English is not my first language.

But I grew up at a time where English was considered the only way to be respected, acknowledged, or heard.

Even though my parents worked really hard to send us to a lovely English medium school, it didn’t help me get better at the language.

What helped, as luck would have it, was having neighbours whose daughters became my best friends at a young age.

Their first language was Konkani.
So the only common language for us was English.

Everyday, speaking to them in English gave me the training that I couldn’t have ever afforded.
It set me up foundationally.

Public speaking then honed the skill.

But I still think in and speak Hindi as my first language.
It’s my comfort language.
My mind language.

Today, I see India very differently.

Yes, English still remains the dominant business and administrative language.
But there is acceptance, learning, and growth through your mother tongue.

When I meet people who speak English only to operate with the external world, I remind myself where I have come from.

Your command over English is NOT equal to your strength in communication.