My Hindi-Medium Father

Social Commentary

My Hindi-Medium Father

Illustration: Sushant Ahire


n the film Hindi Medium there’s a monologue in clipped English. Doting parents Irrfan Khan and Saba Qamar nod politely, not comprehending a word of what’s going on. Then the two burst into applause at the alien sounds of a language they don’t know, but know will be their daughter Pia’s ticket to a “hi-fi” class. About 20 years ago, I was little Pia.

When I was five, my parents bundled me on to their rickety second-hand Bajaj scooter and took me to a first-class English-medium convent school, replete with German nuns, Western classical music lessons dispensed through a grand piano, and children who would address each other as “buddy”. I remember feeling out of place and tugging at my tightly buttoned collar – when I looked up and saw that my father was doing the same thing.