The Language I Love In

Bangladesh Liberation War

When my grandparents crossed the border to India,
My uncle was only four,
Still a toddler suckling at his mother’s breast
Wide-eyed, he would stare at the men in uniform
Who spoke in unfamiliar languages
With serpent-like inflections.
He, who had grown up
Speaking a tongue that smelled like
Green pastures after a heavy downpour.
He, who had always heard words
That sounded like the taste of cool water
On a parched tongue.
He, who had learnt chants
That could lull you to sleep.
On summer nights,
Home, for him, was laid out on his tongue
Sweet, melting in the mouth.

Years later,
My mother would learn to
Love in a language, out of place,
In this city.
She would lay down lush fields
And rivers
For lovers.
The unfamiliar dialect,
Would sit on her tongue
Like a loaded gun.
Curious heads would turn to look
At the family, in the streets,
As they guarded their
With love.

I do not love in their language.
My tongue cannot quite wrap itself around
The length and breadth
Of these strange
I falter and fumble.
I lose my way.
My love seems to have
Lost the power of speech.
I speak in foreign tongues
Imported from cities
I have never been to.
Strange accents impair my sentences
Home had resided, nestled in the tongues
Of my ancestors
Only to evaporate like camphor,
From mine.

But if love had a language,
We would be imprisoning it
With the shackles
Of verbs and adjectives and nouns.
My love transcends all known dialects,
My love breaks the manacles of grammar
My love soars
Like a gull at a sun-drenched beach
My love nestles in lovers’ tongue
And blooms in kisses.
I love without a language
Without reason,
Without words.

My love harks back
To a primeval wordless world,
Wraps its tongue around the length and breadth
Of all languages known to man,
Swallows the power of speech
And survives.

Ananya Ray is a student of English at Jadavpur University, Kolkata.

Featured image credit: 愚木混株 Cdd20/ Pixabay