When Indian Languages Met For Coffee

The bloody remains of the previous coffee meeting (When political systems met for coffee) were a long-forgotten memory. After ages, another meeting came to be arranged in the secret underground facility. Keen watchers noticed Indian languages making their way into a meeting of Languages. No one knew who sent out the invites. Nervous excitement wafted through the air.

The Dravidian heavyweight Tamil was among the first to walk in proudly; feet barely on the ground, head pointing to the heavens. Observing no one around and a tad cross at turning up early, quite against popular Indian custom, Tamil found a perch at the biggest chair around the table. Presumably this was the Head Chair. A while passed and fellow Dravidian species Kannada and Telugu made an appearance. Upon entry, though, these languages grappled with immediate disenchantment. For the chairs were left unmarked and Tamil sat rather smugly at the best available chair.

None of the languages was in the mood for free seating. The new entrants reminded Tamil that it ought to vacate the Head Chair. Tamil appeared unruffled and reminded the group that it was indeed the right claimant. This right was automatically its due, thanks to its status as the first Indian language to be bestowed Classical status. Tamil also invoked the Indian devotion for seniority. As one of the oldest Indian languages, it expected, subtly of course, a level of respect from the others. When none was forthcoming, it remonstrated about the devolving state of affairs, hurling choice expletives in its own tongue. Kannada and Telugu brimmed, due to lack of appreciation of the words Tamil used. Each was mighty proud about their histories. Warfare of the linguistic kinds was imminent.

Tamil’s outburst, quite unforeseen, was to be met head on. The abrupt assault on their rich histories caused Kannada and Telugu to grieve over personal slander. Each began waxing eloquent about its linguistic beauty. Each language was unique, and in this respect all were the same. Tamil alleged blasphemy and accused Kannada and Telugu of forsaking filial piety. Telugu, meanwhile, opted for musical warfare, unleashing its vast musical lexicon on the group. A more inappropriate presentation of an asset could not be contemplated. Or so everyone thought.

As the battle gained steam, another language made a belated appearance. Malayalam. This language was conferred Classical status recently and was kicked at being part of an elite group. It did not, however, receive the ovation that it expected. It grappled with further strife on realising its neighbours in Dravidian-ville were well and truly established in their perches. It breathed a sigh of relief nonetheless. Unaware of protocol, out rumbled a stream of words that sounded so menacing that there was sudden outburst of silence. Malayalam twirled its moustache.

The joy was to be shortlived. For the silence was due to another reason.

A magnificient referee had appeared out of nowhere. Sanskrit.

Admiration gripped the warring group. Here was the lingua franca of them all. The fountainhead. The creator, of which these languages were offshoots. Or so Sanskrit  sermoned. There was immediate infighting for the Head Chair, pitting Sanskrit and Tamil at loggerheads. Tamil refused to budge, citing that it had gone Classical before Sanskrit, even as the latter attempted to skirt the issue.

Amid growing cacophony, the group greeted a new arrival. Oriya. This beautiful language spoke with its wondrous twang and informed others of its imminent induction into the Classical Club. The application was made and entry could happen anytime, so it came to the meeting preemptively. The others muttered under their breath. As they readied to parry Oriya’s intrusion, they were caught off guard by a sudden influx of a bevy of other Indian languages into the meeting. All claimed a place in the Classical Club. Soon, the room was populated by over 100 Indian languages, all aspirants to the Classical Club.

Opprobrium spread infectiously among the languages. Verbal exchanges of the unkind kind, in tongues that weren’t comprehensible to the others, began to fly hither and thither. Many lamented the uncultured outrage of the languages of culture.

The supposedly elite club wasn’t so elite anymore. This caused some to reconsider their objective for fighting. They realised they were clinging on to thin air. Someone reminded Tamil of a quote (in Tamil), “Cling to the One who clings to nothing; and so clinging, cease to cling.”

They looked around and realised all of them were clinging on to a title that added nothing to their personalities. The emptiness hit them hard. Sense descended upon the group. They dispersed, with a good word for the others.

In tongues that weren’t comprehensible to them.

9 thoughts on “When Indian Languages Met For Coffee

  1. And while they were all fighting among themselves, first the Macedonians, then the Mongols and finally the Europeans took over their lands.

    And the European said, “I offer thee something in common to hate, something in common to curse, something in common – English.”

    So, it came to pass that in thet august chamber of freedom fought and bought with bitter blood – English prevails more so then any other language. Better to embrace the colonial master than a brethren.

    Meanwhile, the languages continued their fight — what great entertainment.

    What a great post you brought us 🙂

    Thank you,

    1. Thank you!

      Obituaries were (are, will be) written in English! Well summed up, good Sire. Your rejoinder set off another train of thought in my head…will come back with another post at some point. :)A dash of your brand of creativity to take this battle forward will be very welcome.

      How have you been, Sire?

  2. Two typos – “thet” should be “the” (4th from bottom) and “then” should be “than” (3rd from bottom)

    And so it came to pass that we learned to have our morning cuppa before posting comments, lest we mistakes and typos make 😦

    1. Ode to the typo, Eric! Welcome and please accept my apologies for not hopping over to your blog often enough. I have been in hibernation, contemplating the rapid devolution of the world and working out ways to minimise personal impact. 🙂

  3. This post seems to be a metaphor for a very basic human need; of trying to establish oneself and everything associated with oneself, as good and desirable, and stamp out all opposition as bad and undesirable. Whether it is Tamil vs. Hindi, Capitalism vs. Communism, or anything else. Why can these not merely be “different”?

    1. Always a pleasure to read your comment, Ankur.

      We all want to be different; and in pursuing this end we are all alike! This quest for unique identities is a comedy of mirrors (reflections)!

      I await all Indian languages to be ordained as Classical , so we can have one grand celebration.

  4. Every language goes through Darwinian evolution. It is born, it evolves, and it dies; it dies in some way or the other, for example, Urdu is a language that is not spoken in India now like it was spoken in India long ago. It must be noted that Urdu flourished in this very country. Another of the weird thing that I came across is that there was a time in history when the official language of that area that now contains Tamil Nadu was Farsi. From the moment go, this fact doesn’t seem like a fact. How could Farsi have been Tamil Nadu’s official language? Quite improbable, it seems. But, it is not!

    1. Indeed. Darwinian evolution spares none.

      This is curiously interesting, and new information for me. I’ll delve into it. Thanks for sharing.

      Good to see your comment. Hope life’s been treating you well!

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