‘Without language we cannot claim our identity’
By Sayim & Bariya Hamid
It is a widely accepted fact that Kashmir valley is not known just for its beauty but also for its rich culture, tradition and heritage; and also, it is no wonder that Kashmiri language is loved and admired by the people other than Kashmiris. We often find the visitors here trying to utter Kashmiri words and showing their love for our language filled with melody and sweetness.
People of every other nation in the world are leaving no stone unturned to propagate and safeguard their mother tongue, while as the people in Kashmir are getting away from the very basic tenant of their identity; the mother tongue.
We always prefer English and Urdu as languages for conversing, holding debates, discussion, so forth and so on and if someone happens to speak Kashmiri for any reason, the attempt will have proportions of Urdu and English words. We are in no way demeaning other languages or trying to establish that one should not use other languages but we want the people of every origin to be acquainted to their very mother tongue. We find a plenty of reasons that are leading to the gradual erosion of Kashmiri language and we strong feel to present them. From society to government to an individual person, everyone has to be held responsible for the sorry state of Kashmiri language.
Government has failed to ensure a comprehensive and sustainable planning for preserving and upholding Kashmiri Language. Indeed, Kashmiri language is included in the academic curriculum of high schools but what about the student of higher secondary level? Student in this age reach a phase of adolescence, developing maturity and comprehension of everything around, a child starts to discover his identity, explore things and imbibe what is presented to him. In those very years, between 10th to 12th, when a person become unacquainted with their mother tongue, they fail to imbibe their roots of identity.
Alphonse daudet in his work ‘the last lesson’ says, “we must guard it (language) among us and never forget it, because when people are enslaved, as long as they hold fast to their language, it is as if they had the key to their prison”
Introduction of Kashmiri Language in higher education will not only prove beneficial to the coming generation but it can also create employment opportunities. People who have obtained degrees in Kashmiri Language can find jobs on a large scale. We believe that humanities department has a major role to play in the revival of Kashmiri language for they can actually revive its literature and folklore.
Parents being the first teachers of a child encourage him/her to talk in Urdu or English and if by mistake the child tries to speak Kashmiri, they feel shameful about it.
During a general discussion with a college student over the sorry state of Kashmiri language, we heard from her that she was never allowed to speak Kashmiri by her parents during her childhood. “Whenever I would get a chance to converse with my friends, who would speak Kashmiri, I also used to try and talk in Kashmiri but was always told that I study in a private school and people would make fun of me if I will even try to speak Kashmiri as it sounds comical,” she told us.
We as students are never being told anything about their identity. I want to leave you with a question how are we going to claim being a Kashmiri?
Sayim is a writer and Bariya Hamid is a student of English Literature.