Forgotten Essence

Back in my O-level, I was one of those who never understood the importance of one’s native language; I remember how I used to sit with a bored expression on my face whilst taking my Urdu classes. But now, having been exposed to some realities of life, having observed some multi-cultured people from across the globe and their proud towards their native languages awakened the sleeping patriotism inside of me. This is what made me reflect upon my own self and I chose to understand and better my language.

As I am soon going to enter the undergraduate chapter of my educational journey, there is a lot of speculation over my choice of subjects by friends and other acquaintances. While I am encouraged for having opted for commerce subjects, I am equally discouraged from choosing Urdu as one of my A-level subject. The discouragement isn’t to belittle me for the reason I chose Urdu but because of the common ground universities share here of not considering Urdu as a count for admissions.

When English language can be accepted, then why not Urdu?

A language which played the most historic role and which ultimately became the pioneer of national cohesion of Muslims back in Pakistan movement; a language which unites all the provinces is now sadly at a decline. With respect to the contemporary context, English is considered as a judging scale of one’s literacy level and conversing in it has become more of a fashion than necessity due to the ever-growing peer pressure.

Learning any language to battle with globalization is surely not a problem, but amidst of this, forgetting one’s root and not nurturing them is surely a call for self-reflection. Are we doing justice with people like Mr.Jinnah and Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, who contributed and devoted their time immensely towards acceptance of Urdu as an official language?

Globalization has been the major factor everywhere, yet I see many nations still paying respect to their native languages, culture and identity both on local and international forum. The Chinese never shies away from speaking Chinese neither do Japanese shies of speaking Japanese; Turks still have spoken Turkish then why can’t we? One of the prime reasons we are still a developing country is I believe because we do not pay that importance to our language which it deserves. I remember my father telling me “Koi bhi qaum kamyab nahi hosakti jab tak woh apni zuban ko tarjeeh/ehmiyat na de” (No nation can ever succeed until and unless it gives importance to its mother tongue). In the past, I used to evade it, but now I couldn’t help but agree for this detachment from our identity and culture has indeed cost us heavily. If we have to succeed, we desperately need to alter our mindsets.

I believe any subject or concept can be much better understood in ones native language than in any other, even the researches on education systems has repeatedly emphasized that there is no better way than educating in one’s mother tongue. Sadly, this is not paid much attention by schools or even the parents now. The most unfortunate thing is that the ignorance with Urdu is now considered in so-called ‘cool category’. The pressure of conversing in English every time from both teachers and parents has caused students a hard time in coping up with Urdu. I remember my school’s policy on fining students who were caught speaking Urdu in recess or during classes, but when we used to converse in English even in our Urdu unit, a fine wasn’t applied. Obviously, back in time I never used to think about it, but now I do wonder about this double standard. Wasn’t it hypocritical?

Through this piece, my intention is not at all to bash English language, but just an attempt to restore the significance of our mellifluous mother tongue and to set the very same standards like that of English. I do accept the irony of writing this in English, but this is the best I could do to reach the people who are oblivious to this mistake as I was once.

Through this, I extend my earnest request to universities to accept Urdu as a core subject for admissions and in fact make it mandatory for students to opt for it so that our language gets its due share of prominence it deserves. When nations like Germans and Chinese can provide education in their native languages, we for sure can at least accept Urdu as a major for admissions. As much as every student is encouraged to master the English language, the same should be the case with Urdu for its high time we start expressing and portray the true essence of our graceful language by speaking and taking pride in it.