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Theka, thela and aap!

1. One of my earliest childhood memories is related to my great grandfather reading a newspaper one morning. I must have started learning Hindi reading for he decided to test my skills. He was wearing glasses and reading it in the drawing room of our grandparents’ house where we used to live. Since he chose to test my skills for reading the title of the newspaper: it’s obvious that such tests hadn’t been conducted before. There’s no way to produce any corroboration for what my exact age was.

2. I read it aloud using the image on the front page, just below the title . I had only begin to read when I saw that image and thought it was an easy way out. It wasn’t. I read ‘Naav Bharat.’ Naav is a synonym for boat in Hindi which was there in the image. He immediately corrected me saying “Nav not Naav.” Nav in Hindi means new and Bharat is for India. In my very first test of reading I was cheating. Using an easy way out with the imagery available. The late old man was barely literate used dialect of Hindi prevalent in his region.

3. In another such event my parents were residing besides the aforementioned house in a rented room and I once visited my grandfather. He took me in the house and then as I was talking about my father he used a word which was new to me. To indicate that he didn’t feel responsible for my father- he said “Hamne tumhaare baap ka THEKA nahi liya hai.” It was obviously used only to tease a young child.

4. Theka was too much to interpret. I had heard thela. Thela was a moving vehicle with six wheels. Biggest vehicle on road. Thela is also used for wooden four wheelers pushed by peddlers. As soon as he uttered the word- an image of a truck was created in my mind. It stayed as one confusing word thela/theka, until I knew better.

5. Thela or thelo is also used as a verb which means: to push. That’s why hand pulled or pushed wooden vehicles are called by that name.

6. I sing a poem for my kindergarten student. This was learned a very long ago by heart. The story in the verse has to do with an old woman who buys a big pot to trick lions and tigers on path:

Image courtesy: Twitter and Google.

7. As soon as I speak the 11th line: “Usme baithee budhiya aap,” the kid gets confused about the usage of word aap. It means by herself here. He has only been accustomed to the usage of word as second person pronoun used with respect. He asks: “are you insinuating that I am the old lady who sat in the pot?”

8. Abruptly ending a post which was about language: