As a kid, I would flinch a little everytime my parents talked to my school teachers in Hindi.
Not that there was any problem in communication.
The teachers obviously understood what they were trying to convey, but I still remember shame being the overpowering emotion in those situations.
Clearly, like millions of children, I grew up thinking Hindi is not 'cool' enough.
I grew up looking for validation that my mother tongue, the language of childhood lullabies and stories, could not get me.
Now that I have grown up, everything about that perspective seems flawed.
My parents worked very hard to get me the kind of education that they couldn't get, so that I can learn things that they didn't learn.
English was one of those things; but thanks to the way our education system and society work, I started considering it, a symbol of 'class'.
And why would I not?
Right from the day I started going to my 'English-medium school', I was directly or indirectly told that English is the superior language.
It was kind of an obligation to be good at English, we would get scolded by teachers for making mistakes.
That seems fair, but I can safely say Hindi was not given the same treatment. It was borderline cool to not score good in the subject.
In a way, you were allowed to be bad at Hindi, without getting your reputation of a 'good student', tarnished.
And with the focus resting almost entirely on this 'reputation', it doesn't come as a surprise that I made active efforts to read more English literature, while ignoring Hindi in the process.
The superiority of English was so deeply ingrained that I also started looking down upon my classmates who were not good at it.
I feel guilty that, in times when I should have helped them, I was busy judging along with many others kids like myself.
Languages are languages.
They are not certificates for intellect and maturity.
And while learning new languages should be encouraged, no one should feel inferior for not knowing a certain, specific one.
I am fortunate I can write and speak in Hindi because it allows me to communicate with people who did not have the 'privilege' of learning English.
And I am fortunate that I can understand Hindi because it allows me to read all the beautiful literature in its truest essence.
Languages exist so that we can express emotions and tell stories, something I value infinitely as a writer.
And there are no rules when it comes to their usage, something evident by the fact that I am writing an article on the beauty of Hindi, in English.
Hindi is a gift that we were given right at birth, but then, school and society happened.
Despite the fact that it is still the primary language of verbal communication for many of us, there's a huge distance between us and Hindi.