Obsession with language!
Hola amigo! Como estas tu? Hoe gaat het? Grrr… for the last few weeks and even now, while I am writing this article I have been and still am completely obsessed with "language.." (What an obsession!) Well, let me clarify my words first before I make you learn about this recent mad passion of mine. Hola amigo is Spanish. It means, Hello friend! Como estas tu is Spanish as well and it means how are you? Hoet Haat Je is Dutch word and it means what's your name?
For the last few weeks our house has turned-up into a full-fledged language class! Not that any of our family members are good language experts or teachers, but they are excellent speakers at least! For example, my dad started loving Hindi, Malaysian and Cantonese, the languages of India, Malaysia, and Hong Kong respectively. He often speaks these for some entertainment when we are quite dull and dried. But now, the excitement has turned into more like an everyday must-conversation! Every time he calls these days, he goes like, "Ha… kaisa hai aap?" and I go on, "Selamat Datang! I am fine…! (Selamat Datang is the Malaysian word for Welcome) and then my mom comes around with our tea and talks to dad, in complete Hindi language and keep us staring and figuring each word she says… (She's also a frequent traveler to Delhi.) In spite of all this mom-dad talking, my sisters have also taken the words from our multiple-language speaker mom and dad and uses them frequently, and right on time when they need them…For example, when mom's all blue and tired, my sister pops out, "Ma..ek cup cha pilaigey? It means, mom..could you make us a cup of tea? And mom replies… "Nehi…ab to mera mood nehi hai!" Gosh…some language experts we got!
My sister is also a teacher (not a language teacher, though!). She's got this student of hers who studies in some school where they teach her French… every time my sister returns from teaching, she must say something like, "Thank you Monsieur" when I open the door and say, "Selamat Datang Mademoiselle" and then, she would fix up my pronunciation saying, when you say mademoiselle, the "s" should be more kept in mouth and pronounced like, "little z-ish" and all that! Urgh!
Finally it's my turn…hearing all these language experts I got in my little home, I decided to learn Spanish, Dutch and French. And now, worse than anything, I am just obsessed with the languages! Every Internet friend I have, living in Spain or France or Netherlands, I go on asking them to teach me their languages… and each new word I learn I go on repeating them at least once in every half-an-hour. When one gets too old, I learn another and say those… I even started taking up on Archie comics where one issue is full of travelling stories of Archie and some other people and each place they go to, like Paris, Hong Kong, Africa, Japan, they come up with those country's words…and good for me, I learnt a lot of them!
Now, I can speak quite good "welcoming" Spanish, Dutch languages, but not a single word of French. So until now, there hadn't been a moment when I didn't irritate my sister to bring an old French book from one of her students. With "welcoming" I mean, I can speak some sentences in Spanish to welcome somebody… for example, Hola Amigo! Como estas tu? De donde eres tu? Como te llamas? (Don't worry; these are not code words for any murder or any terrorism mission!) These words mean, "Hello friend! How are you? Where do you live? What's your name?" now, I write these words every time I write an e-mail to my Spanish friends or even my school friends! More than anything, recently I have started entering Spanish chat-rooms in the Internet where although I can't understand anything they write, except Hola amigo and all that, but I have a great time pleading someone there to teach me Spanish which they very cheerfully grant.
My Dutch language is also getting quite good. For example, "Hallo iedereen! Hoe gaat het? Hoe heet je? Waar woonje?" these mean, hello everyone! How are you? What's your name? Where do you live?"
Now I am almost killing my sister to bring me a French book from someone… if any of you have one that you might not need, please e-mail me: email@example.com I would be more than glad to get your e-mail…
I am thinking of getting myself admitted in some French spoken language school here in Dhaka (moreover, it would be a great thing to learn French in this winter holidays of mine…)
I am also thinking of learning Japanese and some Cantonese.
Now, I can speak very good Bangla, English, Hindi, Urdu and some Arabic, for example, "Ma ismuka?" meaning what's your name? And then, some "welcoming" Spanish words, Dutch words and I am looking forward to learn French and then Cantonese or Japanese. By the way, I can speak quite good Malaysian… oh well, I learnt some new "Swahili", African words from Archie comics!
I guess this obsession of language is also being picked up by my sisters and they too are enjoying my "new language" words every now and then… the other day, I asked something in Hindi to my grand mother and guess what? She replied in Hindi, being a quite old Bangalee…
Phew! Should we open a language school ourselves sometime?
The term 'Curse' is a very common term when it comes to movies involving witches, warlocks and wizards. Curses are usually a myth and hence the stories involving them are mythical as well. Curses have many variations. There can be big curses and there can be small curses. A curse can make man immortal, like the one inflicted upon Tom Hanks in the movie The Green Mile. Zombies invading a city or even a country are a result of a curse as well. So generally speaking, curses do not usually exist in real life. Or do they? Well, there are many in this world who believes in superstitions, so why not curses. Maybe the story I am about to tell you might stir up questions in your mind concerning curses.
This is the story of one Tommy McGowan. Tommy McGowan was the only son of Henry and Dorothy McGowan. The McGowan's were an average middle class family, Henry worked as a media manager for an advertising firm and Dorothy was an average housewife. Tommy was the joy of the family. Being the only child he was destined for getting everything he wished or desired for. However, Tommy didn't have wants in his life. As a matter of fact he was satisfied with everything he had and everything he got. He never asked for more. He had a passion for reading and delved into books from the moment he started to read. He had a never ending quest for knowledge and that was the only thing he ever wanted. As gifts he would always ask for books and nothing more. He breezed through kindergarten and secured the top position of the class through grade one to grade five. However, from grade six Tommy's life begun to change.
When Tommy finished
grade five, his dad got fired from his job. Henry decided to move to
his home state, so that he can live with the rest of his family. At
first both Dorothy and Tommy were unhappy with the idea but Henry's
persistence changed their minds. So off they went to Henry's home state
and started living as a joint family along with Henry's brother, mom
and dad. The whole atmosphere had now changed for Tommy as he was now
in a different state. He got admitted to a new school and the hostile
environment surrounding Tommy started to affect him. He tried his very
best to ignore it but he just couldn't get it out of his system. Six
months had passed and Tommy still didn't make any friends in school.
At home, things weren't good either. His mom was worried because his
dad was still unemployed and wondered what was in store for them in
the future. The once happy life in the family no longer existed. Tommy
now lived in a place full of sorrow and depressions.
What happened really was that Tommy had a curse. A curse whose origin or cause was not known. But there is a possibility that the curse had been generated from his own family. A long time back his great-great grandfather, a well learned man in the old ages, used his knowledge to misguide people and collect money from them. He once misguided a priest, who in turn inflicted a curse. A curse which is very unique from the rest you normally hear. Tommy's curse was that whenever he sat for an exam he would hallucinate, giving him a wrong impression on the questions and hence cause him to mess up the examination. This is surely a most unusual curse but very effective concerning a guy whose passion is to study.
Tommy was an active student in the class. He participated in all forms of extra-curricular activities and was very responsive in class. All the teachers had high praises for his hard working nature and admired his memory for catching things quickly. His level of intelligence was far beyond the reach of the others. All his other classmates would go to him for studies and he was even hired as a teaching assistant. However, he could never make his level of intelligence felt in his report card as he always blundered in the examinations. Time and again bewildered teachers would ask him why it happened, and as always Tommy would never have any valid explanation. He tried everything he could to make sure that he didn't falter in his studies but he just couldn't find a remedy for it.
Every year his results would barely drag him to the next level of studies and this continued all the way through college and into the final year of his university. Within this period he had tried various ways to find a cure but unfortunately he failed in every attempt.
He was on the verge of losing his sanity as he approached the last exam in the university. This exam was the biggest he had ever faced as it would decide his career. A good result would get him a good career and a bad result would keep him hopeless and jobless for the rest of his life. He worked his life out, studying day and night, so that he had a good preparation for the exam. A curse is a curse, however, and it will be with you as long as you live. No matter what you do or what you try it will always be there. Hence he messed up this decisive exam. He barely passed once again but the result he obtained overall wouldn't get him a job anywhere. And knowing this fact and knowing that this was the biggest blunder he had ever made, he just went catatonic.
From that day onwards he never talked to anyone nor did he ever move. Some doctors declared him clinically dead and some doctors declared that he had lost his sanity. Henry and Dorothy McGowan went to the best doctors but none of them could find a cure. When everything failed, they then went to a priest who said that he had been inflicted with a curse that could not be cured. Henry didn't believe in such superstition and thought that curses were a hoax. He took his family's advice and admitted Tommy to a mental institution with a hope that he can be cured. In the mental institution Tommy would sit quietly in one corner for hours with his head bowed down, staring listlessly at the floor. He had no expressions in his face, which was pale and white. The only time he moved was when a paper and pencil was given to him. He took the paper and pencil and sat on a chair and table. He started to scribble on the paper and after every five minutes he would ask "How long do I have before the exam ends?"
Tommy continued this way of life for the next 30 years after which he perished. The doctors attending him during his last hours were bewildered when he passed away because after his death there was a smile on his face that had not been seen for the past 30 years. Medical Science couldn't even explain the smiling face in a dead body. The smile seemed to be fixed in his face and was there even when he was buried. Who knows? Maybe the smile was an indication that finally Tommy was rid of the curse.
By Ziad Bin Hyder
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