Spice of life: Ambivalent ties with English

  • Amarpal Singh
  • Updated: May 02, 2015 09:38 IST

You must have heard about the fight with mathematics, chemistry, etc. In the same way, I have an ongoing fight with the English language. It’s similar to the fights between Tom and Jerry, who also have a strong bond of love between them. Even when they plan to part ways, a situation arises that brings them closer again.

I enjoy a similar relationship with English since my parents admitted me to an English-medium school in Class 1. The school followed stringent discipline. It was mandatory for all students and teachers on the campus to converse in English. Our principal suggested that our parents, too, should preferably converse with us in English at home.

Alas, very few of us paid heed to this golden advice. I spoke English due to the fear of getting punished but never read it or spoke it with my soul. I do love to speak ‘my broken English’ in the streets by raising my collars. The reason behind my apathy towards the language was the influence of the movies of that period which instilled a feeling of patriotism and gave the message that English is not our language; it is the language of those who ‘destroyed’ our nation. Another reason was my friend circle who always forced me to speak Punjabi or Hindi. Even at home, we preferred our mother tongue.

So, it was only the school where I was somehow managing to tackle the language. I never read the sentences by understanding their meaning. I was in the habit of cramming. My father used to bring me novels and vocabulary books, but I always managed to escape from them. That time I did not understand its importance. As a result, I have not been able to develop a good reading habit.

With the passage of time, the school relaxed its norms and I was left with some situations where I used to speak in English as a formality. To get away from it, I took admission in a Khalsa college of the city, where the crowd used typical Punjabi language, but the irony was that, since I was from an Englishmedium school, my professors began to assign me the task of writing as well as conducting the stage in English on various occasions.

A twist of fate occurred. While preparing for MBA, I somehow drifted into journalism. Today, I write for English dailies and have also been selected as a student editor for the English section of the university magazine.

The language from which I was escaping has given me an identity. Today, it is my need, my raw material. And I wanted to rewind the clock to my childhood days to improve my negligent behaviour towards this language. I know it is not possible, yet I am trying my best to have a good command of the English language. I have opened a channel of friendship with the Queen’s language. Love live this association!

The writer is a journalism student at Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana.

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