When words fail….

                      Sometimes, words seem to be so inadequate to describe the feelings that one is going through. Or is it because I still have not found the words that adequately describe the emotional turmoil that I seem to be going through? 

What is one supposed to say when they feeling both extremely happy and totally depressed at the same time? Yes, at the same time! Funny? Weird? Judge whatever you want, but shouldn’t there be a word for that kind of a feeling? Shouldn’t there be single words to express the extreme emotions and feelings that we as humans are capable of?

Recently, my vocabulary was a little more improved with the addition of some lesser known yet beautiful words that English language had borrowed from other languages. Like the word ‘cafune’, meaning to ‘the feelings of running one’s fingers through the lover’s hair’. The word itself puts one into the mood of love. And then in his memoirs about Istanbul, Orhan Pamuk, explains the feeling of ‘huzun’, that longing for one’s childhood…. Those are when small words speak volumes.

I’ve been forever a lover of language, and being an art lover who is artistically handicapped, I have always considered writing as my one and only mode of expression. Only, that its only when one starts writing for real that the realisation dawns that while writing a 1000 word essay for clearing exams during all those English classes in High School was a breeze, writing for real is much more difficult. Especially, for a person who after school has lost their emotional integrity. I have always been on the sensitive side of emotional quotients, the kind of person who will have tear stained cheeks at the drop of a hat. But that seems to have deteriorated even further once I have started experiencing life on my own. Is it a byproduct of loneliness?

But then the question arises, am I alone? No, of course not! Not in the literal sense! I do have my doting family and loving friends around me, talking to me and absorbing my sorrows away and giving me snippets of their lives to cheer me up. In the world of global connectivity and instant messaging, my phone screen constantly brightens up with a new message, a new photograph, another smiley, every minute. Seeing them does give the heart immense joy, but it equally gives me despair, that I am unable to hold their hands while they are talking or look into their eyes, or pull a funny face at them. An intense urge to pinch that one person for being a menace and adorable at the same time- at least those who speak a certain language in the Philippines have a word for that, ‘Gigil’. And right now, am missing my brother and ‘vybafnout’ (thank the Czech for coming up with a word for irritating elder brothers).  Or to chide myself and then rejoice and laugh at myself for being an impossible dreamer, or as they would say in Yiddish- being a luftmensch. 

The few times I’ve ever read history, I have managed to understand the fact that regional boundaries may have first come into place as a result of language barriers. Yes, countries, and even states within countries seem to have been created based on common language preferences of the masses. And then there were high school language teachers, who insisted that we learn and speak only the ‘pure’ form of the language and not use slangs or mix it with our own tongue. Making up words to convey our feelings was considered a crime that was to punished by cutting down grades and ‘public shaming’- reading out our the language innovater’s new word out loud in front of all the students in class and collectively laughing at them.

I too am guilty of being a snob early on in my adoption of English as my preferred language as I used to relentlessly make it a point to correct people who spoke to me in a different manner than was considered ‘grammatically correct’. Now, having read more and having become a little more mature, I have finally understood, that language, like life, is constantly evolving. And making up new words can be a joy, as long as everyone around you too understand the context without breaking one’s head. Grammar is not language. Language comes alive when it is spoken and distorted and made fun of and mixed with other languages. Language should not be enforced, language should be adopted. Learning a language should be akin to falling in love, not forced marriage. For every language is beautiful in its own right, and no language is better or worse off than the other. 

N.B.: 1) For some new friend just opened up my eyes to the beauty of words irrespective of language, and how they can be used to convey emotions. It was the most enlightening fact.

          2) My beloved country, which seems to have as many languages as there are people, recently tried to enforce a single language upon everyone- a move that is still not entirely scrapped. Its a diverse country, so rather than fighting over which language is the most apt, why not bring some real social reform, dear newly elected government? 

 

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