After dinner, everyone gathers around in Ammi Abba’s room and we read a couple of a Ahadees from a book. The book we read from is in Urdu and everyone has to take turns to read it.
The first day that happened, Abdullah made ten mistakes in three lines that he read. The next day, one of his siblings could not even get through the first line and the other was just okay. I was the only one who read the whole thing without a single mistake.
That observation made me sad. I love being bilingual despite the fact that growing up, I hated studying Urdu as a language because it’s very tough. It was the only subject I lost marks in, without any explanation.
You have what is called Tashreeh where you have to interpret the Poet’s poems and write about it in detail. There were essays written on topics I had not even heard about. On top of the language being so hard, the book that was assigned to us was ten times worse. The chapters were lengthy with literally zero meaning, dated 30 years back.
I never liked Urdu and used to object studying it. In my opinion, it should have stopped being a subject a long time ago. In the two years that have passed since I finished school, I have used it probably once and that also to write a recipe for someone who didn’t know English. So for me, Urdu was not even practical because it was not in our daily usage.
About a month or two ago, my mom gave me Bano Qudsia’s book “Rahe Rawan” which is a biography of her late husband and writer, Ishtiaq Ahmed. It took me about two weeks to read it, a lot of skipping in between and I still could not finish the whole book.
Honestly, I loved the way she wrote. It was not her writing style, it was what she wrote that was incredible. You realize what mind of thoughts she comes from. The fiction books I read daily are not even tenth of what she had written in that book. Her thoughts were a reflection of what I had in mind. That book made me ponder on her written words. That was the moment, I truly regretted not reading enough Urdu books. And I have read a lot of Urdu books. Even then there was so much I could not get my head around.
Whatever my past opinions have been, now I am grateful for studying Urdu as a subject. Because whenever I read something, it feels like I have a part of my roots with me. Not only does it represent me but my parents and extended family as well. I might not consider it home but it’s where I was born and where I am from. People who grew up there shaped my thinking, brought me up based on what they had learned from that country and it’s language.