#FreedomtoRead2020: Bharti Menghani on her efforts to revitalize her mother tongue by creating a digital library in Sindhi

Posted by Remya Padmadas on February 26, 2020

Bharti Menghani is a translator and storyteller, who loves creating storybooks in her mother tongue, Sindhi. Bharti aims to help revitalise the language by contributing to literature in Sindhi. As part of the Freedom To Read 2020 campaign, she has created a digital library of 50 storybooks in Sindhi. 

In this email interview, Bharti writes about her love for her mother tongue and the importance of creating children's books in Sindhi.

Could you tell us a bit about yourself, your interests and your work?

I am an HR professional working in a corporate.

Reading stories has always been my passion. I have grown up reading and discussing stories with my mother, and I feel that stories have shaped my personality as they have always acted as a torchbearer for me, showing me how to face real life issues. I love to read children's stories, motivational books, spiritual stories, folk tales and stories from the Panchtantra.

We would love to learn about your personal relationship with Sindhi - do tell us about it.

Sindhi is my mother tongue. I grew up speaking and reading in Sindhi. As I did my schooling from a school where Sindhi was a compulsory subject, I started writing in Sindhi from grade 4 and simply loved it.

How did you come across StoryWeaver and the Freedom to Read campaign?

In 2016, I did a course in storytelling from a renowned institute. Most of my batchmates were teachers and I came to know about Pratham Books' Storyweaver through them. When I visited the website, I was amazed to see the vast repository of storybooks in a variety of languages and more importantly, created with the noble cause of providing reading material to children as their basic right. I followed StoryWeaver on social media and kept receiving notifications from time to time. Though one such notification, I came to know about International Mother Language Day and the Freedom to Read campaign.

Bharti has translated 50 storybooks into Sindhi on StoryWeaver

Why do you think is it important to have children’s books in Sindhi?

In 1967, Sindhi was added to the constitution, as an official language of the Republic of India. However, like many other regional languages today, Sindhi is facing the danger of becoming extinct.

There are two sets of children in the Sindhi community. One – those who have the means to afford books and other reading material in Sindhi, but do not do so, as their parents want them to learn to read and write in English. For these children, their interaction with the Sindhi language only comes from speaking it at home. The second set comprises those children who speak in Sindhi, but being from an economically weaker background, they are unable to buy Sindhi books for reading. Hence, it is important to have children's books in Sindhi to cater to the needs of both the sections. I feel that Storyweaver is one such platform which fulfills this criteria.

Of the 50 storybooks that you translated, which story would be your favourite and why?

Gully Jo Gazab Jo Pitaro would definitely be my favourite. This book is about an intelligent child who is passionate about helping and solving everybody’s problem instantly, and for this he keep collecting things - which could have gone into the waste - and makes the best use of them to help anyone in need.

What are some of your favourite books from childhood? Is there any memorable reading moment that you would like to share?

My favourite book from childhood is a storybook called “Hansti Duniya”. It is children's book that is published every month by the Nirankari Mission and features stories, poetry, and sections on science facts, quizzes, puzzles, mythology, and so on.

Another favourite from childhood is Chacha Chaudhry and the Panchtantra tales.

What is your favourite word / phrase / quote in Sindhi? 

Here's a poem about my love for my mother tongue:

सिंधी भाषा  प्यारी भाषा,
हर भाषा खां न्यारी भाषा,
प्यार अमड़ि जो जंहिंमें पातुम,
अहिड़े थदड़नि ठारी भाषा,

मिठड़ी ॿोली ऐं लफ़्ज़ मिठा,
आहे भाॻनि  वारी भाषा,
अखरनि में वडी॒ सभिन खां,
सिंधियत जी अवतारी भाषा,

कन्हैया आहूजा,हास्य ,व्यंग्य कवि, बिलासपुर


You can read all the storybooks translated by Bharti Menghani here.

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