For someone who has grown up speaking Marathi, the whole mee Marathi thing seems a little jaded. Even since Raj Thakeray went from being a on the sidelines to a politician of prominence the debate has raged endlessly; to Maharashtrianize or not that is the question.
And I have no easy answer. I have found myself vociferously opposing the man’s strategies and vehemently endorsing what he says at times. Maybe it is the Marathi boy in me speaking, maybe this is what philosophers call ‘rationale’. I do not know, but the Marathi issue is too close a topic to the heart to not talk about or to brush under the carpet.
Mrs. Pawar was my first link to the Marathi world, a burly woman, she babysat me till while my parents went off to work . It was at her place that I took my toddler steps and ate varan-bhat. I learnt to cuss in the way to school sharing meager space in an autorickshaw with seven other kids. I learnt to read at tuition classes (Mrs. Koregaonkar, who prayed to all the Gods in the pantheon for my passing) and learnt the ‘gavthi’ accent from our bai. I have more friends to whom I speak the language than I care to admit, and have sighed endlessly over ‘davya dolyavar vat’ all the time maintaining my innocence with a studied ‘khara ki!’.
The charm of Marathi is lost in Mumbai people will moan but ask anyone to speak hindi and the words will be littered with offerings form Marathi. Scores of words I use to express myself in lose their beauty in sore translation. How can one explain to a non Maharashtrian what ‘halkat’ is. Or when someone is being a ‘bawlat’. Or what the meaning of ‘maaz’ actually is? To date I call the potato batata and onion kanda regardless of the language I speak in. And what can replace the mellifluousness of a sighing heart, lost in its sweet nothings of ‘premat padloy’. The exclamation ‘haila’ (immortalized by a Mr Tendulkar) to a coy ‘laaz’ and the versatile ‘ai gaa’.
You can take sides all you want, I am content sitting on the fence here. Or maybe even on the other side, where comfort takes precedence over language and words are no longer hindered by thoughts. It is not years of schooling that have made me Marathi, neither is it long nights of mugging up textbooks. Belonging doesn’t stem from laughing helplessly over PL Deshpande’s works or from sipping the perfect solkadhi. I can live in the USA, consume mounds of rice drenched in rasam but when the going gets tough I sigh a fortituous ‘sagla bara hoil’ and that’s really all it is to it.
gavthi: pertaining to the country, rural
davya dolyavar vat : curl of hair over the right eye, line from a famous song
khara ki: really?
halakt: a man of loose morals
bawlat: irksome, troublesome? I cannot find an exact meaning, peevish maybe?
maaz: charbi(Hindi), kozhupu(Tamil)
premat padloy: fallen in love
haila, ai gaa: exclamations!
laaz: shame, blush
solkadhi: a Konkani dal with kokum in it, is simply awesome
sagla bara hoil: all will be well