The Family’s Tongue

You are in elementary school,

you ask your mother

to speak the language

of your people,

of her mother,

to you.

She refuses.


You are on break,

a holiday in your mother’s

family’s country.

You swim and guide

your cousins,

as you are the oldest.

Your mother talks to

their parents

and mocks

the grammar

of the teacher who tried

to teach you your family’s language.

You feel shame.


You try to argue

to get in a class

that would teach you

the language of your family,

your head teacher

says it won’t fit

with your schedule.


The familial language teacher

asks why your aren’t

in her class.

You try to practice


but your mother

mocks your pronunciation,

says you sound like her mother,

won’t help you.

You give up for a while.

You learn a another


nobody else


This way,

they can’t mock you.


Back in your mother’s

family’s country,

your cousins

don’t understand

when you try (again, again, again),

mock it,

say you aren’t a real

member of their country

and are undeserving

of your citizenship.

You cry,

And your little cousins

are very wary of you.

But you still return and come back.


The country itself

is beautiful,

so many languages

(including the maternal tongue)

so many people.

Alone here,

you feel calm,


but then when

you try

to communicate

your accent

and lack of understanding

shatters all.


When she hears of this,

your mother asks why you

can’t/haven’t tried/going to try

to speak the language.

She denies her shared past

in this matter.


You think,

in University,

you might try

to learn

another one

of your country’s languages,

but not,

the familial tongue.

It is ugly

and without it,


are ugly.

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