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The Internal Battle of a Writer-Poet: English Or Hindi?

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My mother tongue is Hindi, the language I have been brought up with. When I went to an English medium school, I was taught English, the language of the colonisers. It was obvious that when I started writing poetry, by then I had incorporated so much English in my daily life that, it became the language of my poetry.

Let me climb the mountain on my terms,

Limb’s broken but heart’s passion still burns.

My poems and poetry skills were praised by everybody around me. I still remember how my friends used to call me ‘ The Wordsworth of the school’, but somewhere in my heart, I wasn’t happy. I used to write with all my heart but poetry still didn’t give me the satisfaction that I was looking for. I tried to write poetry in various verse forms and styles, but it didn’t give me the satisfaction I was seeking. One fine day, my mother introduced me to Shayari and Mirza Galibi, it changed my life.

Bahut hai dard mere ander par mujhe likhna nhi aata,

Hai bahut zindagi me lafz par mujhe likhna nhi aata.

(I harbour a lot of pain, but I cannot write.

There are many words in life, but I cannot write.)

When I started writing in Hindi, it did gave me peace within my heart. As a girl who grew up thinking in Hindi, it is much easier for me to directly reproduce my thoughts on the mobile phone, rather than translate them in my mind.  But when I told people about it, they didn’t give me a good response. Some said that the audience for Hindi poetry was much less than that of English poetry. Others said that I cannot grow, if I write in Hindi. These words left a mark on my heart, as I was young. I couldn’t deal with this language politics. As I became much wiser and an English literature graduate, I understood that there was a great need to protect my mother tongue, my Hindi language.

Yun zidd nhi krte kabhi dusre ki zaban badalne ki,

Zuban toh ek yaad, ek aazeez virasaat hai humare apno ki.

(You mustn’t compel someone to embrace a different language.

Language is a fond memory, a cherished legacy passed on by your own.)

I can see that nowadays, there are a wave of critics of Hindi, who feels we need to be modernised and learn, as well as speak English because it is a global language. Who made English a global language? It was us, who started to feel proud of speaking in English. Here, I am not saying that we should do away with English; I am just saying this – stop treating English as an elite language and Hindi as the language of the unevolved.

I would speak, write and express in any language I want to,

No, boundaries can stop me to spread the love I want to.

We still have this tendency to look up to people who can speak and put forward their views in the English language and look down upon those who can’t. This made me conclude that though India had gained independence almost 70 years ago, we the people of India, have still not able to decolonise our mind from the English language.

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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Find out more about her campaign here.

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