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Nov 21, 2014

The English Snob That I Was

Note : This was a story I shared with my fellowship team, when asked how the fellowship that I am a part of has changed me. There have been several ways of how this brilliant experience has brought out the best and the worst in me. I will hopefully share more on this fellowship and the learnings I've drawn from it on the blog, for now read on...

                 My name is Spoorthi. My father is from Karnataka and my mother is from Sikkim, and I… Well I am from everywhere! I can speak Kannada, Nepali, French because I put my heart and soul into learning it and of course I know English. Thinking back on my past, I realize that all my friends have been English speakers, all my thoughts have been penned down in English, and most of what I know has been read in English.
                One year into the fellowship and all the friends I had made were English speakers. I hadn’t ever realized it, but I looked down upon those who didn’t know proper English. “I didn’t done it” someone says, and I know he can never be my friend. “Kyaa aap hindi mein baat karsakte ho, angrezi samajh nahin aa raha hain” another says and I know no conversations there. “Aap kaise ho?” someone asks, I say “acha” in my broken hindi and walk away. This was who I was and I was happy with it.
                My whole life, my parents, my schools, the society I belonged to and the media that fed me, have all told me ‘English’! We had a rule in my school, if anyone speaks in any language other than English, then we had to pay a fine. Did I realize how much of my character was being shaped by this? Our whole lives we are conditioned to be a certain way, fed ideas that are said to be right, influenced towards certain ideologies. Everyday of our lives we lose a part of ourselves and become what we are forced to become, completely blind to it. In the fellowship I questioned it, and recovered a part of myself!
                I remember the day that my journey with this fellowship started. I was given a room next to two boys during our induction process, who happened to be deep and loud in discussion in HINDI! I couldn’t believe it! I couldn’t understand most of it, but I understood I was disappointed. I remember phoning my mother back home and telling her very convincingly that I didn’t think this fellowship was for me. Today I work and live with one of those guys in my fellowship home and the other one of those guys is my best friend. 
                It might have taken me a year to realize it, but a lot of courage to break my notions and to break my conditioning. The dislike, the disappointment, the hatred even, it was all not mine. It was given to me, and I accepted it without questioning it. When I look around today I see the magnitude of souls we are slowly erasing by giving them all the anger, hatred, violence, judgements and what not.
                During my field support visits to school, I meet on an average 150 primary kids that I teach, I play with and best of all, I talk to. I can feel their honesty, their purity and their free minds in my heart. I envy them but at the same time I fear for them. It is only a while until these free souls are also bound by our society’s chains. Perhaps I can save them, perhaps I can save our society from more Spoorthis who dislike non-English speakers.
                My dream is to see our children growing in an environment where they can be everything they wish to be and everything that they are, without being conditioned to be a certain way, fed ideas that are said to be right, influenced towards certain ideologies. A school where self-exploration, self-governance, self-expression, equality and freedom are the core values. I want to question things, I want to question our conditioning, I want to question everything!


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