Open Page

Language and levity

Delhi’s Govind Ballabh Pant Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education and Research has withdrawn its recent controversial order forbidding Malayali nurses from speaking their mother tongue in the hospital, but nurses beware!

One of my friends, a doctor, migrated to the U.K. with his family a couple of decades ago. His two sons became doctors and are now working in their immigrant country. As can be expected, the hospitals where they work have many Malayali nurses.

In the hospital where the younger son works, all these nurses know that he is a Malayali. In any case, his name unequivocally proclaims it. And he speaks to them in Malayalam whenever possible. He had even managed to make them happily share their home-made Kerala foods with him.

The elder son’s name is no giveaway. It sounds more like a north Indian name. Just two initials and a non-specific Indian name. And he never speaks Malayalam in the hospital, though fluent in it.

In short, the nurses still don’t have a clue that he speaks and understands Malayalam. And for some reason or the other, he never bothered to reveal his true identity. (Now he can’t reveal it also!)

The poor nurses speak to each other in Malayalam thinking that this doctor can’t understand a thing. We can’t imagine what all things they blurt out within his earshot.

His father is of the opinion that his son should have revealed his identity on day one itself. He told me that this elder son just sits there doing his work nonchalantly hearing all their secrets as if he doesn’t understand a thing.

Wonder what will be the reaction of the nurses if one day they find out his true identity!

drtitusjohn@gmail.com


Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Sep 27, 2021 7:38:01 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/language-and-levity/article34986650.ece

Next Story