It was the third month of academic year. Students began to know each other more and made new friends. Days were moving smoothly but not so much for Tashi, Phuntsho and Bhim, so to say. They have become the closest of friends in the campus and were always seen glued together.
Their fate proved even kinder when they were allotted the same room in the hostel. With the closeness of their friendship, there were endless debates and arguments almost everyday. They would argue, try to prove their point and convince each other which was very difficult.
But such arguments and fights made their bond even stronger. If they didn’t argue for some days, they had a feeling that someone among them was missing. However heated arguments they would have, they always found ways to settle them and something to laugh about.
One day they were walking towards the hostel after class hours were over. On the way, Phuntsho remarked, “You know, Bhim? Sharchops say aye sum (three of us) irrespective of the number of people they are referring to. Hell. Always aye sum!”
Bhim replied, ” Oh, yeah. But Tashi doesn’t say the same may be. Since it’s only three of us, he is right in saying aye sum,” and smiled sarcastically.
Tashi frowned and interrupted, “Why do you have to bother about my language? You guys are always like that. Making fun of me all the time!” He started to increase his pace and walking ahead of them.
Why only me? I can find some faults with them too, Tashi thought. Then he turned back and said, “Hey, guys. Do you know that I also find so many things in you worth making fun of?”
Phuntsho replied, “Are you serious? We don’t mind. Share us if you got any.”
“You are from Zhemgang, right? You, Khengpas, say ‘sa’ for ‘tsa’, ‘shung’ for ‘zhung’ and ‘shu’ for ‘chhu’. If you say Druk Zhung (Government of Bhutan), you pronounce it as ‘Druk Shung’.”
“I agree with you, Tashi. But do you have anything in mind about me? I am sure you don’t,” said Bhim and laughed.
“Oh smart Bhim, I am afraid you are wrong. You are not that bad either. You know? You say ‘janday’ for ‘zanday’ and ‘sa’ for ‘sha’. What do you say now?
Bhim kept silent.
This became a new topic of their regular arguments. One of them would be always trying to find some faults with language, accents or pronunciation of another. Some times they would go so far so that they will be close to blows. But a minute later, they would be playing and laughing around.
They settled in their room for the night after dinner. Bhim cleared his throat to which Tashi commented, “Sung so (sho) la, Bhim – meaning please go on, Bhim.” He grinned and said, “Tashi and Phuntsho, listen to me. Let us settle this – the argument over our language and pronunciation, I mean. Do you have any idea to put an end to it?”
Tashi and Phuntsho looked at each other and shook their heads. “If you have one, tell us. We might agree,” said Phuntsho.
“All right then. I have been thinking about one. None of us will speak our mother tongue when we are together. We will use Dzongkha for conversation from now on.”
Tashi replied, “But how is it going to solve the the cause of our argument?”
“See, Dzongkha is a second language for all of us. Therefore, though we will keep pronouncing some of the words same way, which is not correct, the one who makes the wrong pronunciation will have an excuse that he is using a second language.”
“You are right,” said Tashi. “You will keep saying ‘sa‘ for ‘sha’,” he added. “And Phuntsho will always say ‘sa’ for ‘tsa’. I have mix up ‘lha’ and ‘la’ in Dzongkha.”
“Moreover, Dzongkha is our National Langauge,” added Phuntsho which both of friends appreciated.
“Fine. Deal,” agreed Bhim and Phuntsho. “One last time – aye sum, shung and sa, let us write our home works,” said Tashi and started to take out books from the school bag.