By Moutushi Ghoshdeysarkar
“How to say Botticelli? Is it ‘ke’ as in ‘kettle’ or ‘se’ as in ‘sell’?” asked a confused Ranganathan.
“Google it man,” answered Hari who was busy solving a problem.
“Why don’t you oblige him Anurag? Pronunciation is your forte!” Padam said laughing out loud.
“What did you say? Its ‘ge’ so say like you would in ‘page’ not like ‘se’ as in ‘revise’, Padam you are impossible!” Anurag said in an irate voice.
“Tell me how does it matter?” Padam got serious.
“It shows your class my dear good man.” Anurag said with an air of supremacy.
Hari saw the onset of an eminent bull fight between Padam amd Anurag and chipped in, “I have a splitting head ache guys, can we have this rather serious discussion tomorrow please.”
Ranganathan smirked. He knew Hari the pacifier too well.
While in class the four roommates sat in a row, however opinionated they might be, it was hard to find them apart, as if bound by the weak nuclear force.
The English language teacher was reading an excerpt from ‘Hamlet’ by Shakespeare. Anurag was very pleased with their teacher, as his pronunciation was impeccable. Padam on the other hand found it too dramatic and unrealistic. Ranganathan was very confused as it was totally out of his radar. Hari just went with the flow and was neither overwhelmed nor at a loss.
Soon it was time for the annual break and the four went home. As they came back their rooms had been shuffled and they got separated.
“So do you often check the pronunciation for different words?” Jayesh asked.
“Not really, I try to imitate. I hear renowned people speaking often.” Nitin answered.
Anurag was about to say it is pronounced as ‘offen’ without the ‘t’ and not ‘of-ten’ but he just didn’t feel like.
“How do we say ‘schedule’? is it ‘she’ or ‘ske’?” Ranganathan was always confused.
There were no answers as his roommates were not bothered about such silly things.
Padam was reading a novel, engrossed in its story but he could not but ignore overhearing Ishan saying aloud, “On Wednesday we are going for a picnic!”
The emphasis on ‘D’ made Padam uncomfortable, he had been warned by Anurag many time to omit the ‘d’ in Wednesday, ‘its just Wenz-day’ he would say.
But Padam was in no mood to correct Ishan or any body for that matter.
Hari the pacifier was also in the same sorry state as the others. With none to pacify, his life was dull too.
It was just before the winter hols that the four got an opportunity to meet up and sit for a good time together. They shared their experiences and Padam made sure he made mistakes intentionally. Anurag corrected him to his heart’s content also doubtful that the mistakes were somewhat intentional. Ranganathan took out his notebook to clear all his doubts which were eagerly entertained and Hari overwhelmingly fired the discussions to heat up only to pacify them.
After a while, the discussion turned to ‘why were they not able to have the same fun with the other roommates?’
Ranganathan started speaking in his horrid English but none paid attention to it, as what he said made perfect sense, “We are friends first, second comes language and third comes pronunciation. At heart we want to talk. We make big talk out of small things.”
Anurag was ecstatic, “Well said my friend! After all said and done language is to communicate. We may try to perfect it, we may try to master it in order to be called elite, but without friends, without the people we care for and who care for us even the most beautiful language loses its sheen.”
With that they all screamed in unison as if they had rehearsed but in reality it came out spontaneously – “Botticelli”
Though Botticelli would have turned in his grave had he been subjected to hear his name in the weirdest possible pronunciations!