OUTLOOK — By Majed Al Sulaimany —
- You all are not listening to me! — My 7-year granddaughter to us.
- This is an old type of phone — it has no touch screen — My 5-year-old granddaughter to her grandmother.
- Grandfather — you are diabetic — just eat only little cake — you hear me? — My 5-year-old granddaughter.
- You (English) Come here (Arabic) — to each other!
- You think we are all small children? We know you are all planning to go to Dubai. You cannot fool us anymore. We also want to come with you this time! — All three of them in unison!
- All babies start to speak the first same words — like mama, baba etc — The Babies Film & Documentary.
A long time ago when we were kids, we never dared to want to eat with our parents. The children ate separately — but if ‘you were promoted’ because you had started to fast the Holy Month of Ramadhan — it was a great honour and privilege if you would be allowed to eat with the elders. This plan of action sometimes worked with our children — but it has seemed to fail dismally with their own kids — who insist for a place at the table — just like their elders!
When it comes to electronic goods, they seem at most ease and comfort with all kinds of gadgets and tools — even with the latest iPads and Androids! If you are not careful — they could embarrass you by showing you even how to ‘use the simple gadgets, tools and applications’.
A person was even telling me that his 12-year-old daughter was confiding with her mother that Dad has pictures of ‘not properly dressed ladies’ in his iPad! Which means that one has be to careful with even the Messaging, Contacts and the Photos Gallery in your phone — before she tells Mum why is Dad chatting with ‘Aunty Smarty’ — and there are some photos of her too in his phone! Or the worst case scenario — if she will ask Aunty Smarty ‘why’ in front of you all — and when you all least expected it!
The other day a friend of mine told me that he is still in ‘shock and awe’ when his granddaughter (7) had told him bluntly — that she wanted him to tell the father of Bright Boy to come and marry her. So please be careful with those jokes and teases that our parents would do at ease to us when we were kids — and nothing would happen — but here now it does or can happen — tongue in cheek speaking!
And then it comes to languages. They know what language to speak with which uncle or aunty. And that comes to the point that many speak do different languages as first languages — and with the outmost ease and efficiency. Thus English and Arabic are dual spoken — with most ease and comfort — and in some who have come from ex-French colonial places — including French too — and isolated places even German too!
If you try to incorporate ethnic based languages like Swahili — they will laugh and mock you — why are you speaking in Hindi? If you say it is not Hindi — it is Swahili — they retort — well, it sounds like Hindi to me! Although some try to speak the lingo — quite a large number try not to — which is a very peculiar thing in many in this community — though in some have not forgotten the ‘roots, ethnicity and backgrounds’ — just like in other groups.
And what is worrying — at least for people like me! — is the tendency to rather look down on their friends who speak only Arabic — and their feelings that ‘they need to teach them the other languages that they know — so they can be like them too’ — and the reluctances and in fights — because in most probabilities these children have been brought up to ignore other languages — and to remain proud that they can speak only Arabic!
Children are fast learners. When my younger brothers and sisters came with us and were put in school — unfortunately at that time in 1970s — there were few private schools and were very expensive to say the least — they had to go to Arabic Schools. I remember my younger sister coming home everyday crying — saying she was in Standard 8 Tanzanian system — which is higher school entry level — but she was put in class 3 here — and what saved her was her Quran knowledge. She did not give up and overcame — to go on to College — and even postgraduate level. Where there is a will — there is a way for sure!
It would be advisable to note this very valid point. Speaking a language is an asset. Poor Ghaddafi was trying to encourage Swahili as a lingua franca for Africa — and he succeeded in making it spoken to even up to borders of Central African Republics — as the local first language after French.
At least President Obama’s father spoke Swahili too — so it is not an embarrassment if one knows the language — and one can speak it too! This perception and outlook needs to change now too — because my first shock in meeting my uncle from home town was he speaking to us in Arabic in 1970s when we came here. Though we could hear him — but he ‘was feeling embarrassed’ because we were replying back in Swahili!
The girl who wrote in the other newspaper of people knowing our history and backgrounds in full makes a lot of sense to me. Even those parts we try to hide and overlook — and or are not being taught in schools. Even the ugly and unpleasant parts — we owe it to history — and future generations!
Let us look at the best example of countries like India and USA — and Oman too is a great nation — with much and rich history and backgrounds!
Important thing is that we should learn from each other — love each other — and live as one — under One Flag and One Nation — Amin! Take Care!