All is not lost

Representational Image

The understanding of cultural capital has come in vogue since Bourdieu disseminated it in Social Sciences. It has led us to comprehend the relativity of different cultures in terms of estrangement and empowerment of the individual and groups.  Despite demeaning of our language, we have retained the spilt threads of that cultural capital that still has repertoire of symbolic center, generating our being as fractured persons. Could any society imagine the loss of original script of its language, yet pretending to be a prideful society?  It is not possible. Kashmiri pandits or Musalmans, both are deprived of this accumulated capital, which has caused them a poorer persona, despite an affluent emergent educated middle class. This tale has remained untold concealed in political discourse. With the compulsions of migrations and displacements, Pandits have not been able to retain what they had in the valley. And in the valley, the non-native subjugation before independence and non-native referent, after 1950s, never allowed us to be a prideful community.  The loss of one’s own language is a loss of one’s own self. The realm of language is strategic for the concerns of human nature. ‘Demean the language of a community; it would lose its existential meaning of the community’. The attributes of human nature mainly rests on language, speech, family, systems and symbolic communications and myths. It is all structured. ‘Man is, above all, a language animal’. The mechanism of learning one’s own language is natural but a ‘highly explicit and detailed schematization’ that child acquires without any hassle and visibility. Chomsky would tell us linguistic competence underlines human behavior, which may not be manifested in direct interactions. Since, we have humiliated our own language, we have brought a deep split of our mind and body. Unlike Descartes dualistic mind body independence, the latest studies of Chomsky or even his critic Benoist agrees that mind is not blank paper but ‘innate structure of language’. Mind can deduce from different and multiple languages from the basic native language to amplify its canvas. This we can easily see metaphorically in relative understanding of different cultures. The two case studies of recent experience can reveal split and continuity of conversion of cultural capital.

Professor Saleem Wani, a competent gentle handsome doctor did his M.Ch in Urology from Banaras Hindu University, some years ago. I knew him from there and we are judicious friends to take reasonable liberties of each other’s expertise. My childhood friend told me that he was suffering from prostrate. Instantly Professor Saleem came to my mind. And I suggested him to consult Prof. Wani, one of the best in the field. Since he is a reputed and busy doctor in an Institute, my friend wanted that I should fix appointment and soft word for him. I did and professor Saleem obliged me and he was operated upon with best care and competence, to his relief and satisfaction. I am grateful to the doctor that my friend got the timely treatment. Here is a sociological reflection. My friend  during his appointments with the doctor before the actual operations, many times would insist that I should put a word with the doctor so that he does not have to remain standing in queue for a longer time. A couple of times I did, but my friend, as a patient would say, said it persistently before his appointments with the doctor.  One day, when his operation had to be finalized, I had curiosity to know when it would be done, so that I should be in touch with my doctor friend. To my surprise, I was conveyed by my friend that doctor sahib might get disturbed with my persistent calls. My friend’s saying so must not be without reason. I accepted and later on doctor himself informed me that my patient was operated for seven hours and God willing he would be alright. I was relieved, but many questions did come to my mind. Could it ever be possible to take liberty again with my doctor friend, who is professionally busy person and then a Kashmiri as well for me? There is no affection lost, patient treated well with care and competence, yet that predictability undermined, which is cultural, riven in our past and in contemporarily lacking, as well.

The second case is again a real experience. My daughter who had to go for regular classes from February first in her MBBS course in Mysore Medical College on our arrival in city on 27th January, she had high fever on her arrival at Mysore. Early in the morning, I went down to the street to know where the near hospital was. I might have asked some body and to my pleasant surprise he tells me, I should go to Dr Javid  Nayeem in Jeev Hospital and the doctor would be in his chamber at 11 am. I took it a divine intervention and returned to my apartment. Exactly at 10.45 am, the same person appears with a cab to tell me to take my patient to the doctor. With instruction to the driver, I was simply overwhelmed with gratitude.  The appointment was like a meeting with an angel. The treatment was simple and competent so as to be indebted to the doctor and the god who sent that person to me. Without knowing much about me, Dr  Javid  appeared like a friend of ages. In one of the instances, I had paid my fees at reception for some consultation. He came to know about that and called the receptionist and ordered her to return my fees without any argument. I insisted a little and he without mincing his words told me that ‘It is not humanism’. I wish if it could come to us also. In a reflective way, I remember Banaras, where COVID has spread gloom. I wish I could show him whole Banaras, especially the poor lot who are under persistent threat of ailments with helplessness. In a sociological imagination, when I thought over it I understand Dr Javid Sahib is proud of his culture, takes joy in speaking Kannada language and is a writer in his own right, a proud Mysorian.  Mysorians are proud of their organic blending culture. It has evolved in such a way, it does not contradict religion, profession or other social constructs but takes pride in the intrinsic capacity of his language and culture. Recognition of the family system and social acts of symbolic communications meet the requisites of conveying meaning without any split or bondage of history. This is missing in our case, individually or collectively, as Kashmiris.

What an irony it is; Kashmiri language has remained with us as an inferior stream of communication, where we let out our deprivations or frustrations through laughing at ourselves or doing mimicry of others. That has been its use. Its original script was Sharda script. It is gone, we tried it in Persian script and now Devnagri as well. It has lost that sheen, which the languages of their communities hold. Initially, thrown out from power realms, it is disappearing from social spaces as well. We willfully have dissociated ourselves from it and in return, it has taken away our natural self from us. Despite we want to help one another as friends, as professionals, and we do, yet it doesn’t gather accumulative trust in institutions nor in personal relations.  The split is because of our fragmented culture and loss of pride in our language.  We become victims of it willfully or unwillingly in our cognitive landscape. No wonder our middle and affluent class travelling all over the world perceive itself in individualized personage, unmindful of human nature molded in fractured culture lives in directionless  fluidity and live in  created conveniences. The worldly created identities are political, one is in clash with identity from innate one and of natural quality.  This is not sustainability. Empowerment should be willfully from homes and Kashmiri language should grow naturally  not  be evaluated from the centering referent.

The author is a Emeritus professor  in sociology at Banaras Hindu university