What is in a language?Nepali is my second language; Maithili is my first.
Our Nepali teacher was a very kind and humble person. His family had settled in Siraha district, my hometown. From the years he spent in Siraha, he had become familiar with the Maithili language, and he knew the innards and eccentricities of both Maithili and Nepali. However, he never tried to correct us. He was well aware of the fact that a mere 45 minute class a day would not help us deal with the struggle we faced the other 23 hours of the day. It is needless to say our SLC scores suffered quite ruthlessly.
Books can only lead you so far. You have to interact with people and get a social life to get accepted. Sadly, for many Madeshi students, first interactions are very discouraging. In one of the post-SLC education fairs I went to last year, I felt that huge language divide, filled with awkward glances and I-do-not-know-what-to-reply silences, when a Madhesi student sat before a Pahadi orienteer. The speaker, while trying to give information about his college, intentionally used prerogative words to make things look more esoteric and elite, while the student, on other hand, was unable to grasp the meaning of what was being said.
It should, thus, not surprise people that one rarely gets to encounter inter-ethnic student groups. It is either predominantly one ethnic student body or the other. And when I say student bodies, I clearly do not mean political bodies but the smaller fringe of student groups you see on the road or on the bus with their ties perfectly tucked under their blazers. You will very rarely get to see Madhesi students intermingling with Pahadi students or the other way around
A judgmental society is a weak society. Mocking other’s inability to use a language which is not his/her is a sheer ridiculous act of offence and bad for a progressive society. Segregation, born out of such conducts, is the breeding point of mistrust. This unchecked segregation at this critical juncture of history, now, can make history of its own..
Language is a whole world on its own. A beautiful world. Maithili is as beautiful a language as Nepali is. But just because the latter is the ‘official administrative language’ does not mean that the languages used by other ethnic groups should be looked with demeaning eyes. Judgmental glasses have the power to pollute the beautiful world of languages.
Gupta is a high school graduate