Dilemma of an Odia

The maiden trip out of Odisha Pravat took was when he went to Kolkata for his summer internship. The first hurdle that one faces while going out of his/her domicile, is communication. Pravat was no exception. With no knowledge of the native Bengali language, only options left were to either speak in English or Hindi. The latter is more practical for communicating with all strata of people. And that was his first experience of thinking in Odia, translating it in Hindi and then speaking it in Hindi (with the typical Odia accent)! The process got optimised during the one month stay in Kolkata, which was relatively safer with respect to the semantics of Hindi language. As Bengalis are no better in terms of control over the Hindi language, Pravat never felt awkward when he went awfully wrong in a pronounciation or in grammar somewhere! After he came back home, he could feel his metamorphosis!

Fate takes you to places that you have never imagined. Pravat’s next stint away from Odisha was at Mumbai, where suddenly the system he had fine-tuned to speak Hindi, was questioned. The accent had changed, people were fussy about grammar (He still makes mistakes in determining the gender of a word!) and it was damning to get exposed and being laughed at. But the warrior inside him was still strong to take up the task to further streamline the translation process! So the focus shifted to have total control over literal aspects of Hindi apart from the new accent. And bingo, it started working. Pravat got the confirmation when an usual critic said he was not sounding a non-Hindi speaking guy anymore! Pravat kept the system intact by further polishing it as and when possible.

The difference between the spans of time spent in Odisha and at his work place, was gradually increasing. So was the switching between the inbuilt and the acquired system of communication. Many a times they used to get altered, leading to funny situations. But overall the communication system was well established. Pravat was no more pronuncing ‘Very’ as ‘Bhery’, speaking without showing up his Odia accent while speaking Hindi. The feeling used to be content while speaking to people in Hindi.

During all this transformation, one thing never changed: Pravat’s attachment with the mother tongue. He’s still very particular about the semantics and accent of the classical language Odia. Pravat makes liberal use of English words while speaking in Odia. Fakir Mohan is one of his best literary figures, even after him using many Urdu words in his works. Pravat has been abstaining from Ollywood for almost a decade now (which he feels has become a copycat industry at the cost of Odia language). Pravat didn’t like the Rangabati song by Sona Mahapatra as he felt it ruined the rustic folk song that’s in blood of every Odia. Most importantly Pravat doesn’t like to crib about everything about being an Odia.

Question here is “what does that make Pravat? An opportunistic Odia from a backward state with no love for the mother tongue or a practical Odia with ambitions and love for other languages too, other than the mother tongue?”


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