Loss of negatives….

‘Whatever happened, it felt alright. It used to feel, hence it happened. I let it happen. Let’s not talk about it now. It starts fading.’
‘That means, you like going around, you roam about, you like ice cream from kwality, you come here for that, you liked coexisting with a guy. You’ve lost it all.’
‘Correct! You understood it quickly’

That’s the crux and a very literal translation from my first Marathi story by VP Kale. I was already being judged in the metro for reading a Hindi book cheesily titled ‘dil ki duniya‘ even though it came from Ismat aapa. But our very blackberry, noisy headphone and one call at the call centre metro girls gave me weird looks as I tried to read my Hindi book in silence. Today, they went a step further, unable to understand anything over the shoulder, which seemed Hindi but was clearly not understandable. Finally a girl without any inhibition asked ‘excuse me can you tell me what you’re reading’. I silently said Marathi and to no further reactions. No oohs and aahs those only seem to be reserved for French and Spanish. Here, I was being poor man’s dehaati girl. Far too vernacular of late.

In the beginning of year 2000, my Marathi knowledge was ‘madhuri dixit’ and ‘aahe’. I was always shocked with MTV showing Hitler ads with ‘gheun taak’ and for the life of me I couldn’t understand why Hitler’s German sounded so off. In 2004 I could happily be a part of a crowd speaking only Marathi and reply back in English without misunderstandings.Over the years I’ve been able to see movies, watch tv programmes and make peace. It wasn’t so fun when I began, felt like I was in another country. However, there was learning at so many levels that I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Also, it’s not so hard, when you have patient translator friends. Diaglossia, too, perhaps?

This month for the first time, I tried reading. Because it was trouble enough learning a new language and I would hate to lose it, now that I don’t have people speaking to me in the language. Plus it’s very very rich in terms of theatre, movies and literature. I want to learn it one day to be able to read this and this and the thousand others in the list. I feel like I am in class 3 and can’t wait to read the books from high school. Besides, I melt even to hear a passerby go aga to convince the girl. 🙂

The script is the same as Hindi with some differences which you notice almost immediately. Some extra characters, instead of viraams there are – believe it or not – full stops. Some words end with a bindu which is read as ‘uh’ not ‘um’. The maatraas of many words seem the opposite of what you’d expect them to be in Hindi. It took me 20 mins to go through the first page exactly like when I was 7 and reading ‘ram mele mein gaya’ which was such a huge step. But there was hope, I did pick up pace. Funnily, I can speak Kashmiri, but I can’t read it half as well(?) as Marathi- even if in devanagiri- because the pronunciation is so hard, that it’s impossible to write it as you speak it (almost). On the other hand, even though I think I can read and largely get the gist (if not everything) of Marathi, I don’t ever speak it. I feel all too grown up to make mistakes. I wish I was 7 again to talk. But I can’t even begin to tell you how smug I feel that I could read 😉

VP Kale post one story has felt just fine. There wasn’t much humour, but his rather astute observations of everything commonplace was what I felt taken with. Especially towards the end about photographs.

‘That studio had marriage pictures of many, testimonies of many auspicious occasions, many had forever locked the childhood of their children in these pictures, for many the last memories of people they had lost…and now all of that is in vain…”

I think I can almost start a new post on it. Perhaps in the very digital world of ease we really have forgotten what they realistically meant. There is such availability that we’re even lazy to share at times. Though, after having lost so many pictures since ma left them behind in a hurry, and filling my head only with imaginations of events I have no photographic evidence or negatives for [maybe that’s another reason I dream so much], I think pictures do keep our memories green. No matter which language they speak.

PS: All the translations are mine for excerpts from ‘Negatives’, not necessarily literally how they were written perhaps, but the overview of what I thought they were. At least till I pick up the language better 🙂 

  1. oh. I had no clue Bal Thackeray or any thackeray was their reference. But I think people generalise as a way to simplify things they can’t justify…

  2. MTV Ads showed Hitler with Gheun Tak because, frankly, Bal Thackeray was their stereotypical Marathi person from Mumbai, and, you know, he admired Hitler, so, you know, every other Marathi person must admire Hitler too, right? I mean, it’s all very logical.

    Just as Raj Thackeray is the unquestioned mascot for all things Marathi these days, even though his party struggles to get a double-digit voteshare.

  3. C- Please please learn Tamil and then you can totally understand those ARR/ Mani Ratnam film songs which sound soo good 🙂

    Thanks Jyoti!

  4. My neighbours are marathi, so i occasionally pick a few words from them. I love learning new languages but u need to keep practicing it. I learnt German, but after a month of driving everyone around me crazy with my german talk, i eventually stopped. I dont even remember half the words now…
    Currently learning tamil from my mom 🙂

    Nice writeup!

  5. Y – there used to be a serial on tv based on it which I loved so I know the plot, I also really liked the palace of illusions

    Tanvi I think I get bored with sameness too quick, these are survival tactics 😉

  6. Awesome job! and amazing observations on learning as a grown up 🙂

    all the best with your marathi project. I hope you reach Mrutyunjaya soon. It is the best Mahabharata interpretation I have come across! (reading palace of illusions now which is so well written too!)

  7. Dush, I hope he does, I am always looking for recommendations! Besides you can take a few taunts 🙂

    Jack- ha! After everyone established mad is better than boring, may I say, that,s not too bad ;). And I agree on the language front, all too easy to forget, hence I’m trying! 🙂

  8. Upasna,

    Read 2 posts now. You made me go mad with previous one. One needs aptitude to learn a new language and once learnt it needs daily practice to keep it alive. Otherwise, you forget what you learn with so much effort and zeal.

    Take care

  9. My dad had better not read this post. Knowing that you have already read more Marathi books than I would incite further taunts. Really commendable ups.

  10. Thanks ru! Please read that partner book and let me know how it is 🙂

    Mads I recalled our discussion on Krishna vs krushna on BC some million years back :))

    Thanks masoom, will def have a look!

  11. Its incredible that you’d want to pick up a marathi book and read! Having said that I’d love to discuss Mrutyunjay (I refrain from spelling it like I were saying it in Hindi :D) when you get to it 🙂

  12. Awesome muli!! this blogpost commanded a marathi comment.

    tu faar schol ahes 🙂

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