The first Editor of the Radiance Viewsweekly, launched in July 1963, was a Tamilian. But the late Mr. A.A. Ravoof (read Ayapillai Abdur Ravoof) spoke and wrote chaste Urdu. He had a refined sense of humour. For years his column “Abracadabra” appeared on the edit page, which contained to the point verses from Urdu poetry.
To his family he would talk in Tamil. With my mouth agape, I would listen to his talk with his son, Khalid and daughter Masooma with rapt attention. One day he asked me: How my Tamil sounds to you? Gathering courage I submitted: Sir! If you promise you would not shunt me out, I am wiling to tell you the truth. He said “promise”. If a naughty boy fills an empty tin container with hard pebbles and vigorously shakes it in the air, the sound that will be produced in the process is Tamil.
What is the difference between Tamil and Telugu? To the naughty boy referred to above, the difference that happens to be between the tweedledee and tweedledum!
There are 2,50,000 Telugu in the US and Canada. Over 14,000 people attended the 16th biennial conference of the Telugus of North America from July 5 to 7 at Washington D.C. The star-attraction was Mr. Bill Clinton, who electrified the audience by posing the question: “What about in-sourcing?” Thus he recognised the Indian contribution to the US in various fields. But I don’t think Telugu or any other language for that matter is his field. Had I not feared the Editor’s eyes, I would have referred to that. However Mr. Clinton thankfully received a $1 million cheque for his Bill Clinton Foundation by Detroit-based Krishna Prasad.
It is said during his heyday; Mr. Clinton decided to teach English language to our Lalu Prasad, whose “pronunciation” is horrible. Accordingly both were closeted for hours and hours. At the end of the day, when the former Us President came out of the rendezvous, the words on his lips were: Yee Susra Lalua naaheen sudharbe or this blighter Lalu would never learn how to behave.
The former Chief Minister of Bihar once received a challenge from the Japanese premier, “I can turn Bihar into Japan within 15 days” to which Mr. Lalu Prasad confidently retorted: “I can transform Japan into Bihar in just seven days.”
The way some of our brethren from Bihar take liberty with grammar, and in the process, assassinate Hindi is worth hearing quietly. Their “subject” contains “We” but “predicate” ends at verb used for “I”. How would you explain, Hum jaaraha hoon. Quite erudite Urdu-wallahs of Andhra take liberty with meaning Jaa Ke aata hoon. It means: “May I take your care?”
It is a matter of happiness for a pseudo patriot like me that now our national language. Hindi is breaking boundaries. History was made on July 13 when Us Senate was opened with the “Gayatri Mantra” from the Rig Veda. Mr. Rajan Zed, a Hindu chaplin from Beno Navado recited it.
One finds a curious blend of hypocrisy in America rather the eastern hemisphere. To us, their annual demonstration of “Hypocrisy” is not surprising. What is surprising is the celebration of the historic separation of church and state. On the other hand they claim they have not separated God from the state. During the last 270 years all sessions of the senate have been opened with prayer, affirming the Senators’ faith in “God as sovereign lord of our Nation.”
One feels inclined to thank the Americans for this grace on behalf of God.
In the meantime, Dr. Karan Singh, President of Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) has, on the sidelines of the 8th World Hindi Conference at New York, asked all the member States of the UN to take “immediate and strong” steps for making Hindi the second most spoken tongue of the world an official language of the World Body. My knowledge of international relations is next to negligible. I feel until and unless Dr. Manmohan Singh agrees to dot the Is and cross the Ts of Mr. George W. Bush on the Indo-US nuclear deal, this is not possible in the UN.
Whether (Raghupati Sahani) Firaq Gorakhpuri was anti-Hindi or not, I am not sure. But I remember one of his remarks about our national language. In the context of poetry, he was asked, “What is the difference between Hindi and Urdu?” Firaq said: Urdu is khilna kam kam kali ne sekha hai or It is from thy eyes that the rose-bud has learnt blossoming slowly and slowly. And Hindi is: Bhalal Bhalal Hathni Moothe re. Or the she elephant urinates in torrents.