Just imagine a situation for a while if one day out of routine our loudspeakers hanging on plinths of Masjids would have echoed with muezzin’s azan (call for prayers) in Kashmiri dialect. If Friday khutbah was to be recited in Kashmiri language, would the situation have been different from routine order, in the form of large number of people turning out for prayers. People instead of fiddling with fingers and counting dots on ceilings during jummah sermons would have their eyes and ears concentrated on what is being said rather than hovering somewhere in fantasy lands, as attention has something to do with understanding and when we don’t understand what is being preached we start to lose interest in things.
Witnessing of above imagined tale in near future seems like waiting for rhinos to fly. We are unable to endorse Kashmiri language in our homes, how can we afford to introduce it in our religious affairs by fiddling with divine writings. Kashmiri is slowly and steadily leaving our homes, we feel shy and shame in speaking it at public places. We feel more confident in English and Urdu during our conversations be at home, office or during any telephonic conversations. We talk Kashmiri in whisper’s in outings as if it is informal to talk it in ceremonial and official functions and when it comes to speaking English or Urdu, we just simply raise the decibels of our voice so as to get attention from public so that people watching us can say, ‘look at that man speaking English eloquently’.
From past few decades we are witnessing a new trend in families especially from middle class backgrounds. They are raising their kids in such an environment that they don’t like to teach them mother tongue and instead force them to speak in Urdu. When same kids grow up they feel isolated in their own locality due to communication gap as they can’t understand a language which was innate to them from ancestors. Their parents have assimilated them with language which they could have learnt from academic books in schools, thus these kids are being genuinely barred from learning mother tongue by their own parents under the guise of feeling pride over their kids for speaking Urdu without thinking about long term repercussions. Thus a language which is often considered as a medium of communication becomes barrier in communication in itself.
Kashmiri is our identity and we should feel pride in it but we are not able to institutionalise it from root to shoot. In this regard role of schools and institutions like Radio Kashmir and DD kashir comes under radar. Just few months back we saw local Kashmiri folklore artists coming on streets to protest against concerned authorities for ignoring them in providing platform to show case their talent. Institutions like J&K Art, culture and languages needs to leave their cosy rooms by holding debates, seminars and workshops for welfare of Kashmiri language at places where it matters most. Instead of confining their actions to hollow slogans only, they need to walk the talk by designing books, holding programs which encourage masses towards kashmiri language.
Irony is some of our private schools still continue to give corporal punishment to kid’s for speaking Kashmiri, this needs to be stopped as Kashmiri is just another language like English and Urdu. They need to be reminded in countries like China and Spain, qualified civil servants know very little about English language. They need to take preliminary English classes after their appointment to learn basics of English and in our territory, it is impossible to think of qualifying civil services without having a good hold over Kashmir.
Few months back I had a chance to meet a Kashmiri born English professor, Oxford university alumni. It was surprising to notice that during our half an hour conversation, she didn’t utter a single English sentence and spoke just like rural Kashmiri women in local vernacular language and when I dared to ask her about English as a language she was blunt in her answer, ‘I don’t feel any pride in speaking English language, I feel it is just like another language for me, it is unfortunate to see even when English people have left our land, they continue to occupy our brains and we still rank people on the basis of fluency in English.’ Instead of cutting the roots of our language we need to irrigate it by endorsing it in our homes, schools and public place.
We have to use technology as a tool just for the sake of our dying mother language and role of many young you tubers can’t be over ruled as swell. They are doing highest service to our language by uploading content in Kashmiri tongue, which ends up getting millions of views. These guys need some encouragement at government level by providing platform and monetary support as they are proving to be real ambassadors of our culture.
(Author is Teacher)