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Friday, October 07, 2011


What is the word that first comes to your mind when asked to spell out a word starting with 'Q'?

Its 'Queen'; right? Yes, that's pretty obvious as since the day we started to learn the alphabets, we were taught that 'Q' is for Queen just as the way 'A' is for Apple. We think it would difficult to teach our youngsters any other word that they are not familiar with. Queen is such a common and gorgeous word with hundreds of years of our history and volumes of our literature replete with stories of great Kings and Queens. We are so fond of the word that nothing, not even more than 60 years of democracy and abolition of kingdoms, can make us believe that there may be other more familiar word for our children.
Or do we do it on a purpose? Is it that we still believe that we have a king and a queen? If not a king, at least a queen and her prince and princess! If not, then we need to find a new word that starts with a 'Q' to teach our children.

People living in the hinterland along the Indo-Myanmar border may actually say that the first word starting with Q that comes to their mind is 'Quinine'. Natural, because they live with malaria which is endemic in the entire Indo-Myanmar border in the Indian side. And they are treated with 'Quinine' even today. But, malaria and quinine may be a difficult word for the children of the mainland.

For some others, still shaken by the recent quake in the northern & north-eastern part of India may find 'quake' an easy word to remember. Quake would not be a difficult word to teach. You may find it very hard to show your children a real life example of queen, but given the geo-physical condition of our sub-continent, you may well get a chance to show them what quake is in reality.

What about qualification? Would it be a word too long? Okey then, what about quality? Oh! I forgot. It is such a rare thing these days! You may not be able to teach your children the meaning of the word with example. Then let us settle for 'quack'. No, not the sound that Donald Duck makes, but the name of the people whom we regularly kill in Assam suspecting them to be capable of doing witchcraft.
No? That would be too gruesome? But, we keep on killing them because of our superstitions! And many people of our country actually get treatment from these people as they find no qualified medical practitioners available in rural areas. Proper health care comes at a price. If you cannot pay, you go to quack! Simple.

Al right! What about 'Queue'? Yes, queue, meaning a line of people, cars etc. waiting for something or to do something. I think that would be a good word to start with as most of us have already lost the habit and forgot the meaning of the word. We are, in fact, more conversant with 'jumping the queue'. Let us, at least, teach our children the meaning of the word and the importance it it in our life so that we can become civilized. Or, are you not sure again that you can show a real life example?

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