The desire to learn English

By Divya Kanchinadham

Why do you always wear leggings? Why don’t you wear browser more often?”

I look up at my grandmom between mouthfuls of poha, wondering what this is all about.

My sister and I exchange quizzical looks. Then it strikes us. We burst into peals of laughter.

“Ammamma, they’re called trouser not browser. You can find a browser inside a computer. You don’t wear it.”

My grandmom gives an embarrassed look, “I don’t know English. I wish I knew English.”

“You don’t need to be embarrassed about not knowing English. You are educated, are not dependent on anyone, and more importantly you are fluent in our native tongue.”

“Yes. But I have always wanted to learn English. In my next life I will speak English and go to work like you.”

“You can learn English even now. I’ll teach you.”

“There is no age of learning” 

Smiling shyly she admits, “Am too old for it now.”

“Oh come on! One can never be too old for anything as long as one has the will power to do it.”

“Hmm…maybe in my next life…”

“Fine. Do tell me if you change your mind and feel like learning it in this life. And remember, there’s no guarantee that you will find a teacher as good as me in your next life.”

I wink.

“We’ll see. Now, go. You are getting late for office. We can discuss my English later.”

“Okay. I am leaving now.”

I  complete my breakfast of poha, orange, and almonds and walk out of my house feeling happy about a tummy full of good food.

My grandmom, standing near the door, waits to see me off.

The lift creaks and pulls itself to my floor and stops with a thud. I step in and turn to face ammamma.

She waves enthusiastically. She says In English, “All the best.”

I wave back. As the lift pulls me down, the last thing I notice before she vanishes is the sparkle in her eyes.

The sparkle of waving me bye in English.

Categories: Serial