You may call it a blend of chalk and cheese. But, it's a fact that an eighty-year-old Punjabi is learning Malayalam, and that too with great zeal.
Trilochan Singh, who was born in Lahore, shifted to Delhi after the Partition of 1947 He stays in the east Delhi colony of Mayur Vihar in the national capital.
Singh attends Malayalam classes to hone his knowledge of the south Indian language and has earned grades.
“Enik Malayalam ishtamaan,” he says, and that too very proudly. It means “I love Malayalam.”
His love for Malayalam is indeed genuine. For a peep into his personal room shows Malayalam books strewn around. Not only books, there are a number of exercise books which prove that he takes his lessons seriously and does not pay just lip service.
Singh grabbed the opportunity of learning the difficult language when the Malayalam Mission, a 10-year-long course, was flagged off in Delhi for the Malayali diaspora. It got the approval from the Kerala government in 2005.
Singh is among the three students who do not have a Malayali background. The other two are Nepali siblings Hemant and Prem Thapa.
A technician at the Central Public Works Department, his love for the language did not grow post-retirement, Singh says and recalls that he was fascinated by Tamil initially and later Malayalam through a friend from Kerala.
When he visited Kozhikode to attend a wedding way back in 1998, his love for Malayalam started. Once back in the national capital, he purchased Malayalam books to learn the basics.
Then, it was in 2017 that his formal Malayalam schooling commenced. Today, he can write essays in Malayalam. Singh proudly displays his ‘Certificate of Merit’ with a C grade in the beginner’s course.