On a November afternoon almost 5 years ago now, I found myself crying on a bus that was scurrying through the dark on its way to deliver me to the home of my parents, whom I still lived with at the time. A realization that had been creeping up on me for weeks had lunged itself on me suddenly and I now saw the future as I knew it crumble before my eyes.
I’d had a plan. It wasn’t a particularly grand plan but it was my plan and I loved it. The plan was to take 2 terms of English (in addition to the one I’d finished earlier that year), then 3 terms of another subject (probably religion) and then sprinkle some pedagogy on top and go out into the world as a high school teacher with an aim to inspire and encourage. I was going to be Michelle Pfieffer in Dangerous Minds, but without the tragic backstory and the high likelihood of weapons in the classroom. Now that plan, which had made me feel warm and hopeful, was gone. It was a frightening, vertiginous feeling and it had one single, simple cause: I was in love.
But the story doesn’t start there. The story start about half a year earlier, when I decided to take a term of Arabic in-between my first and second term of English. The reason for this was so that my best friend would have time to do her first term of English during that fall, so that we could do our second terms together the next spring. That never happened. The main reason why I chose Arabic and not another of the languages that appealed to me was that said best friend had all the books so I wouldn’t have to buy any. It was supposed to be a fun, one-term detour from my plan, but then I fell in love.
Falling in love with a language is rather a lot like falling in love with a person. You can name a thousand things you like about them but it’s almost always impossible to pinpoint that one thing that made the cup overflow. Maybe it was the way you can fit verb, subject and object into a single word. Maybe it was the root system and how it lets me play detective and guess the meaning of a word I’ve never seen before. Maybe it was how word order seems, at times, almost irrelevant. Maybe it was just how fucking beautiful it is. Whatever it was, I feel hard and fast!
It’s not that I ever thought I was monogamous in my glossophilia. What surprised me was the intensity of the feeling, of the passion, and how it had grown in just half a term. See, I wasn’t crying on the bus because continuing with Arabic would ruin my plans. I was crying because the thought of not continuing with Arabic broke my heart and it made me realize I had to change my plans.
Almost 5 years later, I’m still studying Arabic. I don’t have a BA yet, largely because for the last 3 years I’ve also been working, but I don’t care. If anything, I feel that my slow pace of studying is only letting me get to know the language more intimately and that’s a good thing in my book. I hope, and believe, that this is a love-affair that will last a lifetime.
And now, to end on a lighter note, here is a song by one of my favorite Arabic musicians, Saudia Arabian Alaa Wardi (doing a cover of a Nancy Ajram song):
And just in case you didn’t catch it, A is for Arabic and this is my first installment of the A to Z blogging challenge.