When I say my mother tongue is Tamil, I feel a bond for my roots and understanding of our traditions and culture. When I used to be a young child, I used to follow my parents to Tanjore, India. We used to transit via Madras (now known as Chennai). It was a wonderful feeling which begins from boarding the plane till we arrive at the airport. The customs used to drag our clearance and it will take forever to leave the airport. Once we step outside, the smell and feeling is completely different from Singapore. Its the smell of nature, grass, cows, dungs, burnings, etc. I loved it. It made me feel like I am back to where my parents were from. The sense of root bonding strengthens gradually as we journey in a rental car (ambassador to be specific), to our village, Attikadai. A small village but with lots of influential people, located in Tiruvaarur district, Tanjore, India.
I may be true blue Singaporean, born and bred here. These visits made me realise the importance of upholding our family traditions and culture which my parents had upheld since young. I was determined to do the same as I grew older though I was a little rebellious when I was a kid.
Once we reached our home, a nice big house with backyard, front porch and an unfinished 2nd level house, we usually lay in the swing in the 2nd Hall. Yes there were about 3 halls in that house and 3 rooms in the first level. The 2nd storey was mostly locked up as my parents didn’t have the human resource to oversee the completion of the construction.
Everyone, will come by to visit us knowing we have arrived from abroad. Its a feeling you can never beat. Your relatives, neighbours, cousins,near or far. Almost everyone knew me! Yes they all knew me but I don’t know them. They even acknowledged me fondly by my name and knew me as my mothers daughter. That shows the friendship and closeness between them and my mother. My mom grew up in this village but my dad had to join his father in Singapore at an age of 8years old.
The best part of my trip to India is we get to spend almost 1 whole month. Its awesome! Playing in the sand, stepping on cowdungs, visiting everyone. All will receive with open arms. I loved all of my time there. Its a pity these days kids do not have such an opportunity do so in Singapore.
We even had time to attend a wedding in December, usually a wedding season. We stayed there throughout the processes. The mehendi night, wedding day, post wedding feasts. The ladies will be gathered preparing for the events whereas the kids will just run around and have fun. My two cousins and I were almost inseparable. These memories are still vivid in my mind.
What I wrote is a small portion of my love and bond I feel for my parents natives and roots. I still hope to revisit this place and yet I have a fear that these beautiful memories will be belittled by the reality of how things may have changed.
Such was a reason for my determination to inculcate my mother tongue to my kids. They learn so much so why not our Mother tongue for the sake of our roots, tradition and culture.
We are basically humble muslims and prayers and other obligations are a must to learn. We also share very close relationship with other neighbours of other faiths in India. They are very long loyal friends to my grandparents. This really makes me happy to know there is still harmony and bliss amidst all the media’s report of religious clashes.
We treasure peace and love among each other and will not do anything to jeopardise this. Islam is a peace loving religion, we stand up for it!
I sincerely hope my children and modern kids understand the value of understanding our roots and uphold the beautiful mother tongue, Tamil.