A Colonized Ridiculousness

Apr 24th, 2013 | By | Category: Latest, Pakistan, Social


How many times do we actually sit down and ask ourselves how ridiculous we sound? And how ridiculous we should sound? And how we are indoctrinating this ridiculousness to our coming generation?

Now let me be the odd one, the strange one, the party pooper, the nonsensical one, and let me tell you that there is something very ridiculous at the sight of seeing a mother struggling phonetically with her child to explain to him that he must use words of a language foreign to him and remain a constant rebel to his comfort and nature by staying as far away from those inferior, those desi, those Urduish words that his mind uses to make sense of the world.  But alas, it is that mother who is being scorned by the child’s so-called educator that it is in fact her job to make sure that the child is surrounded by as much words loaded with declamations of inferiority, of psychological bullying, of an age-old legacy telling the child that he is still a colonized subject- that it is that legacy of his oriental heritage, all of Indian and Arabic literature, which is intrinsically inferior to any good shelf of a British library.

And yes there is a contradiction at work here. You may ask why is it that I use the same language I speak of so badly to speak of it so badly. Well, I see no problem here. There is no problem in using any language. The language is not the problem. You can and should use the English language. And the same can be said for Saraiki, French, Urdu, German, Pashto or Arabic. The only condition is that they are just languages- means of communicating what we have in our minds with other people-and nothing more. They are to serve the same purpose and are little different in this sense. They should not be a sign of superiority, of intellect, of status, of class, and of all such non-sense we have come up over the years. After all, how is a thought expressed in one language, any better than a thought- a mere concept- expressed in any other language.

Then why is it that poor and helpless human beings are told in our sad state of a country that they have to learn a language before they can actually learn something concrete- like to say knowledge itself.  As weird and shocking to our English-is-a-global-language enthusiasts as it may sound, these humans- these lower-class nobodies, these forgotten proletariats of our forgetful socialists,  these mechanics and drivers and maasis and cooks- already know a language. Why should they learn another language to start learning something if they already know a language? Why can’t they be taught in the language they speak and think in?

But doesn’t everyone know why? Will these people, who we throw so much pity on, not become a threat to ourselves? And will we not have to compete with ‘them’. We know we can afford a quality education in a language foreign to our whole continent. But these wretched of the earth cannot. We can secure for our children the privilege of remaining in our beloved elite class, while ‘their’ whole generations would grow up serving ours- never to escape this vicious cycle we have so ingeniously created.

Our ridiculousness then is only a cover for preserving our class interests. We make fun of people who cannot speak the language properly even when the content of his or her proposition may actually be beyond the capacity of our own intellect. We consider those who cannot speak fluently to be lower and inferior human beings. When we want to tell someone that we are something- such insecure people we are- we immediately code-switch to the English language.

We refuse to see the ridiculousness behind all this madness. Far from it we don’t even realize how much damage we are doing to ourselves. It is unhealthy and sickly what we are doing. To be someone you are not is only an insult to who you are. But who are you and who am I.

Why be ashamed of our own cultural and religious heritage, of centuries of civilization, of literature, of creativity and of art. Why be a lower quality of somebody else by voluntarily accepting his superiority and by giving in our own sense of being? Why this ridiculousness?

Saad Lakhani

About the author

Saad Lakhani is a student of Social Sciences based in Karachi. He tweets @Saadlakhani12

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  1. Very elegantly written and conveyed.

  2. Yes, it’s a pity what we’re doing with our children…..burdening them with the load of 2 languages as a result of which they don’t master either one.

  3. I agree with you opinion completly, but just saying it isn’t it ironic that you are criticizing using same difficult and
    hard words that make it very difficult to understand the message who don’t have that much vocabulory.

    Thanks and regards

  4. I wanted to add my opinion here. We know that kids are capable of learning two or more languages. And they really should learn more than 1 language. The real reason for all the confusion and mess is that our educational system has no plan in teaching the languages that are important. Our history, culture and tradition and the pinnacle of every advancement WE had is in arabic. So, being Muslims we should learn that in depth to know ISLAM and to know the answers of the dire questions. We have with us their answers already but are failing to grasp their understanding because of ignorance of the language.
    All the literature and developmental knowledge is available in English and it is our own procrastinations that we haven’t been able to translate these into Urdu/Arabic. So, when it comes to higher studies it is necessary for now, for kids, to learn English. Otherwise they cannot understand the concepts of modern subjects.
    The national language of pakistan is urdu and our native culture demands that we learn it as well.
    So it means that we have triple responsibilities, when it comes to language. 🙂
    The debate would lead us to the ideological vaccum we feel today so strongly. Who we are? Where we have come from? Where we have to go? What is it we are here for?
    It is with the unity in thoughts and a vivid understanding of the answers of these questions that will enable us to resolve these problems.

  5. Hmmm…. its a good piece but I guess you could have written alot better.

  6. you’ve hit the nail on the head sir

  7. […] strongly visible even today, some more tangible than others. We have spoken against the usage of a certain language and traits that show of a false ‘superiority’. We have advocated pride in our own national, […]

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