E for Engleesh

e for eenglish“Engleesh” – Yes that was the way I pronounced “English” a little less than 10 years ago. English was merely an examination subject to me; the one where I couldn’t earn the best marks by mugging alone. I was a nerd at school, the sort of database where my friends checked for answers regarding general issues.
I was schooled in arguably the best English Institution in the place, but what I excelled was in Malayalam, my mother-tongue. In a school known for its pomp and show, I was alien to the world of English-speaking parents.
I had put down my name for an English essay writing competition, and others fully expected me to win it, simply because I knew well about current events. To be honest, I did too! I wrote in all I knew, and probably used more papers than the others. But then I never knew it was not only your knowledge, but your language mattered as well. I was heart-broken. At the same time there was an elocution competition.I was disappointed by my abysmal performance. I couldn’t complete my thoughts, and was left searching for words. I was shocked by the way those students whom I never thought to perform well, doing far better than me. I had the knowledge, they knew the language. I was ashamed. I vowed to myself I would never participate again.
The same year, a class test. And I the topper of my class, scored less in English than a girl who keeps getting low grades in subjects. I am not one to fret over marks, but that memory stays fresh as it was definitely a surprise.
All the while, I kept doing well in Malayalam, my mother-tongue. I loved reading Malayalam books, and penned well in the language. I was a good speaker of the language as well!

About a year later, the Harry Potter frenzy had caught up with many in my school, but despite being an avid reader, I was ignorant of the fact as I never showed interest in English books. It was then that an abridged translated story of the first part of Harry Potter series featured in one of those nerdy magazines I read at the time. I remember being glued to it.

I didn’t know it then that my life had changed forever.

I asked my parents to get me the series, and within days, it was here.

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Though I knew the gist of the story, it was hard getting through the initial pages. I had to sit with a dictionary beside me and I found myself searching for words like Muggles and as I did not know about neologism then. I figured probably my dictionary was inadequate. However, I chugged on as I could, and by the end of the first book, I was a transformed self! You wouldn’t believe how much my language changed since Harry Potter. I don’t attribute it to reading Harry Potter alone, but it was certainly the torch which threw light onto the world of English for me. Since then, I became an English writer, speaker – not one to boast of, but not bad all the same.

In my final year of school, I was made to say a random speech in English, about my thoughts on the lesson. To my astonishment, I did quite well, which made me happy and proud. I never knew I had it in me to speak so well! I made a mental note that instant that I was going to participate in the upcoming English elocution. Being a student of this amazing institution, known for its excellence in English, and coming out of it with no credits in the language, would be bad. I decided to give it a try. I knew that my language was not at the same level than the others, so I began equipping myself. Some quotes, new phrases.. I found myself poring over a dictionary all the time. And the event day came. The topic was one in which I prepared on. I was happy. I made an excellent start quoting some famous poet, and spoke without much difficulty, and ended rather well. I was happy to have participated. I proved my worth. My friends said I did quite well. As I was the last participant, I couldn’t listen to how my fellow participants spoke. So I couldn’t judge myself. And the results. Teachers were vouching for their personal favourites, and I was alone by myself. I was not expecting one for myself either. I simply wanted to know who won. “Third place to No. 8, second place to No. 13, and first place to No. 19!!”, said the judges. “Who’s no. 19?”, everyone wanted to know.

Ahem, it was me folks!!

 

P.S.: Since then I abandoned my fears of English, and became confident in handling the language. And currently, I am editorial staff of the English-section (not Malayalam!) of the college Magazine! I handle both the languages now, but with so much ease. Confidence does a whole world of good!

P.S. 2: I know it is late for this, but Happy New Year fellow bloggers! Hope you have a great year ahead!

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Reading: The Universal Hobby

Reading-I’d define it as a universal hobby.
Out of every three persons I ask, two would say their hobby is reading. Besides TV, that is. But in fact, do these people read? Atleast a page everyday? I don’t think so.
Reading has been there with me all my life, but I got real serious certain times, chomping at every paper I found and craving for more. A book-worm? Well, that could be the apt word. But not the usual one that digs on just textbooks. Textbooks were for exams. Not for all-times.
Reading has had its ups and downs all my life. There were days I couldn’t sleep without flipping through atleast 10 pages of a novel while in bed. There were days when I could hardly finish one page and found myself awake the next morning with the room fully lit and the book staying on the same page it was 3 days earlier. Perhaps those books were the culprits. I am not real choosy on my books and mostly its just random, so I guess, those things could happen. But I’ve managed to finish most books I’ve started. Even if I felt they were awful. From the start.
I am bilinguistic. My mother-tongue is Malayalam. My first English read, as far as I can remember, is Harry Potter. That Potter boy (or should I say Rowling girl?) turned the tables for me. I who hadn’t read a single English novel until then, was totally taken in by Rowling’s magic . I boarded the Hogwarts express and took a ride to the wonderful world of English literature, where I spent more time lately. I do not mean Malayalam literature is substandard or anything, and I pen my thoughts better in Malayalam than I do in English, but I am drawn more into English lately. Now don’t go thinking I’m that avid reader, who has read hundreds of books. I would have, if I had kept up the pace.
My love for books was so great that once I wanted to become a librarian! With stacks of books all around me.. I had even considered converting my room into a library! I had drawn up plans on how to partition the room, stack shelves, categorize books.. Ahh.. I remember! I did make a library once! I got all my next-door neighbours sign up for it. But it didn’t go as I pictured, and I had it shut down as I found my books are not returned in time! I couldn’t imagine losing even a comic book then! Well, I am no different now. When I give away my story books to kids, I make sure that they keep them safe, like I did. If I feel they won’t do it, I don’t allow them near my books!
I’m not neck-deep in books, but I regard reading my greatest pleasure. You read words, and then paint pictures.