I Miss the Sound of Urdu That’s Slowly Disappearing From our Homes

Conversing with my nine-year-old daughter now seem so difficult. I’ve realised that this generation is more comfortable with slangs, rather a language that’s civilised, polite and cultured & cultivated speech like my Urdu. This is a language of my heart and mind, my first language.

I remember in my house, as a kid, our bookshelves were piled up with many Urdu books written by prominent writers like Rumi, Manto, ghazals from Jaun Elia. I used to love reading them.

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It upsets me when Urdu words are used in Bollywood because today’s kids don’t recognise the words or they think it’s from some other language. My fear is Urdu is getting lost.

And when I try to explain this to my millennial kid, the response I get is,

“Mom, Urdu was a language of poets, rebels, ardent idealists? What use it’s to me?”

Ouch! My heart just sank.

At the time of internet language, bachara Urdu kare bhi toh kya. In my mind, Urdu seem to have retired hurt, and the hashtag ki duniya has taken over.

The internet language has taken over.

I was the last man standing to save Urdu. At least in my home.

I took it upon myself to look for a ustad (teacher), who could teach the language and its nuance to my daughter.

Finally, my search came to an end and I found the man. But to my disappointment, the ustad, instead of sharing his knowledge with my daughter he was more interested in making money. “If you go for Urdu calligraphy that will cost you more,” says Ustad.

So annoying!

I decided to enquire about Urdu in my daughter’s school. The administration bluntly told me – ‘choose either Marathi or Gujrati.’

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What about Urdu?

Why? Why not other languages? I questioned.

Pat came the reply, “Coz Marathi is a dialect predominately spoken by 83 million people in Mumbai. ” Huh....( I happened to stay in Mumbai.)

Why can’t they teach Sanskrit and Marathi along with Urdu?

Forget finding a teacher, as an author, it’s difficult for me to find an Urdu publisher who will be happy to publish some Urdu works.

The revival of this language seems a must. As a parent, we must take up the task of popularising the language. Speak to our kids and explain them the importance of humbleness, politeness in every language you speak.

Lost in my thoughts...

Suddenly my kids shouts from the door.

“Momma, I don’t need to pig out and please don’t conk me uselessly, by the way, the food was fab.”

Eh, I pulled my hair and remorsefully moved towards the bedroom with a quote:

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“Salike se hawaon me jo khushbu ghol sakte hain...

Abhi kuch log baaki hain, Jo Urdu bol sakte hain

(Translation: Those who know the art of mixing fragrance with the wind, are still the ones who can speak Urdu.)

Open up our eyes before the adab loses it's soul.

(Ashi Kalim a writer and activist based in Mumbai. She has worked in Defence COD as a Corporate Trainer. She loves reading, sketching, gardening)

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