I have funny associations with the languages I do or do not know.
When I think of Urdu - I think ... velvet takhts, off-white ghararas, mushairas, the balancing of ghazals, the depths and articulate expression of beauty and pathos.
When I think of Punjabi - I think ... a deep mellow sweetness that touches the heartstrings, sufi poets, roti, green fields, a pleasant evening around family and friends and a big platter of food.
And of course. My fiance.
When I think of French ... I think of complicated desserts, I think of cute-cum-funny gurgling noises at the bottom of the throat, hoop skirts, the Eiffel Tower, Rousseau and a fantasy of speaking it in a very fast pace.
When I think of Arabic ... I think divinity, I think of an inexplicable, irrationally pacifying sense of relief, morning prayers, late night azkaar, the tilawat of Sudais and the breaking of fast in Medina.
And of course. My fiance. Don't ask why.
When I think of Mexican, I think of sombreros and whats-his-name Bugs Bunny cartoon guy that sells hot tamalis. Spanish reminds me of conquests, Italian of pasta and pizza, Japanese of inedibles, Chinese of more food and hordes of men and women on bicycles, Hebrew of a time that is buried under big books of history, Sanskrit of cultural legends and Persian of Ghalib and Mir and what must their tombstones have inscribed upon them.
People find it odd that I dream in English. That I curse in English and get angry in English. When I was in fourth grade a couple of mean boys in class called me a 'kafir' because I yelled at them in English. It would be much after Ali's birth that I would realize that banter means something very different for boys.
Language to me has always been a comfort zone. I like to get lost in it when I'm day-dreaming. Seriously. I don't know what 16-year-old girls dreamt about before they went to sleep but my favorite activity before sleeping was to make word-chains in my Language Master and make sentences out of every new word and a story out of those sentences.
And what do you know. That reminds me of my fiance too ...