We all like to think that we're educated, that we have some sort of knowledge base which gives us a measure of control, however tenuous, over a wilful and capricious thing called life. Recently, however, I've begun to think that we're really fooling ourselves, coz our education is woefully incomplete. I made this momentous discovery while in the process of watching a movie set in the heartland of India. Now I've always believed myself to be relatively proficient in Hindi, but I was unable to follow roughly one-third of the exchange onscreen, because it was part of the great nebulous unknown that our educators had deemed unfit for us, in the interests of preserving our innocence(!?!). In short, these men were swearing at each other in full flow, and I couldn't comprehend any of it. I left the movie thinking that I'd never imagined that the day would come when I'd wish for a Hindi movie to be subtitled in English!!
I was left with a feeling of vague dissatisfaction, beacuse I had enjoyed the rest of the movie so immensely. I resolved to buy myself a VCD of the same, but with enlightening subtitiles. The opportunity presented itself after barely a month or so. Gleefully, I sat down to watch, only to realize, to my consternation, that the subtitles were made in keeping with the sensibilities of a Victorian woman of high rank, so they artfully dodged the abuses. Then of course it came home to me that I couldn't really expect subtitles which said,"so and so part of the anatomy of so and so member of your nuclear family" etc. You get my drift. That set me thinking about how the construction of abuses made such flawless use of psychological and sociological facts, like the association of certain body parts with privacy, and hence, sustaining of greater losses in case of violation, and the importance of family, so that your closest ones would be targetted according to a hierarchy: the closer the relationship, the greater the degree of filth.
Also recently, my friends and I were perplexed by a certain phrase which did allude to a close member of the family but the corresponding body part was totally innocuous. We'd already asked sundry friends, acquaintances and relatives about it. Without exception, they were either ignorant, feigned ignorance or, worse still, patted us on our heads and told us to run along and play, as young ladies could really gain nothing by knowing things like this which were designed to make our ears shrivel up. So, as the last resort, we asked an indirect friend(friend of a direct friend). Now this gentleman's propensity to use swear words is so marked that he could almost be using them as harmless pleasantries, as I suspect he is. So he told us that the innocuous body part is actually a clever substitute for more innuendo loaded organs of the human anatomy. He also imparted the knowledge that we could now skilfully tailor our own abuses by using the principle of substitution (examples: ma ka haath, baap ka pair etc.).
My point is, my whole life has been spent in the pursuit of education, including the intricacies of language. I really shouldn't be reduced to gaping at a movie screen because my ears could have shrivelled up had I been earlier informed of the existence and meaning of certain choice words and phrases. I resent that assumption, coz now I've heard them all, I realize what they mean, I'm still circumspect about using them, and MY EARS ARE FINE, THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!