I remember I was in second standard when the English teachers turned into language fanatics. And the end of their cruelty was nowhere close. They had a sudden urge to burden little kids into carrying this bulky book of random words ordered alphabetically to school every day. And this became the supreme law for the entire class. Defaulters were to be penalized with a reminder note in the diary followed by a taste of public embarrassment. They also had to bear the brunt of not knowing a new word written in the textbook from their own dictionary! How mean is that!? I don’t understand how could the teachers miss the words SHARE on page 509 and FORGIVENESS on page 218.
Well, the point was to inculcate this habit of referring to the dictionary to gain depths of the texts. We often used to crib that “Where will I ever use this word in my life?!”, to which I can imagine a high-headed, arrogant, bespectacled English teacher looking down upon us and saying, “In all the right places but unfortunately your peers are equally miserable and not in the habit of bringing a dictionary to the school!”. Now, that I am an adult, battling through text fights and defending my opinions on different social media platforms, it becomes slightly problematic with a limited vocabulary. I realized that words have moods, tones, degree of respect, touch of formality and spectrum of emotions and if you falter in the choice of words, BOOM, GAME OVER. It is actually a battle of expression; the intent plays a background role but verbosity is quite important too. While Shakepeare taught us that brevity is the soul of wit. You should still know how to swim in the deep side of the pool even if you just want to chill in the shallow part, a classic counter argument by the Dictionary cult.
Dictionary also focuses on the usage of those armed words. But I find the accompanying sentences way too extreme. We were often asked to keep the book close to us and skim through it for fun; only to come across life lessons, rude and truthful things ogling at us. Maybe our teachers refrained from saying them out loud. “He gave me an emphatic no when I asked him out” or “human, n: See HUMANITY”. It’s funny when we read it but imagine if someone says this to you. Yes! It’ll be unsettling.
I understand the passion with which prose and poems are discussed by English teachers but simultaneously I feel sad for Hindi as a language. Nobody stresses on the Shabdkosh (Hindi Dictionary, the distant relative of Oxford tyrant). The life of teachers start with Gillu, the squirrel and ends at translation of some Avadhi texts or romanticizing the grim works of Premchand. There is a limited exposure to other classic authors and the constrained vocabulary hinders the self exploration process of our personal interests. So, in a way, English Dictionary has been a savior for a lot of us. But I’ll pick this petty brawl of languages some other day.
Today, I am sitting on my couch in a languid state because I am profusely free yet to ameliorate my thoughts and abstain from redundancy of life on this lovely evening where my mother is constantly reminding me of my quotidian tasks. *Pick a dictionary now!*
//Until next time