Struggles of Minority Language
Khosh Ámadi be Englisi Farsi fámíle má.
I wanted to share a piece I wrote about struggling to keep on track with Persian with my children. Having had our third child, constant lockdowns and homeschooling.
My sanity was starting to unravel.
Switching to English when im faced with high stress situations is my go to.
As many of my 2nd and 3rd generation friends also would concur.
Persian doesn't come naturally to us!
We have to work on it.
Trust me when I say I get it.
Im working on it every day.
To perpetually and continually remind yourself to switch back to Persian.
Even though it feels way easier to just speak English.
What was that word again?
Which herb is this? rayhú or geshnez?
How do I conjugate this word again?
Ya Khoda its just too hard!!
I totally get it.
Since starting a family of my own, it has seemingly become more and more crucial for me to hold onto this thread of heritage. That connects me to my ancestors and anchors me in those fiery, generous, warm and bubbly traits. Being separated physically from my family made me even more homesick and desperate to hold onto all the memorable threads of my childhood.
Switching to Persian when speaking to my children has been an ongoing challenge. More so since my husband isn't Iranian and we communicate to each other in English. Moving interstate and away from immediate family also didn't help!
There are days I switch back.
There are moments when I do say things in English
when I dont know what they are.
and ive learnt...
And thats ok.
I give myself the grace to accept things that I do not know and will learn from.
But I wanted to share that I too struggle with this even after 6 years of persistence, research, dedication and commitment.
In all honesty English is my favoured language. It comes more naturally to me. I think in English, studied in English. Met my husband and conversed in English.
My best friends speak English. I connect on a deeper level in English and heavens forbid if I try and decipher the calligraphy and depths of a poem by Hafiz. 😂 I mean ill try but 😮💨 my persian is not there yet.
There was a time my son would exclusively respond to me in Persian
ahhh those were the early toddler days.
He was my world and I was his...
then he started school. and suddenly it dawned on him.
He's the only one speaking this foreign gibberish.
His mates don't understand.
It's just HIS crazy Persian family.
Oh OH! Ya dád o bí dád!
I needed to find another way,
a way to make it fun,
exciting... dare I say.... exotic.
and this is when I realised his education wasn't one dimensional. It wasn't just about me forcing Persian down his proverbial Gelú! Although that was a part of it 😏
It was all in the subtle ways to gain his interest, satisfy his natural and innate curiosity.
the chert o pert,
words that I say in passing which he asks me the meaning of.. like
pích píchi, bá namak, kúft!
[words that also cant be directly translated but have depth and rich meanings that cannot be felt unless spoken in that language]
[the tahdig, zereshk, laváshak, the shiriní míriní] we are still working on his love of Ghormeh Sabzí- but thats a whole other story.
[the mámán Bozorg who brings the cháí, the bábá Bozorg who teaches you hokm, the mum who plants all her own herbs, the dad who plays the santúr and sítar, the dáyí who calls you gúsúleh, the ameh who cranks the Persian Bandari music so loud you have to hide in the car and the uncles that play koshtí]
The Persian markets & Persian Festivals
[where they can pick the khíár shúr off the shelf or pick their favourite bags of rice and compete to be the strongest at carrying a 5kg bag!] Or pick their favourite fruit laváshak.
the singing, dancing and carrying on when the daf [persian handheld drum] starts pumping and you cant help but move them hips and gherrrr and beshkan.
and it was me.... making it fun!
Not a chore.
making it a joy,
making it a daily part of his life without it being a big deal.
Persian letters on the fridge,
Persian blocks in the toy cupboard,
Persian books on the shelf,
Persian food in the pantry and fridge,
Persian music and nursery rhymes cranking in the background,
Like breathing... it just happens to be there.. to enrich and add to the depths of experience.
and also, for me to motivate him with new things if he stays the course and continues to persist in his pursuit of learning persian. As he grows older, his interests will ebb and flow.. and thats ok... but the foundation, the bedrock has been laid.. and it will forever be etched in his memory.
what it is to have Persian Blood flowing through your veins.. and really how it connects them to a wealth of experiences that are as unique as they are.
Persian. Pass it on... But make it bá mazeh!