My L’s and R’s…..This Tongue of Mine

(Photo Courtesy)
By Tabitha Makumi,
It so happens that you meant to say play but you end up saying pray. A giggle here. A giggle there. A nervous chuckle from you. Maybe you even pretend that you indeed meant pray. But deep down though, you know your tongue failed you as it has on several occasions.

Talk of the damnation of “where we come from” or as lots of folks like to say, “The kind of schools you went to.”  Which begs the question, were it not for what some would call shitty schools, would we be able to curl up the tongue just the ‘right’ way? Whatever the dickens that means.

Let’s just assume that one grammar teacher in Nyamanduma primary is to blame for all of it. You would instead be on cloud nine saying ‘wora’ (water) in place of ‘wota.’ Plus let’s not forget of how you pronounce words such as ‘twelve’ and ‘dictionary’ and how people exchange glances because who the heck says “Twelof” in 2016?!
See how that easy was? To blame something on someone else. “That teacher/school messed me up….” we often defend our tongue failures. It’s like when someone totally messes up their life and they are trying to figure out where and when the rain started beating them. They blame their parents. Either they were not hugged enough or told “We love you son,” or “you are beautiful my daughter…” (I read somewhere that such people end up doing gory things to themselves and to others)

But I digress. High School didn’t help either. With a name like Kariandusi? Pah-lease. No way in Hades your tongue would curl up at a waiter at Java and say, “I’l just have some still ‘wora’ please” He just might lift his eyebrows with a devious smile tagged on his lips and say “Huyo nu mnyama gani boss?”

But is it ever that serious though? Who in the world cares if you mess up your L’s and R’s every now and then?  Life still goes on if you have a twang or not.

“ But it helps if you are articulate,” chimes Philip, a PR chap who believes your word is shit if you don’t sound like one of those Capital FM damsels or straight out of BET.  Nah meen?

“Kizungu ilikuja na meli,” chimes Muthusi, an IT guru who couldn’t give a shit about diction. Doesn’t care if he says play instead of prey as long as he knows what he intended to say. And life is dandy for Muthusi.

But sometimes it hits you though. Sometimes you switch on your TV in the morning to watch AM Live and there’s a panel going on about corruption (it’s always about corruption) Intelligent chaps talking about the ills of our society. You listen. You are intrigued. Why are they not in charge of some ministry…you wonder. But there’s this one guy. Seated in the middle. He doesn’t talk as much as the others. But then he gets his chance. You stop whatever you were doing, your bagel stops mid-air.

Where did the twang go? Why are the other panelists smiling? Why is the host hurrying him to finish up? He doesn’t even finish sounding his thoughts because let’s face it, ‘aint nobody got time’ for his backward accent. And then you realize you are embarrassed for him and you kick yourself for it. Or maybe you laugh it off and go on to start your day.

At the end of the day. They are just words and shouldn’t define us. On that note, imma need a glass of “wora.”