"I have never been able, really, to regret anything in all my life. I have always been far much too absorbed in the present moment or the immediate future to think back."
-Albert Camus.

It's hard not to regret what you've done wrong, but i try to live with that idea in my mind. You should regret things done wrong if you're doing it over and over again, and indeed, try to find the solution for your failures but if you look back at your life, the regrets lie in things that you didn't do more than the things you did wrong. Because you do learn something from your mistakes, but you can't do anything but say, 'Hey, i wish i could have done that when i was younger.'

And the Russian language, is one of my biggest regrets of my entire life. It's not like a suicidal regret, like i want to jump off a building for not mastering a Soviet language, just that i thought i could have done better and learn it more properly. After 6 years and yet to master (as in being really fluent in writing and speaking) a foreign language, that's quite unacceptable.

It all started when i was at INTEC, Shah Alam, where we had our prep before coming to Russia. It was basically language studies. Russian language had a different set of alphabets so we started from the very bottom. I was playing truant most of the time. At times i was really sick, as it was a sequela from my fever ridden days before SPM which had continued quite a few times after. But most of the time, i was just lazy.

An as a result, the teacher disliked me. 'Hated me' might sound too strong but i can guess she was close to that.

The pinnacle arrived when i was asked to the whiteboard to write and then read. The magnificent thing was i read it incorrectly. I can't remember the exact word but here's an example. This word here, "медицинского", that means 'medical' in English. Romanized, letter by letter, it should be something like this 'Medisinskogo'. But it is not read as -kogo, as in Latin or English, but should be read as -kava at the ending. So the word should be read this way 'Medisinskava'.

I got off from my chair in that winter cold class room, went to the board, wrote something and i was asked to read. I gazed at the word as if it was a physics' question needing a bogus formula by some Italians with cute surnames like Bernoulli or Machiavelli, and finally, with little confidence, i uttered, yea, you guessed it right.

'Medisinskogo', instead of the right pronunciation of 'Medisinskava'. The teacher offered me a smile and corrected me. That was one of the funniest moments in my life. I didn't regret that because i knew i had lots of time later in Russia to learn the language.

Things changed drastically when i arrived in Volgograd. I was the teacher's pet of my Russian language teachers. Yes. THE teacher's pet. We had 4 Russian language teachers through out the 6 years of studies and all of them sorta liked me one way or the other. I am not implying that i have superior Russian language skills, all i am saying is that i have this mix Russian-Japanese-Malay looks that the teachers really like.

There's proof. Once, when i was in Saint Petersburg, a young Russian girl came up to me while i was waiting for the train to Moscow and gave me a flower. A daisy, it was, if i am not mistaken. She offered me a kiss but i backed off, telling her, 'a flower means much more than kisses'.

Okay, the second part was pure fiction to enhance your reading experience. Yes, a girl did give me a flower, so maybe i've got the exotic looks that those Russian language teachers like about me.

Well, in the end, they liked me because i was able to memorize most of my homework and rarely make grammatical errors. It's not that i am that good, it's just that i use the same sentence construction over and over again so as to minimize my mistakes. And the teachers like that. To rewrite something out of my scope of learning would be a painstaking experience.

Maybe i was not giving that right attitude of learning a foreign language. I tried taking up Arabic by myself but i don't reserve enough time to really really study the language. Language is not just about grammar and writing, the most important element is speaking and you need to train yourself speaking the language. I am so untalkative, which makes it triple hard to master a language. And i wish i could be more spontaneous, because i do take time to figure out words which should exit my mouth.

Language is something extra and there's a lot to it if you master a language. Translator, maybe you could become an ambassador of a foreign country. The menu in foreign language you read in the flights, that's like a professional work, including all other publications big or small. You could be part of an advertising company, a traveling company, or become a correspondent journalist and all that.

Beyond that, language is also a tool Allah used to propagate Islam. Take the Qur'an for example, which Muslims believe to be inimitable.

17 : 88 Say: "If the whole of mankind and Jinns were to gather together to produce the like of this Qur'an, they could not produce the like thereof, even if they backed up each other with help and support.

Prophets of the past were given special powers as a proof of their prophecy, suitable for the people living at that particular period of time. To the people of Firaun or Pharaoh in Egypt, Allah sent Moses and gave him the power of magic to counter against the people of that period of time who were deep into black magic.

7 : 116-118 Said Moses: "Throw ye (first)." So when they threw, they bewitched the eyes of the people, and struck terror into them: for they showed a great (feat of) magic. We put it into Moses's mind by inspiration: "Throw (now) thy rod":and behold! it swallows up straight away all the falsehoods which they fake! Thus truth was confirmed, and all that they did was made of no effect.

To the Prophet Isa a.s. or Jesus Christ was given the power of healing the blind and lepers, bringing back the dead alive probably because the people of his time had practised medicine and such acts by Nabi Isa would be considered as miraculous.

5 : 111 ...and thou healest those born blind, and the lepers, by My leave. And behold! thou bringest forth the dead by My leave....

And so, the Qur'an was sent down to the people of Arabia through the Prophet Muhammad SAW with a language unparalleled of, because the people at that time were deep into poetry and there were these soothsayers, or kahins who would recite them as part of their rituals. And so the Qur'an is not only the bearer of truth as we Muslims believe, but also a work of Allah of literary importance. Even orientalists have described the language as being 'carefully rhymed' and a Italic'literary device capable of delivering profound effects'.

That's why we need to read the Qur'an over and over again, and try to read between the lines and understand it. And if you have extra time, try learning Arabic because it will be useful to comprehend what you're reading, particularly during your prayers.

There's lot more to language than meets the eye. One day, when i look back at my time in Russia, i will always remember those peculiar moments going to shops and saying, 'I want that, this, that and that,' because i didn't know what those groceries were called in russian. Damn.


snylo said...

salam there, here's just another random blog-hopper who happened to find these interesting posts of yours. i can't agree more how learning language is useful and in my case, i have to study japanese and i have fun learning it. in fact, too much enjoying it, i'm so engrossed that the core science subjects i should excel in struggling to catch up far behind... :P

anyway, nice to read your entries. a fresh insight for me who knows so little of the world

QifA said...

waalaikumussalam Snylo.

So are you like studying Japanese language or are you going to study engineering in Japanese? Yea, i think language is fun, it unfolds a different chapter in life through communication. Make sure your mind is set to not only be able to speak the language, but to master it. I think i am able to do the former, but absolutely far from mastering the russian language.

Hey, we're all in the same boat. Life is a learning process. There's a lot i don't know either.

Good luck then studying Japanese. Arigato kozaimas? for visiting my blog.