My nani was a fan of writings of Munshi Prem Chand! Coming from ‘a hindi-bhashi’ pradesh, as also her education in Allahabad, made her an avid reader! Not just books by Munshi Prem Chand like Kafan or Seva Sadan but also Pinjar by Amrita Pritam and those by Shivani, the many poems and shayaris, but so many verses were always on her fingertips. She retired as Vice Principal of Girls Inter College.All her life, she actively directed or played roles in the Annual School Play, her most famous role being that of Budhiya from Kafan!
The habit to read came from both my parents. I still remember when every month, magazines like ‘Maya’ and ‘India Today’ would come; I would gorge on them and my love for political analysis comes from there. Mom was an avid reader too. My earliest book that I had read of her’s was Lajja by Taslima Nasreen and most stories of Manto. I was too young to understand them and it is only now that I see a lot of resemblance.
A few years back, Mom and I had gone to Book Fair in Pragati Maidan and we picked the entire series of Munshi Premchand. It was lying in my book shelf for a long time, when last week out of sheer laziness, I thought I will read it to fall asleep, only to realise that the book has kept me hooked since then. I look forward to coming back home to it and sometimes sneak in time between work, to read. His writings are women-centric and the things that he questioned in early 1920s, remain so valid in 2020s as well even though the context may have changed. In a very long time, I picked up a book which I end up reading every few hours. I dont feel like putting it down at all.
But the plight of Hindi literature or any literature in regional language is sad. We were always told to read English books over regional language books, so that our command over the Saahib’s language would improve. But, in all this effort our own language got lost somewhere. I still see so many couplets in English being bombarded on social media but not many in Hindi or Urdu. English is always fashionable but Hindi will always be considered ‘ganwaar’, the famed wrought neuroses!
In our family, our Anadita has only been speaking to us in English since she was born. And nobody ever spoke to her in English. Everyone that she was surrounded with, right from my parents, us, the support staff, we all spoke to her in Hindi, yet she replied in English. Now that she is ten years old, she still speaks in English mostly but speaks Hindi often and with hilarious consequences! But thats the trend these days. Every child speaks fluent English but not so much Hindi and they are also equipped with the knowledge as to who they have to speak in English or Hindi! I still remember when Anadita had learnt ‘by heart’ the entire poem by Harivansh Rai Bachchan- ‘Himmat Karne Walon Ki Haar Nahi Hoti’. She was in Class 1 then and we had made her learn and remember the whole poem for a class assignment. The way she spoke and gestured was unbelievable. I believe that poem still remains our fav and that of my nani and maa and will be her’s too when she grows up.
So here it is, here is my question to people reading this! Do tell me the last regional language book you read and when? Who is your favourite author in the language and favourite poet/poetess? Which is your favourite book by them? If I ask this question to anyone without putting the clause of regional language, I shall get a long list, even category wise.. fiction, non-fiction, autobiography etc.
And I am not being pompous, holier than thou. I neglected the language and did not read sufficient literature. This blog post itself is in English as a medium to express my anguish over the subject. Yet, I really hope that by this post, I am able to inspire even one of you to buy one hindi or your regional language book, my work here would be done!
Leaving you all with my fav couplet from poem:
Until next time!