My last biking trip was around 1500 kms long. Alone, being my own sole companion. I went biking from Ayodhya to Sarnatha to Baksar-Ara and Patna. And then from Patna to Gaya to Nalanda and Rajgir. My last destination was Bodhgaya, where I went to see the temple of Lord Buddha. Before my journey began, I decided not to speak in Hindi anywhere. I used Awadhi- my mother tongue, to converse. When I shared this experience with my friends, who do not belong to my state, Uttar Pradesh or the one where my trip unfolded- Bihar, they simply wondered. But I found that while I traveled from mountains to the plains of UP-Bihar and also in Madhya Pradesh, that people easily understand Awadhi. At all the places I travelled on my bike last time, no one asked, “What did you say?”.
One of my friends told me that it might be the effect of the Ramcharitmanas (a famous Indian epic), but I don’t think that's true because the language used by Tulsi Das (the man who wrote it) is not pure Awadhi. Or, from a different perspective, we can conclude that his language has never really been used in the Awadh region by anyone. It is all mixed with Sanskrit. When we talk about epics written in Awadhi, only Malik Mohammad Jayasi used pure and authentic Awadhi. Sometimes I wonder what must have been in the mind of Mr. Jayasi that he wrote an epic on the Queen of Chittor (now in Rajasthan, the desert part of India), sitting in Amethi, which belongs to the Indian Northern Plains, far away from Chittor. Surprisingly, not many people know that Awadhi is often used in Pakistan. And people in Surinam, Holland, Mauritius understand it too! One of my Surinami friends told me that they speak a mix of five north Indian languages and Awadhi is one of them. He doesn’t know the pure Awadhi poet Mr. Jayasi, but he said that Ramcharitmanas of Tulsi is one of the most read books in his country. He thinks that Hindi- the national language of India, is an encroachment. He says that he uses a mix of five languages and sometimes puts in some Dutch and Creole words for local needs. Putting Hindi words will get quite confusing for people because then that’ll become a whole new language. He was sad about the fact that people in his place have started using Hindi words in his 150 year old language -Surinami Hindustani. After all these experiences, I wonder if I should be sad for my language- Awadhi.
Translated by Rahul, Edited by Sweta, Final proof by Scharda