The estranged daughter

“Really? You write in Malayalam? But why? How?”

Many a times I have been asked this question and sadly, I still fail to give a concrete answer. The truth is, at times, I’m drawn into this inexplicable urge of writing in Malayalam. The obscure pleasure I get when I breath life into words and those words in union with one another gives birth to sentences. And they weave the exact emotion I have in my head.

All in my mother tongue – Malayalam.

Few years ago, on returning from a pleasure trip to Hyderabad, I sat down to write. Write was not exactly the intention, it was more of scribble. The very first attempt to jot down an account of my journey. I wrote few lines in English. It looked alright. It was grammatically correct. But no matter how many times I reviewed, it didn’t feel quite right. I tried writing in simple sentences and then in fancy ones interlaced with sophisticated words. Yet, it felt gravely wrong at some level.

And then in a fleeting moment of realization, it occurred to me that I should perhaps try to write in Malayalam. A language that I had cast off in 8th grade. Several minutes passed as my brain wrecked to construct a proper readable sentence. I had forgotten the alphabets, I had forgotten the words. It was as if a brand new structure had to be constructed from the ruins. I was indeed the estranged daughter of my mother tongue. She was slowly dying in me and for all these years I made no attempt to keep her alive, to nurture her. Apart from irresponsibly using the language for my daily day to day conversation, I have almost forgotten its relevance. It was an onerous task trying to remember the nuances of a word – when used colloquially and when used for writing. It surprised me why I never continued to read books in my native language as I did during my younger days. Perhaps, I took for granted the language I struggled to learn as a child.  After an hour of write, strike and repeat, from the graveyard of words, I could see a paragraph worth reading. Most of all, one which felt right.

It took me almost 12 years for such a thought to occur. But I’m grateful for that moment for it brings me closer to my roots, closer to what I’m and where I belong.


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