The misery of Kashmiris while they speak can be adjudged from the fact that we, Kashmiris, are unable to express ourselves clearly in our own language, Kashmiri. We fail to get the words/expressions/phrases that we need to express ourselves because we have always felt shy of our own language and because we’ve always maintained a psychological distance from our very own language. The new generation finds it cool to speak in Urdu/English rather than their own language, Kashmiri, which they find boring, uncool, offensive and degrading. It’s not a problem, not at all. But the problem is that, most of us aren’t even well versed with English/Urdu, the languages which we keep flaunting and the languages in which we always try to show-off our true colors. And we know it well what we do to the grammar, sense and syntax of these foreign languages when we speak. Whenever we, Kashmiris, speak Urdu I’m reminded of the fact that, “Urdu used to be a sweet language” until “Kashmiris started speaking it”.
The problem becomes apparent and frustrating when we find ourselves talking to Kashmiri elders, those who are not aware of any other language except their own, Kashmiri. We’re always unable to express ourselves in pure Kashmiri, we’re always left desperate to find an appropriate word/term to describe what we want to express. We have to go around the field just to express a simple emotion/feeling/expression because we lack the proper vocabulary to do so. And when our elders speak we are puzzled by their vocabulary and we have to keep asking the meaning of those words to make a sense out of our Kashmiri conversation. We actually don’t speak Kashmiri even when we claim to do so. We speak a hotchpotch mixture of Kashmiri, Urdu and English. It’s not a problem when we are talking to those who are well versed with these languages but we are left in lurch and desperation when we talk to our elders. I always feel ashamed at such times when I’m unable to express myself to my elders in their language, in my own language, Kashmiri. I feel embarrassed at my misery and the misery of my fellow citizens who can’t claim to have their ‘own language’.
The lack of having a proper way to express ourselves is slowly taking a toll on our intellect. Most of the people may fail to observe it, but it’s a fact that, when people don’t find a proper way of communication and expression their intellectual and reasoning power decreases with time. This is what happens with deaf/dumb people. And we, Kashmiris, seem to be partially deaf/dumb. We’re a paralyzed lot who don’t have a proper source of communication. Even when Kashmiri is such a rich language, we are still left out of resources to express ourselves, because we’ve simply failed to use them. What can be a worse nightmare than being unable to express yourself properly?
We all know what we do with Urdu/English when we speak. We don’t even spare Kashmiri, our own native language, let alone all these foreign languages. We destroy the very fundamentals of any language we speak, be it our own Kashmiri or foreign English/Urdu. We’re experts in doing that! We destroy the sweetness and the purpose of languages because of our half-knowledge/half-acquaintance with each of them. Only in Kashmir (maybe there is another such miserable place on the face of Earth, and I hope not) we find that, speaking your own native language makes you feel ashamed while speaking foreign languages like Urdu/English gives you an edge over others and it becomes a matter of class and dignity. How disgusting to see parents refraining there children from speaking Kashmiri in their disgusting ‘Urdu’. Sorry to use such words, but the way they speak Urdu only gives you the feeling of disgust. They way they say “Beta” and then “Kashmiri mein baat nahi karte”, the ridiculous statement and the even more ridiculous accent, which they are proud of, makes you crave for a place to hide yourself from these ‘high-class’ people. Such statements always make me wonder at God’s wonders. I wonder, why were they born in Kashmir, why not in any Urdu speaking place? They wouldn’t have had to feel embarrassed about their native language! What amazes me more is the way Kashmiris laugh at others when they use Kashmiri words while speaking Urdu/English but find in perfectly normal and highly acceptable to use English/Urdu words while speaking Kashmiri! Rationale, anyone? We need to get over this inferiority complex, as soon as possible.
Don’t even for a second think that I hate Urdu/English. I’m a huge fan of Urdu/English poetry. And of course, I’m writing all this in English. It’s a good sign when you see people of a nation speaking diverse languages but not at the cost of their ability to express themselves properly in any of them. It’s an irony that I’m talking about all this and bashing Kashmiris for their lack of knowledge about their own language while the fact is that, even I’m unable to read/write Kashmiri properly like most of the Kashmiris out there and that, I’m only able to speak half-baked Kashmiri, a hybrid of all the languages I know. As a matter of fact, I’m frustrated at all such Kashmiris, I’m frustrated at myself.
Language and culture of a place develop over time according to the needs of that place/society. So it’s for our own benefit that we should be fluent and highly comfortable with our native language. We need to learn Kashmiri, not for the sake of preserving it or doing a favor to this language. But for our own selves and to be able to express ourselves clearly lest we be a doomed nation who has lost it’s intellectual/reasoning power just because of being unable to express itself in a proper way and being like dumb/deaf people unable to express themselves or say anything properly. The way we express ourselves, and the extent to which we are able to express ourselves properly has a huge effect on our mental and psychological development. We need to learn Kashmiri properly from the beginning of our development as a child, to be able to express ourselves properly and efficiently, so that we are able to do discourses/discussion/debates in a language we find ourselves completely compatible with. We need to learn Kashmiri (our native language) because, I don’t think that, Kashmir wants to be a mentally/psychologically underdeveloped nation. All the people on the face of Earth find themselves inclined to their native language because their psyche and mentality has developed in the environment of the same language. So, it’s high time we take back our abandoned language from the lap of darkness and earn the right to call ourselves, Kashmiri.