My Dad’s written scripts in Urdu have always lured me, he not only writes beautifully like daisy but also sweetly as best melodies. His writing has inspired me so much that it made me fall in love with Urdu literature. But, during my early years, I would stick to the idea that there is no scope for Urdu; as my elders would always be judgemental, considering it as a ‘Sahal’ (easy) subject, which according to them could be read and written by any Tom Dick and Harry. Although, passing such judgement would daze me, since most of the students during my school days were inept in reading and writing Urdu, and if I be candid enough, I was one among them.
When I was up with my post-graduation in English, I was introduced to a Pakistani- play Hamsafar, which was then trending like a wild fire. On watching its very first episode, I felt myself glued to my hp-laptop screen with my earbuds in my ears.
Hamsafar, forced me to ask few questions to myself, “is it the same Urdu which they call easy to learn?” However, asking this question to myself was quite obvious; as I was encountering that vocab of Urdu which was not less than an alien to me. Though, I would speak Urdu prior to the play but not that Urdu which I was being encountered with. The lexicon was sweeter than sugar candies and passing them into the ear was not less than any embarkation.
Earlier, I would consider myself good at Urdu communication and would satisfy myself with the dogma of confining Urdu for meeting the ends of communication. Howbeit, I would stammer and fall short of words while speaking Urdu but never would I play any heed to it, and whenever the words felt short in my parole, I would switch to another language to convey my message. Code-Mixing, Code-Switching and borrowing words from Kashmiri, Hindi and English had become like a ‘Register’ to me. Thus English, Kashmiri and Hindi words were my bolt-hole. But, learning the language or getting into it was like a reverie; as my elders had taught Urdu was but a ‘Sahal’ (easy) subject having no scope at all.
Back to Hamsafar, The play made me feel jittery, and all my misunderstanding about the language became understood. I felt its sounds so rhythmic and sweet that I watched the play thrice. The language of play was not only sweet but also made me thirsty to learn it. I started then horning my skills, but as they say first step is always harder than had to take, so I made my mind, worked on its pronunciation, improved my vocab day in and day out, bought its dictionary (Farozul Lugaat) started reading Urdu daily’s and some Novels to enhance my lexis, jargons and terminology; watched more and more plays to chisel my spoken form and thankfully then, as the saying goes hard work pays, and I reached somewhere!
Then a question stuck to my mind, and I hunted for answers, but the question left a barrage of questions behind and all I wanted was a satisfying answer? And no sooner then had I started meeting Urdu experts to satisfy my thirst. I asked them, “Why are students waking away from Urdu?” Replying to which most of the experts answered that students have lost interest in the subject, they focus on other subjects like Science and Maths apart from English which is a global language. One among the experts said it was because the Urdu does not mint much coins like other subjects besides that they are ignorant of the fact that the first Kashmiri who topped IAS (Indian Administrative service) in 2010, Dr Shah faseal had taken Urdu as his optional subject despite being a Science student with MBBS degree.
An expert who teaches at Government run institute did not hesitate agreeing upon the fact that Urdu teachers are most responsible for this disaster, because they have utterly failed in giving their best. He further added while rewinding his University and college days that he had taken it as a subject not because of his desire or choice but on rendering option less in a stream which had compulsory Urdu as a subject. And becoming masters in this particular Subject came out of his friend’s advice.
Becoming somewhat interested in bitter ground realities I dragged him further while asking, “What is the root cause of this canker?” He without taking a second, replied, “The Urdu faculty in general as they have failed in achieving their desired results, because they have started believing what rest of the people believe. An expert of the subject must lay an impacting impression not only on students but also on the people with whom he would be interacting.”
Understanding less what he meant by a phrase ‘Impacting impression’ I implored him to illustrate? For which he said that by ‘impacting impression’ he meant language teachers ought to impress their students in particular and rest in general with their pronunciation skills, their langue and parole and much more. He further added that a language teacher has to be different than rest, and while speaking it must be felt without knowing that an expert of that particular language is addressing.
I tried to intervene him by asking did not he feel the same while he was taught at college and university by experts of Urdu. Answering to which he sniggered and said, “I wish it would have been the case but it was not so.” He paused a bit as if he was musing something and then added, an Urdu expert must address like the natives, which we feel and decode in the plays of Pakistan, but, here an Urdu experts talk like every commoner. When experts are like that, what an impact would they leave on students?
(Author is RK Columnist. Email: email@example.com)