There was probably a time when words like Stupid, Idiot, and their Hindi equivalent Ghonchu, were highly derogatory and people would take great offense to them.
Now, their usage has become as commonplace as saying Hola, Kem Cho and Namaste.
Though, I must add here that “Namaste” carries more weight than a simple “Hello.”
‘Nama’ means bow, ‘as’ means I, and ‘te’ means you. Hence, namaste literally means “I bow to you.” In general, it is the equivalent of saying– My soul acknowledges the soul in you and I consider you not any bit superior or inferior to me, but rather as my equal.
Ironically, when two people fold their hand in such a way in India, it translates as — I consider you as my racist counterpart with names depending on which part of the country you’re from (chinki for Northeast Indians, kallu for everyone who is less fair than an albino, and gori for everyone else in between). And when Indian politicians try to emulate that gesture of namaste, it resembles the Congress party logo, with their middle finger pointing directly towards you.
Speaking of the usage of derogatory words, “Fuck” has universal prominence and it still manages to convey a multitude of emotions.
My cursing habit started with my first boss. Irish by descent, he used the F word as often as the head jerk reactions in an Indian saas-bahu soap. Gradually, it became acceptable to hear it as part of normal discourse and I started to curse in a similar fashion when my Excel screen would freeze upon using a formula with more than three parentheses. I even started using the F word to answer generic questions about my life from new folks (*cough* inebriated men at bars).
“So Saksxi (!), what do you really want to be?”
“A fucking writer!”
“Don’t know about the latter, but I can surely help you with the first half (wink).”
This reminds me — trying to find a quality mate at a shitty bar is like trying to find a healthy meal at a fast food joint. You won’t see anything of merit if everyone around you wants to seek a quick bite. And with that, I end my double entendres for the day.
How it is that we have evolved from such general expletives to ones that have become increasingly terrible and might I add, condescending to women?
I wonder if our rampant usage of words like idiot made us ponder one day —
Hmm…I really want to say something rude and scathing to my fellow brethren but ‘stupid’ won’t do anymore.
Let’s see — What is very valuable to a person?
Barring mention of material objects, our integrity matters a great deal which serves as an important foundation to our pride and self-respect.
So how can I destroy someone’s pride and rob them of their integrity?
Fuck them without their consent. Or in other words, rape them.
But with the plethora of rapists around the world, calling someone a rapist could be as common as naming someone Tom, Dick or Asaram Bapu.
So, let’s take the offensive pitch a notch higher.
Well, the sanctity of your mother’s body, your sister’s body and your own body matters a great deal to you. To call someone a rapist of their own mother and sister surely fits the bill.
Hence, we have the present-day evolved motherf***** and its Hindi equivalent, “Madarch**” or “Maach**”
In Delhi, it is not unusual to hear two men greet each other coolly with Bhench**. There is no official Oxford definition for the word yet, but I presume one can define it as –“An XXX activity whereby an XY chromosome carrying species violates the personal space of a XX chromosome carrying species with whom he shares a Rakhi-Bandhan kind of relationship.” It is frightening that our lingo has become so corrupted that such loose terms are gaining prime real estate in dictionaries. Though, there are plenty of old words which are equally baffling. For example, a close friend recently called me a “bluestocking.” Offended that I was called something I would wear on the days I want a break from waxing the epithelial tissue on my albino legs, I asked him to clarify. Look up the word and be amazed.
Given our rate of progress with expletives, I’m sure we will exceed our capabilities in this regard as well. Those emotionally sugar-coated expressions of love in Hallmark cards might actually do better with an F word or two.
We haven’t quite reached the era of using such expletives in important pieces of communication [yet] but if you have any trouble envisioning such an outcome due to excess exposure from the idiot box, I provided an example for your fucking reference. Oops, slip of the tongue. Next time, I’ll be more classy and use foutre instead.
A sample letter in English.
I conclude with another one in Hindi, this time for all my bhai-bhen.