Imagine the person or the people you want to speak Sinhala with in front of you.
Now picture that priceless shocked look the first time you catch them off-guard with a Sinhala line that came totally naturally to you. You hide your smile and pretend like everything is normal and then hit them with another line, and another, until their look of disbelief turns into one of pure admiration. You’re laughing; they’re beaming with pride. Just like how you envisioned it while you were planning this surprise moment all along.
They are touched beyond words that you made the effort to learn their language. You wanted to make them happy and proud and also show them how important they are to you and that’s exactly what you’ve done. You’re making that deeper connection you’ve been wanting to.
Time goes by and they’ve eventually gotten over their shock...
...yet, they proudly tell others about how brilliant you are with languages and how you’ve picked up Sinhala like a natural. At the same time, they even joke about how they’ll have to be watchful about what they say around you since they can no longer use Sinhala as their “secret language”.
Meeting up with them has a whole new dynamic now. Earlier, you’d pick up a one or two familiar words here and there but now you’re understanding EVERYTHING everyone is saying. Once in a while you’ll hear a new word but the context of the sentence instantly gives you a clue of what that word meant.
You no longer need your friends to translate what’s being discussed. The conversation doesn’t need to comes to a screeching halt just because the “outsider” has to be brought up to speed again. You don’t fake smile anymore pretending to understand the joke because, guess what, you actually get the joke and you’re finally getting the “Sri Lankan sense of humor”.
You even contribute to these chats. You’re no more that person sitting quietly in the corner. Instead, you speak every word with confidence. Sure, you know you still have a slight accent but you know without a shadow of doubt how a local would say it and you know that your pronunciation is not that far from it. You know you’re stressing the right syllables and you’re speaking grammatically correct Sinhala. You’ve gotten over your fear of sounding silly and being laughed at.
By now most of the people you interact with have gotten used to hearing you speak Sinhala and they respond to you like how they would among themselves. They’ve accepted you as one of them now. Just like you wanted.
You have within you a treasure chest of words and phrases for typical situations. Could be while you’re out shopping, or you’re visiting someone at home, or you’re at a restaurant, it doesn’t matter. You’ve got words & phrases that flow effortlessly for each of these settings.
And most importantly, you’re feeling very proud of yourself for what you’ve achieved.
You started out out by wanting to prove to them that you can learn Sinhala but in the end you also ended up proving it to yourself. This language that is so beautiful, yet so different in sound and structure to your own which seemed daunting and alien at first.
You learned it like the champion that you had forgotten you were.