(Dont know malayalam- when spoken in the ‘fake’ mallu accent can also mean ‘cannot SLICE malayalam’)
A little knowledge of malayalam is advisible for this post.
I have read many posts on misadventures of malayalees speaking hindi- some original, some copied. Quite ashamed to admit it, but in my family we have had our embarrassing moments trying to speak our mother tongue- Malayalam.
During those long evening family prayers (when all except Ammachi are alseep), in response to the Litany to the Blessed Mary everyone mechanically responds ‘Njangalku vendi apeyshikanamey’ (pray for us)…Now the jus-returned-from- Ooty-boarding-school uncles in an attempt to actively take part in prayer and listening to Appachan started responding ‘En CONDITIONamey’….
In Malayam, (if I can translate per se) we try to ‘make sure our prayer reaches’ God. (That should explain one and half hour long Sunday mass) My sister is generally good with her Malayalam, except one day when she told father- “Daddy nammakku prarthana CHETHIKYAM”… Dad with the ‘why-did-I-bring-these-girls-out-of-Kerala’ look, corrects her- ‘Moley prarthana CHETHIKYAM alla, ETHIKYAM (refer to ‘reaching prayer’ logic)’
P.s chettiya has no sensible meaning as far my knowledge of Malayalam goes.
Yours truly- the worst in the lot. My knowledge of Malayalam is purely phonetical and vocabulary mostly picked up from movies or Asianet. If my younger cousins want to outsmart me all they do is ask me the numbers in Malayalam-especially 85 and 95. If they want instant entertainment, copy of Malayalam Manorama is pushed in front of me.
Once sitting and watching Ammachi dry betel nut (adakya) in the sun, I innocently asked Mum- “Ammey idano olakyya”!!! (Dear cousins don’t say ‘olakya’ or ‘thenga kola’ in front of kids). Or the regular question I ask Mum- Amma ente pillowna evidey? (Mum where is my pillow- talona in mallu) The other day I wanted to scrap a malayalee friend ‘endu patti’ (wat happened)..typo error it ended up being ‘enda patti’!!
When I was enrolled in St. Teresas’s school in class 8, girls in class viewed me as the NRK mallu from Bombay and I did get a good share of attention and respect. So much so girls would try (uncomfortably) to speak in English or not talk to me at all. [Little did they know that I was not speaking to them cause I was not comfortable with my malayalam]. In addition, the strict Chemistry teacher was my aunt. So no messing with the new girl in class. Now the tailors were taking more than 3 weeks to stitch the new uniform. On enquiring
Me- Uncle uniform eppo kittum? (wen will I get the uniform)
Tailor- “uniform chuvayazhicha kittum” (u will get the uniform on chuvayazhicha)
Me- “chuvayazhicha paranya” (what is chuvayazhicha )
Tailor- “kuttyikku Malayalam ariyillale- toosday toosday” (kid u don’t know Malayalam. Tuesday)
Now on the way back, I chat with some other northy friends and laugh and say “ooh chuvayazhicha matlab magalwaar” and all of us repeat that line a zillion times in the break. Break ends. Class teacher walks in.
Teacher- “Anndey uniform ready aayile?” (Ann isn’t your uniform ready?)
(Since the question was posed in Malayalam and I was not on guard I respond back in malayalam)
Me- “Illya ma’am. Tailor parayanu enikku uniform MANGALAZHICHA kittum” (No. Tailor said I will get it on MANGALAZHICHA)
Rest is history- I was the butt of jokes in class for the next one week. I was reduced to a normal student and started speaking in broken Malayalam and my friends in English to me…
I am very grateful to my father for taking us out of Kerala because with our family practices, my priorities today would have only been a husband and two kids. But somewhere along the line I regret the fact that I do not know much about my state, my culture, my language (and most of my relatives). And it is sad that most malayalees take pride in saying that they don’t know their language or their culture. And even if they do know, deny it and fake a ‘malayalam-is-so-difficult-for-me’ accent. And i have noticed this is more among the fairer sex. Those chechis at St. Teresa’s college and convent junction, endless heroines in movies, kitty party aunties in Ernakulam south and rotrary clubs, the funny hostess of Idea Star Singer… What is sadder is that NORMALayalees tend to put these ABNORMALayaless on a pedestal!!