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An Intriguing Conversation

An Intriguing Conversation

3 mins 269 3 mins 269

“It has been a long time since we met, hasn’t it?” asked Kalavati.

Haan Jee!” exclaimed Shylaja. “Aap gaye the America, beti ke paas?”

“Yes. In fact, I returned just last week. What about you? Did you go to Lucknow?”

Haan jee. Mai toh Lucknow se Benaras bhi jaake aa gayi.”

The conversation between the two friends continued in this manner for some time. The waiter who was serving them coffee was amazed at the way one of them was speaking in English, while the other was replying in Hindi. Unable to contain his curiosity, he intercepted with a question.

“Ma’am, I have been hearing from you both for some time. It is apparent that both can understand each other, which means you know both English and Hindi. Then why is it that you speak English whereas your friend answers in Hindi.”

Kalavati burst out laughing. She looked at Shylaja who was almost falling over trying to control her mirth. The waiter looked at them in astonishment, wondering what he could have said to tickle their humor to such an extent.

Seeing his confusion, Kalavati controlled herself and replied.

“Yes. We do know English and Hindi now. But it was not like that always. A few years back, I spoke only in Hindi. I could not speak a word of English. And it did not matter much as I have always lived in Kanpur, where everyone could understand what I was speaking. But then my daughter got married and shifted to the USA. When she became pregnant, she wanted me to go and stay with her at least for a few months. I too wanted to be with my daughter during that time. That’s when I realized that my zero knowledge of English was going to be an impediment. I was not confident at all. That’s when Shylaja became my neighbor in Kanpur. She is from Tamil Nadu and knew nothing of Hindi. Somehow, even though we could not converse much, we became friends. It was then that we made a pact between ourselves. We decided that she would try and speak in Hindi to me and I would try and answer in English. We would pore over the English-Hindi dictionary and find appropriate words for normal conversation. She would correct my English when I went wrong and I would do the same for her in Hindi. By the time I left for the USA, I had picked up quite a few phrases and could manage an ordinary conversation. My daughter was stunned to see me speak in English, though it was not perfect. She insisted that I continue with the practice and now I have the confidence to manage anywhere on my own.”

Shylaja picked up where Kalavati stopped. “I did the same here with the Hindi language. Kalavati helped me so much before she left, that I could already manage the routine conversation with my maidservant and the vegetable sellers at the market. I continued to speak in Hindi whenever I could, looking up the dictionary for words that I did not understand. I started watching Hindi TV serials and slowly got the hang of it.”

The waiter was truly stunned. “Ma’am, you both are really inspiring,” he exclaimed.

Kalavati said with a smile, “It all depends on oneself. If one sets his or her mind to achieve a goal, they can do it. No task is impossible in this world. It is about how much you want to do it.”

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