(Always dear my mother tongue)
Few years back, when I was in school—to be precise, in Class 10— I had friends who said they could not read the headlines in Assamese newspapers. I felt bad hearing that. They were Assamese children, who studied from childhood in English Medium schools. But just because they studied in English Medium schools that doesn’t mean, they should not be knowing how to read or write in their own mother tongue— I felt.
Few years down the line, when I went to Mumbai for my job, and used to attend cultural gatherings in the Assam Bhawan present there, I’d see kids of affluent Assamese professionals working in Mumbai speaking amongst themselves in Hindi. I would be filled with rage. If we do not speak in Assamese, the outsiders are not going to speak in Assamese— I would think.
After spending two years in Mumbai, I started talking with my Assamese friends in Hindi. We cannot escape the influence of the environment. I realized.
But accepting someone else’s language doesn’t mean we will forget our own language.
I recall a few lines from the short story ‘The Last Lesson’ by Alphonse Daudet. (He says about his mother tongue French. The Germans had occupied their land and, only German was to be taught in their schools from the next day. It was the last lesson in French.) He said-
“…we must always retain it among ourselves, and never forget it, because when a people falls into servitude, “so long as it clings to its language, it is as if it held the key to its prison.””
Yes, as long as we hold to our language, no one can enslave us.
I’d like to cite a few lines from one of the songs of Dr. Bhupen Hazarika-
যদিহে নেবাচে বাৰু ক’তনো বাচিব
আনৰ আইক জানো ঘিণ কৰাটো বুজাব…”
Which means, if the Assamese language doesn’t survive even in Assam, where else will it survive? And loving ones mother doesn’t mean hating others’.
Assam is the land of Sankardev. It is the land of Jyotiprasad Agarwala, Lakshminath Bezbaruah. Assam is the land of Lachit. Assam has a rich heritage, a rich culture and traditions. It has a rich language. We should never forget it.
Hundreds of people have laid down their lives for the Bhasa Andolon. We should not let them down. We should teach our future generations to respect and learn their mother tongue. This is our moral obligation.
I’d like to end with a few lines of the anthem of the Assam Shahitya Shabha-
চঞ্চল হৃদি জলে ঢালে পৰিমল
ৰিণিকি ৰিণিকি কোনে তোলে ৰাগিণী
হিয়াত বিলীন হয় হিয়াভৰা গান
চকুতে চকুৰ নীৰে লয় জিৰণি
জীৱনে মৰণে ৰণে লহৰী সুধাৰ
ৰসনা শিতানে বহি সিঁচা শতধাৰ
হে’ মোৰ মধুৰাননা মাগিছোঁ মাধুৰী কণা
দিয়া দিয়া দিয়া আই মধু ভাষিণী
Always dear my mother tongue
‘Bajok doba, bajok xhongkho, bajok mridong khol, Oxom akou unnoti pothot, Jai Aii Axom bol”.