In order to fully accept the constantly evolving sense of my self, I must take into account every single phase of my life. I can’t speak in just any one language. No. I need to be a mixture of the Keralite born and brought up in Ahmedabad, who spent quality time pouring over her English books since childhood, while enjoying the company of her multiple North Indian, Hindi-speaking friends.
You ask me where I am from? It’s not the easiest to answer. I may stutter and pause, causing you to assume of an existing identity crisis. But really, where am I from? Kerala? Because that is my native. Gujarat? Because I was born there and spent a good portion of my childhood flying kites and eating the yummiest of Gujju cuisine. Bombay? Dubai? Bangalore? Because I have spent enough years in each of those places to last me splendid memories of a metro city that I once called home. You see this is why I can’t give you a short answer, so all I have to say is that I’ve been around – here, there and elsewhere. To say that, because these places have left an indelible mark on me, is the reason I speak multiple languages at a time would not be completely accurate. I have grown to love learning languages, with possessing the ability to feel one with different communities.
I loved being able to read billboards in Dubai, albeit not understanding it. I loved hearing Korean songs and gleaning the subject matter. I loved watching Jane The Virgin and gathering bits and pieces of Espanol spoken between Jane’s abuela (grandmother in Spanish) and herself. It’s rather amusing when my brother mutters words learnt from Japanese anime (with the expectation that I wouldn’t understand anything) and I can retort with some rather fascinating Gujarati profanities (equally inscrutable to him).
That being said, I abashedly admit, I haven’t reached proficiency (or even intermediacy) in any of the languages I have begun learning. I do aspire to get there some day. What glory would it be to watch Korean dramas without subtitles, to roam in the streets of Spain equipped with their tongue, to dance to Arabic songs knowing full well what they mean. But until then I shall have to build up my vocabulary by constructing sentences of a mixed nature. I don’t think I will ever want to speak in just one language. Ask my family! They are used to hearing Korean, Gujarati, Hindi, English, Malayalam all warped and sown together.
I think for as long as I live, I shall be dwelling in the beauty of words that not just about everyone understands. But to me, they would mean a great deal. To me, they would be an entire realm full of possibilities and life choices. To me, they would be the invitation to be anyone I desire to be.