From No to Know

POETRY FORMAT, 31 May 2021

Dr. Ravi P. Bhatia – TRANSCEND Media Service

Not knowing a word of the lingo
Necessary to be admitted to this school
The New Delhi     Irish Brothers School 
The Brothers wearing white traditional frocks

So you want your son to be admitted here
Was the first question, he asked my poor mother
Yes she demurely nodded, why ask this obvious question
What is your name Sonny, he threw these words at me

Not knowing a word of this lingo I remained silent
My mother stood up to take the EXIT movement
Wait a moment, he wrote some Maths question
That had signs of multiplication and division

I knew these symbols, answered the puzzles with precision
Hey Sonny boy, welcome to this great Boys’ institution
But learn a few words like YES and NO
No, you cannot go now, wait for the bell to ring

My first days were interesting
The teacher asked my name, No problem
She asked some questions I did not understand
The boys raised their hands — I know, I know

I knew only one word that sounded the same – NO
Why are they saying I am not, I am not
I knew the alphabet from A to Zed
But could not differentiate No from Know

It took a few weeks to realise English is a funny lingo
That could make many a head twirl in confusion
Well well
Hey why I am talking of the place full of water

I told you English is a funny lingo
With no rhyme or reason
How come the English people ruled India
How come we did not hold them for treason


Dr Ravi P Bhatia is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace Development Environment, an educationist, Gandhian scholar and peace researcher. Retired professor, Delhi University. His new book, A Garland of Ideas—Gandhian, Religious, Educational, Environmental was published recently in Delhi.


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 31 May 2021.

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