Mother tongue

Our mothers saw
that a future brighter than theirs
lay before us.

So they cut off their tongues,
holding babies under their breast
and breathing in an air of
New Beginnings.

They sensed that their words
in our mouths
would brand us as different.
But they were blinded to the loss
that we would feel
in words left unspoken.
Languages packaged up.
Sealed away
and stored in attics.
Collecting Dust.

Sometimes her syllables would
slip
down
stairwells.
In her anger.
In her frenzy.
In her yearning for home.

Still her vintage language
was rendered useless
in our domain.
No space for it in this home.
Only walls built up against
this futile hand-me-down.
Far less useful
than the apparel of our older siblings.
Far less practical
than the skills of
building a better life.

Not all mothers
will choose to
cut off their tongues.
Still it is important
to understand
why some do.
Some mothers do not realise
the value of their words
Some are taught to believe
that they have none.

My mother speaks
five languages,
and I wish to walk
at least halfway
the length
of her linguistic pathway.
The compilation of
consonants and vowels
that roll off her tongue.
Now her bloodline
haemorrhages in my hands.
As I grasp
at the parts of her
she cut off for us.

I tell her
Ingat at the door.
As the world cries Putang ina mo!
I tell her
Mahal kita, salamat po.
I tell her
that her tongue
is my tongue also
and she may speak it
AS LOUDLY
or as quietly
as she so wishes.
And that regardless of
what she chooses,
O gino ako,
O gino ako,
I hear her.

 

Charlotte Laurasia Raymond
Charlotte Laurasia Raymond is learning that there is no set way to be a woman of colour. Graced with Filipino, Sri Lankan roots, Charlotte seeks to understand the experience of people who have never felt ‘ethnic enough’. She uses her writing to explore her experience as a first-generation immigrant and the layers of her life that interweave into her identity.

About Author

Charlotte Laurasia Raymond is learning that there is no set way to be a woman of colour. Graced with Filipino, Sri Lankan roots, Charlotte seeks to understand the experience of people who have never felt ‘ethnic enough’. She uses her writing to explore her experience as a first-generation immigrant and the layers of her life that interweave into her identity.

Comments are closed.