Karma sure is a chamelion. Marrying into God’s own country would “give me lemons” now… (never thought so… then🤔). Just me in Kerala wasn’t enough, it’s now an unwell me in Trivandrum. I am a commonly sighted person at the popular hospitals of Trivandrum, by-standing or patienting! Ailments come and go, but the pathos lasts forever😬
The desire to be heard by my doctor remains unquenched. Communicating in English literally kills it… my pain becomes a disjointed idea conveyed in English adjectives that come somewhere there( to my utter distress) ; all the while writhing in my heart is my …oh so lovely mother tongue.
As I finally manage to get the sole attention of the doctor, he also rejigs his knowledge of adjectives/adverbs and phrases of English. You see, we both rely on English in the absence of an interpreter. A recent conversation between both non native speakers of English went like:
“Do you get a boiling sound in your head?”
“No doctor, its a choked feeling, like the pipe is full and tight”
“No boiling sound?”
“No, sometimes I get a vaccum like feeling…”
“Oho, that is the boiling!” says he triumphantly.
“Do you get a pin prick sensation in your eyes?”
“I get boiling vision! As though the people, words, objects are popping up and down.”
Aghast! He feels he is somewhere there… and smiles in confused affirmation. I can read his expression- “women! North Indian or South Indian- all the same”!
Ward sister is prattling noisily, just above my head and I beseechingly raise my palm to request her to calm down,( as my jaws refuse to move) but she takes my hand lovingly presuming it to be an outcry for her comforting touch! and babbles on. Oh , anything for a few words of my mother tongue with its sing-song onomatopoeic words that would narrate my ailments and woes with the right impact and pacify me in return.
An Akbar Birbal anecdote comes to mind. When a visiting foreigner who also was an expert in several languages, challenged Emperor Akbar to detect the expert’s mother tongue, it was Birbal who caught him unawares in the wee hours of the morning; by splashing a bucket of cold water on the sleeping expert. He jumped up from sleep as well as the bed, exclaiming and cursing in his mother tongue!!
So mother tongue it is at the weakest moments… and is needed as a panacea…