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Mera Wala English Vinglish

Sridevi made a comeback. The world sat up and noticed.  I did too.

Not that I had expected to. I bought the tickets after reading the reviews. Why waste good money on less than three stars is the logic I usually go by. But the critics were glowing in their praise, and the decision was made. Three tickets to English-Vinglish were bought from the PVR website.

Mera Wala English Vinglish - Nidhi Dorairaj

The only problem, the kidlet refused to come. “Mamma I don’t want to watch movies. I will stay at home and do drawing”. Kindly consider that from the time she was two we have dragged this Beti ji to every  U-rated movie we could get the tickets for.  And never was there much ado about this. Until that day. And she just wouldn’t relent. She didn’t want to go! I was disappointed – not only am I not used to watching movies without running commentary in my ears or “very very urgent” loo breaks or popcorn flying into my nostrils– but as aforementioned – good monies had already been spent on tickets.

So we went – the husband and I. And unsurprisingly the spouse wanted to go “someplace for lunch”, since we had scored an unexpected kid-free date.  “Arre, but we already have bought the tickets”, I dug in. I mean, really, once tickets are bought don’t we have an obligation to go and watch the movie? Off to the movies then. Expectedly husband was fidgeting with his Blackberry throughout the first half, saying, “It is such a slow movie, na?”. He had another observation, “Why have they shown her as being so helpless? I do not like it”. Ah! Somebody was getting uncomfortable.

The second half of the movie had my significant other, even more animated. Every time the delectable Adil Hussain appeared it was hubby’s cue to ask, “Do I make you feel like that sometimes?”. I totally understood then exactly where kidlet got her  ‘loudly whispering in the movie hall’ habit. If  she had been with us she would have surely wondered aloud when Sridevi’s character is shown crying, “Why is Aunty crying?” or “Why is she so sad always” and undoubtedly, “Such a naughty boy!! Made Aunty drop all the laddoos”. Oh yes, she would have surely empathized with the laddoo scene!

Finally when we got back home, the husband updated his Facebook status thus, “Second half not bad. You can go after the interval”. He also offered to make me some tea. My daughter asked me which movie we had gone for. In the heat of her decision ‘not to go for movies’ she had forgotten to check which movie it was that we had meant for her to watch with us.

Here we were, in our very own scene from English Vinglish. Though we all purportedly speak the same language we have various settings of listening, meaning and interpretations. Family babble, family Babel!

While watching the movie I realized that there are so many languages that bind us. And what is spoken aloud is only part of it. Even amidst my daughter’s chattering in one ear and my husband’s mutterings in the other I can still hear my own distinctive voice forming its own opinions . It may not be worth a battle of words, but I do value the security of having my own voice (as opposed to the one I have as a Mommy or a Wife).

And I hope to retain this voice. Indeed I value my distinctive voice too much to give it up for anybody’s sake. Certainly not for my daughter – especially not for her. Simply because I know that I would want the same for her. To retain her individuality and sense of self even when she decides to take on many other roles and mean many things more to other people. I do want her to value others and listen to them – for listening is learning. But at the end of the day she has to listen and follow the voice of her own heart.

So, in my version of English Vinglish Mommy gets to speak in Marathi and the daughter learns to speak it as well as her. She also learns to make ladoos from her Mum. And then she teaches Daadi and Mom how to set up a website for their international (French?) customers – in English of course! Daddy continues to send Mommy off on girlie trips abroad and in return she pretends to listen while he drones about the mysteries of the stock market. Yes, that’s an end I’d like, where everyone gets a chance to be themselves!

Nidhi Dorairaj Bruce is a Freelance writer from Mumbai. With no formal education in Parenting, she has been getting on-the-job training ever since her daughter, affectionately referred to as ‘the kidlet’, arrived on the scene 5 years ago. On Twitter, you can connect with Nidhi @typewritermom