Wednesday, April 26, 2017

MY LOST LANGUAGE by Anna Sujatha Mathai

I search for my lost syllables
in the green grass of the paddy fields.
My lost language, Malayalam,
Has dropped like a gold wedding band,
Into the stream below,
A lost band lying
In the flowing water,
Amid the pebbles deep in the water.
As I search, I hear my grandmother's voice
Speak from the bed under the attic stairs.
How many nights I lay with her
Sharing the pain and the sorrows of her life.
The smell of whole mangoes pickled in brine
Emanates from the earthen bharanis lining the wall
Vying with the smell of jasmine
Coming in through the open window.
Grandmother smells of aromatic oils
Meant to ease her pains.
In the dark night outside, snakes shed their skin.
I hug her tight, as she tells me
In the music of that lost language
About her sad childhood,
The cruel stepmother, the hunger, the humiliation,
The struggle to learn a little English,
All in Malayalam, which opens windows.
On the day of her death she appears to me in a dream.
Clear bells ring, piercing my consciousness.
Molle, you know I lived a sad life,
But can you feel it now, the joy?
She holds out the lost band to me --
English and Malayalam bound together in gold.
My lost language shines in the palm of my hand,
Forming intimate syllables.
Rediscovering lost memories,
A language that trembles in my deepest sleep.
Copyright. Anna Sujatha Mathai.
(First pub. in MOTHER'S VEENA. 2013.)

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