She was beautiful, doe eyed and South Indian, and every time, we met after college, and I recounted something I’d been through during the day, she would exclaim, “Aiyo!”
Aiyo, covered all her emotions, from ‘Oh dear!” to ‘’Oh no!” in sadness and even in joy, could ‘aiyo’ be used.
A few years back, the English dictionary welcomed ‘Aiyo’ into it’s pristine pages!
Aiyo, must have squealed, “But I’m an ordinary South Indian word!”
“Yes,” the English Dictionary with BBC accent must have said, “But you express best, what our words cannot!”
I wonder what my masters and teachers in the school I studied in, would have said of this. Most of them, were Australian, an Englishman and an Irishman too. I doubt their stiff upper lips would have deigned utter such Indian a word, even if they were want for expression.
“We have words like ‘dearie me’ and ‘awesome’!” they would have muttered, but the Dictionary was firm, and with a blowing of trumpets and much fireworks, ‘Aiyo’ was marched into it’s fold.
I can hear Samuel Johnson, the one who compiled the first dictionary saying, “The greatness of the English language is that it borrows from others and thereby enriches itself!”
And that is how this language has become the language of communication the world over, because it is all embracing, all inclusive, and partakes from the best of words from other languages, to enhance and build itself up.
I wish, our world leaders could learn something here: Today, they lead their countries from one disaster to another, from economic follies to looming economic depressions, all because they are unwilling to invite specialists to advise them. Just imagine, if English had told the Vikings, “We have enough words to express everything, we don’t need your Old Norse!”
And like the French, which only the French speak, English would have remained Anglo or Saxon and gently faded away.
Like I said, we need to learn from the acceptance of simple “Aiyo!”
That when we accept a thought from others it does not belittle us or our nation. That with specialized knowledge comes power, comes a method to tackle giant problems.
We need to listen to economists, who have been recognized internationally and not rely only on those who are from our shores or speak just our thoughts. Embrace them, include them, and use their wisdom.
Listen to scientists, and research scholars from outside, hear and follow what they have to say.
Listen to history, and realize from the past that injustice and brutality only lead to anarchy.
And when our leaders don’t include, push out and exclude, use desi solutions and think they are know-all’s to giant economic and pandemic problems, then the only word the world can utter, and now, not just my doe-eyed South Indian friend, as we watch folly after folly, is ‘Aiyo..!’(Published on 13th July 2020, Volume XXXII, Issue 29)