Some people boast of being bilingual or trilingual. I'm a far more evolved version; I'm HEXALINGUAL ! Let's actually take stock, shall we?
I'm fluent in ENGLISH, thanks to 14 years of Catholic school. I'm passably good at Hindi, also thanks to the same Catholic school. I'm fluent in MARATHI, a feat I owe to the four and a half years I spent studying veterinary science in a college situated in a No-Man's-Land between Pune and Satara, where one either lived long enough to see oneself change into a native Marathi speaker or died trying!
As a BENGALI by birth, I’m a little ashamed to admit I have only an OK-ish grasp of the language and having taken it as an optional subject in Junior College, I also have a decent enough grasp of GERMAN.
But MOST IMPORTANT of them all; I am extremely proficient in a language that isn't even considered a language by most people, except those that speak it too.
I am of course, talking about the GARBLED GARBAGE or GAGA that we coo at a cute animal. While I understand that the sight of anything remotely adorable or enticing, not just animals, evicts this kind of reaction from people, it is truly special to hear an animal lover use this method of communication!
If one were to think about it, it’s so ODD! An animal doesn't understand anything you're saying to it. I can't imagine ever discussing the Mars Rover or America under Trump with a dog, but I do realize that my tone of speaking resonates with an animal. BABY TALK is just something that overcomes me whenever I see any animal! The smaller it is, or the more it returns my affection, THE MORE NONSENSICAL THINGS MY MOUTH SEEMS TO SPOUT!
A favorite undertaking of all the employees at RESQCT is to take the medical history of an animal, turn it into a question, and REPEATEDLY ask if that truly is what happened to them!
"Awwle. Mean car driver broke your leg? Like this happen?"
"Bigger doggie bite your bum? Awwle. Like this happen?"
"Kitty not eating? Kitty’s tummy aching? Like this happen?"
"Awwle. Our bone break? Like this happen?"
Note the "like this happen". These three words, grammatically atrocious as they are, form the backbone of every treatment at RESQCT. Remember, we deal with patients who can't tell us what ails them and why. Most of them CAN’T UNDERSTAND and/or resent being caught and struggle to escape. TALKING TO THEM, keeping them distracted, REASSURES them that NO HARM is MEANT. Friendships with wary animals get forged faster, cries of pain magically melt away into licks, purrs or nudges for attention.
BABY TALK is often looked down or frowned upon by people who don't like animals or at least, not in the capacity that we do. Those are the ones who ask me regularly; WHY MUST I BE LIKE THIS? But then I remember the hundreds of cheery eyes and bushy tails that radiate happiness every time I coo at them and ask them if they missed me. SURELY THAT IS WORTH SOME PEOPLE THINKNG YOU’RE A BIT TOUCHED IN THE HEAD!
Written by - Jr. Veterinarian Indrakshi Banerji - RESQCT