A month ago, I started a section in this blog wherein I translate the kashmiri songs, I have started with the popular ones first. While translating the songs, one of the problems that I faced was that many of the songs that I came across were nice to hear but I was clueless about the words that were being spoken in them, I couldn’t find the meaning of the words in the modern lexicon, that we use nowadays, as this modern lexicon stems from the urduisation and englishisation of our language. We barely know our language and our culture, that we inherited, as it existed. Partly because it is considered condescending if some child deigns to speak in kashmiri and partly because we don’t want our accent to give away our origins. We are somehow ashamed of our culture, our identity. Yes, it is true, we are ashamed of who we are!
Go to a social gathering and check for yourself, the child speaking in broken urdu is quickly deemed to be refined and intelligent; and henceforth becomes recipient of affability, love, and generosity of the guests whereas the poor soul who has kaeshur on his tongue becomes the eyesore of the party even if his broken kashmiri is music to ears, he ends up receiving the cold-shoulder from the guests as he is an uncouth fellow just like his parents who didn’t teach him to shun his mother-tongue and ape the foreign language! Such brutes!
This leads to the Urdu-waala guys ending up with kashmiri that is worse than those with ST/GB certificates. I am not making this up, I have had the pleasure to be with such guys at school and college and trust me they only ended up making my Urdu worse. They know that they are speaking an alien language and in a bid to fit in they end up with linguistic disasters.
Tu shikaslad hai, zara kar kaam, zara ja dafa, tu balayei/kalle hai, hum lipper pe thay, usko waaze naatihyen thi aaj syun main saath are some of the examples of trying to fit in which became sort of urban-lingo at school leading to degradation of not just one language but two!
The second reason that I mentioned above is that of being afraid/ashamed of our origins, our identity that is ostensibly present in our accent. Urdu helps to mask the accent so nobody will know what part of Kashmir we are from. Some people are ashamed to belong to a particular place and it is not just one place! I, like all the sane Kashmiris like snow and it gives me immense joy to see a heavy snowfall, somewhat like we had this winter. I once asked few guys from other districts to tell me about the level of snowfall that they receive and surprisingly even at places that receive snowfall in several feet, their replies made me certain that we either receive as much as them or even more! Because, again, somehow the level of snowfall would have made me believe that they live on mountains, maybe!
We want our children to parrot English and Urdu because these are the official languages of the state with former being the global language, fair enough, this will definitely help them in getting acquainted with the functioning/happening of the state and the world easily but they have a lot of time for that, they first need to get acquainted with their own society, their culture, and their roots; they first need to know about the past they inherited then only can they appreciate the future they will build. In a world that demands polyglots, why are we robbing new generations of a language, that too their mother-tongue? In the process of doing so we are doing a great disservice to our land, our culture, and our forefathers. We come from a place that has a written historical document dating much before than that of Europe! Our poets were documented when English were learning to read! We are being dishonest with our past and robbing our future at the same time.
There is a silver-lining though but that is generally when we are no longer part of the Kaeshur society, I’m talking about NRks- these people being away from the motherland find that spirit of belonging and try to be more connected to their roots and in that process they impart the mother-tongue to their children and use their resources to safeguard the language and culture for future gens. If you google about Kashmiri language over 90% of the content comes NRKs- lessons about learning Kashmiri language, Kashmiri texts, commentaries on Kashmiri culture, cuisines, documented cultural shows and what not! They sponsor the cultural shows there and most important of all- get that documented! We are slowly getting rid of pheran and kangir but thankfully some ingenious people got pheran in vogue. So for the time-being pheran is another fashion accessory but kangir, still for some, is for photos only. Our so-called regional channel that is there for the promotion of the Kaeshir language broadcasts majority of programs in Urdu, and surprisingly, in English as well, that too at prime time!
Documentation is really important for the future generation because we come from that part of the world where it is shameful to speak in your mother-tongue, to learn your culture at school- we know about Harrapa but nothing about Burzhama, to practice and follow it! So, when in future, a kid wants to know what cacophony his grandparents murmur in, he might google the sound and find that it’s the language he was supposed to speak in!
So, document your culture as much as you can, write about anything and everything that is Kashmiri because if you don’t write your own history as you witness it someone else will as they want it to be!