My Mother Does Not Know Urdu

On the evening before my exam
Mother asks, touching my forehead,
“Are you okay?”
I reply instinctively, “Halkī sī tabiyat kharāb hai.”
She does not know Urdu,
But she understands.

On the day of my cousin’s wedding
Father wears a new suit
On the rare occasion, I laud his clothing,
Aapka suit behtariin lag raha hai.”
He does not know Urdu,
But he understands.

When I see my sister controlling a smile
As she excitedly types her message,
I mock her and start singing,
Aise chale jab hawā ishq huā hii huā”
She does not know Urdu,
But she understands.

When my partner pensively asks me
What comforts you the most?
The romantic in me smirks and I say,
Tumhari zulf ke saayeiñ meiñ hona”
She does not know Urdu,
But she understands.

In this not knowing but understanding
I realise that what my loved ones know
Is that they were always told
that “this is not ours, it’s theirs”.
And when that person –
Yes! That hate monger with a mic,
who understands but does not know,
spews hate
hate becomes the extension of
“It’s not ours, it’s theirs”.

How do I tell them
that there is no other in the language
that it is language which
dissolves us and them
and creates a category called
our very own.

Amritesh Mishra is a student at Campus Law Centre, DU.

Featured image: Amr.Malik/Flickr