In response to daily post’s prompt : Parlay
I recall the days of my childhood when we the siblings picked up different languages from the kids we played with in the neighborhood. Urdu was one of them.
Our Dad encouraged us to learn languages but made sure we spoke Bengali, our mother tongue at home. It was something we never thought about and did not mind speaking Bengali when we were in the house.
My father registered me in a school, where the medium of instruction was English. I enjoyed learning English songs, there were quite a few. In the school we were required to pick another language. I picked Urdu, I knew how to speak it, all I needed was to be able to read and write it.
I remember the homework we were given was to read a page every day, to make sure we knew the words. I wanted to read more than a page. I requested the teacher to let me read as many pages as I could. The teacher said, ‘No Chaman, you cannot go ahead of the other kids, you must stick to one page at a time.’
I wanted to finish the book and start the next one. One day I asked my Dad if he’d help me read the words, if I got stuck. Dad agreed, it enabled me to finish reading the book. When I was in school I did what the teacher wanted, we read one page at a time.
My learning Urdu stopped after my Dad passed away, my Mom did not want to live in Rawalpindi, where we lived, anymore, she wanted to move us to Bangladesh.
In Bangladesh according to my Dad’s wish my eldest brother bought a house in Comilla. It is a small town, it had good schools and a famous college. We settled in Comilla, I finished my high school privately, the medium of instruction in the local schools was Bengali, which was difficult for me to do, the language was fine, but the other subjects in Bengali is what made me finish high school privately.
In college everything was taught in English, fortunately they offered Urdu as one of the languages which I was glad to register for. Living in a Bengali environment it didn’t help my spoken Urdu, even though I was studying it .
Years later when I realized I was slowly but surely losing my ability to speak Urdu which I spoke fluently. I thought if I start reading Urdu novels it will somehow boost my fluency to speak the language. I think along the way I lost my confidence, to speak it.
Perhaps the only way to build up my confidence and ability to speak is to speak with some of my friends in the online course, as there are a lot of them whose mother tongue is Urdu.