Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hopping in the world of different languages!

* A fiction I wrote some months ago.

Riki could not understand this. Her parents told her that they needed to move to another country again. This time it will be India. They were in UK only for two years now, and they are going to move again! Riki was very sad and nervous to go to another unknown place. She has after all just started to speak proper English and making best friends in her class.

Seeing her not so ‘happy-curled lipped face’ and tears in her eyes, her mother made a cup of hot chocolate for her; she herself took a cup of black tea and sat with her. Then she started talking about the days when they were new to UK.

They came to UK from Germany. Riki had to leave all her friends and her kindergarten teacher there. She also could not bring many of her toys. She could speak only German then, and at home they; that is, her mummy, daddy and she, spoke Bengali. On asking once, her mother told her that they don’t speak German at home like other kids in her Kindergarten, because they are not German. Instead they are Bengali, from India. Riki who knew German and Bengali, on coming to UK found that people talk yet another language, English. She was little scared, as she could not understand them, her mother taught her to speak few sentences like “My name is Riki and I am five years old”.

On the first day at her new school in UK she was very nervous, but many children from her class wanted to be friends with her. The teacher was also very good and she told her that children are very good in learning languages so she need not worry. She liked her teacher and the school; it was very similar to her kindergarten in Germany. She was also very proud, as she was a schoolgirl and not a kindergarten goer any more.
In the beginning every one in her class tried to be very friendly with her, but it was really difficult for Riki to understand, what others were saying. Luckily her teacher asked a girl called Judith who was a German, to help Riki. She liked that arrangement. She was also observing others. She smiled and tried to be friendly with all.  She used gestures and her eyes to express her thoughts but was hesitating to participate in any game.  First few days, she liked it at school, the fun and the extra attention she was getting.
But slowly it was not that fun for Riki, as it was not possible to ask every thing to Judith. Sometimes she had to play with an invisible wind friend in the school playground, all others having their own group to play. She used to get very tired after school, after listening to a language, she could not understand. Her teachers were helpful, but they too did not have all their time for her only. On returning home she would ask her mother to talk in German, she would like her mother to read stories from German books. She would speak a lot with her doll in German.  She did not have any friend in her neighbourhood. She so much wanted to run back to her friends and teachers in Germany, chat with them a lot and have fun in her kindergarten.
Her parents told her that they were also quite alone at their work and they were also struggling to make friends, in spite of their knowing English. But then they all would end up curling with each other and would talk with each other, Riki liked this time of togetherness.
Slowly with each passing day she found that she began to understand at least little of what others are saying, her teachers were helping her by speaking with her slowly and using few words repeatedly, they encouraged her to talk even when she managed to express her thoughts in small sentences, and when she was able to read those speech bubbles in English text books correctly, the teachers clapped with big applause. Her classmates also showed thumbs up each time she spoke with them.
One day her mother took her to the city library just as they had in Germany, there she could find many books with lots of pictures and few words, though in English, but she liked the books and the library. Slowly she started reading some words from them. Soon it became their Saturday ritual to go to library spend a lot of time there and come back with lots of books.
Then one day Riki’s mum told her that they would shift to a new house, and added that Polly from her class also lived in the same street. She got very excited hearing this. Riki liked her new rented house, for the first time she had her own room, her mother decorated her room with pink bed linens, photos and a mirror, so that she could look at herself when she would play dressing up game. And just few houses away it was Polly’s house. She could see Polly’s garden from window of her room. Polly was a charming and friendly girl. Riki and Polly started spending most of the time playing together at school and at home. Polly told Riki that she also has another language for home like Riki. Polly told, that the language she speaks at home is called Spanish and it is a language spoken mainly by people from Spain. Riki found this very interesting, as it was same in their family too.
Then Riki’s mother and Polly’s mother told them that people from different countries speak different languages. Riki’s mother told them that in India even in one country people speak different languages. Polly, Riki and their mums became a strong gang and did many funny things together.
Slowly Riki was finding it easy and funny to live in that small town of UK, she did not feel sad for Germany anymore, she remembered Germany though. She had found friends at UK and she could speak English now. 
Riki’s mum took a break from talking and sipped from her tea mug.
Riki was listening quietly to her mother and she smiled, as that was exactly what had happened.
Then her mother fumbled her hairs and added that as she excelled so well during her last move, this time she will do even better as in India many can speak English and Bengali and several other languages, also Riki will get a chance to learn so many of them. Riki’s mother promised her that she would help her to keep contact with her friends and teachers in UK. And one day they might come to visit her friends in UK.
Riki was still sad as she has to leave her friends, teachers and school but she was not that nervous any more. She could see that just like she learned English, Bengali and German, she would learn different languages of India-Hindi the national language and so many other languages used by people from different parts of India.
And her mother said if they keep hopping to new places like this then one day she will have friend from all over the world.
Riki, by then was looking at the world map hanging in her room; and thought that would not be a bad idea! 

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