Learning and acquiring mastery in different languages is both desirable and highly needed but it must not happen at the cost of abandoning our mother tongue
With each passing day, we Kashmiris are becoming more and more indifferent towards our mother tongue. Our apathy towards our mother tongue is reflected in many real life examples. Parents now scold their children for talking in Kashmiri as it evokes inferiority complexes in them and many educational institutions have almost completely prohibited the use of Kashmiri as a medium of communication.
It is not very difficult to notice the consequences of our indifferences as they have started to come. Many children, who are the worst affected as a result of this indifference, are eloquent in speaking English and Urdu but still unfamiliar with their mother tongue.
Our unacquaintedness as towards our mother tongue is increasing day-by-day as a result of our lack of concern towards Kashmiri. This all is disappointing, distressing and disturbing.
Acquiring the knowledge and ability to speak multiple languages is appreciating but when it happens at the higher cost of losing our mother tongue, the circumstances demand some contemplation and introspection.
Language is described as the vehicle of culture. It is not merely a means of communication but it is gives people an identity and recognition as well. Our emotions and feelings are associated with our mother tongue. The feeling which arises when I utter the word mouj is much stronger and real than the word mother.
Our identity as Kashmiri is incomplete and perhaps meaningless without our mother tongue. Here I must make it clear that my advocacy of love for Kashmiri language must not be confused with the propagation of hate for other languages.
The impact as a result of growing alienation with our mother tongue on the cherubs of Kashmir is more concerning and worrying. What we teach to the young today has an immense implication on what they will value in future. How unfortunate is it that both the institutions of family and school prompt the young to abandon the use of Kashmiri.
Who are responsible for all this? It surprises me when I see that it is actually the educated class in Kashmir who discourage the use of Kashmiri. Educated parents and teachers who must have inspired love and affection in young towards their mother tongue are actually playing the opposite roles.
As already pointed out, encouraging young to speak different languages is both appreciating as well as highly needed but it must not be done at the cost of depriving them of their ability to speak the mother tongue.
How many times has it been reiterated that the education to the young must be given in their mother tongue but many institutions especially the private ones seem reluctant and unwilling to do so. It seems that they still fail to understand that imparting education does not obligate the use of a particular language.
The noted and influential philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche speaks and stresses upon the need to protect the mother tongue in these brilliant words: “Take your language seriously! If you cannot feel a sacred duty here, then you have not even the seed of higher culture within you. How you handle your mother tongue reveals how much you respect art, or how little; how close an affinity you have for it. If certain words or turns of phrase habitual today do not inspire physical disgust, then abandon your pursuit of culture.”
Nietzsche seems addressing we Kashmiris directly given our apathetic approach towards our mother tongue. He is regarded as one of the renowned philosophers and we must notice in him the passion for mother tongue going hand in hand with his knowledge and intellect.
To sum up, I must say that that learning and acquiring mastery in different languages is both desirable and highly needed but it must not happen at the cost of abandoning our mother tongue.
Both the parents and the school teachers must expose the young to the richness and value of Kashmiri as our mother tongue. If the young are forced to be indifferent to their mother tongue then who is left to carry the mother tongue forward.
As already pointed out in the words of Nietzsche, we must feel a sacred duty towards our mother tongue. Our mother tongue is not an impediment but our facilitator for education.
Before it is too late and before our indifference towards our mother tongue results in complete detachment, let us feel obliged to promote the use of Kashmiri, let us stand up and speak for love, enthusiasm and dedication towards our mother tongue and embrace it with our open arms.