by Carmel Rawhani

“Say something” they say- say something in your native tongue – put it on display and parade it round – that which waters your roots deep in the ground

“Say something”- they say- expecting something dark and exotic- with excitement glistening in their wide eyes- licking their lips in anticipation as they hear me pronounce the word ‘cat’- thinking I have just unlocked the mysteries of the universe

“Say something”- they say- aggressively at times- angry when I do not recite poetry in my mother tongue and teach them how to proclaim love to girls like me who they think will melt at the sound of their voices breaking our language into jagged pieces that hurt our ears and leave us sick

“Say something”- they say- barely stifling their laughter at words they have never heard before, whose beauty they will never  comprehend- no, keep talking they will say- when I abruptly end

“Say something”- they say- not knowing how badly I wish my mother tongue was all I spoke so that I could free the yoke that is this foreign language- strange and coarse, leaving a bitter wake every  time I… say something.

Photo credit: Marcelo Gerpe

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