Published: 05th December 2019
Meet Aleena MH, the Trivandrum high-schooler who has award-winning Sanskrit elocution
Aleena MH has always had a flair for languages and has proved it at the Revenue District Youth Festival competition with winning the prize for her flawless Sanskrit elocution
The students of Cotton Hill Government Higher Secondary School for Girls in Thiruvananthapuram are decorating their classrooms for their upcoming Christmas celebrations. Among them is Aleena MH, a Class XII student from Thiruvananthapuram who won the first prize in the Revenue District Youth Festival's Sanskrit Elocution Competition and Grade A in Arabic Poetry Recitation. Her story brings in a refreshing perspective at a time when students of Banaras Hindu University has been protesting the appointment of a Muslim assistant professor to teach Sanskrit.
For Aleena, language is a celebration of what a person is and not about religion or culture in any way. The daughter of Mohamed Haneefa and Subaida N K, she has always been ambitious when it comes to academics and religion is the last barrier that she expects to come her way. She says, "I started studying Sanskrit since I was in the 5th standard. Most Malayalam words are derived from Sanskrit, so it was easy for me to grasp it. I liked the idea of competing for the elocution in Sanskrit because you cannot learn anything by heart, you need to be able to come up with something on the spot. And I liked the challenge."
Aleena had attended a Madrassa since she was in the fourth standard. It was here that she studied Arabic. She also had the help of her mother, who has an MA in Arabic who was quite well-versed in the language to teach her. About the incident in BHU she says, "Language is not about religion. People should learn and speak the languages that they have a flair and interest for. It is as simple and beautiful as that. It's ridiculous that so many people are so worked up about a Muslim teaching Sanskrit or a Hindu teaching Arabic. It is not necessary to bring so much negativity or pride into it."
Friends, family and teachers alike are so proud of Aleena's norm-defying achievements, that they wonder why she hasn't attempted it before. She has discovered that such great performances come with greater responsibilities, saying, "Now everyone wants to know what I'll be doing next! I have always wanted to enter the civil services, so I've already began preparing for the entrance exams. I want to study somewhere outside of Kerala and get some more exposure. As for my parents, they have always known that I will choose my path for myself and they've supported me throughout."