tongues (poem)

One thick braid slicked back,
That’s how my mother arrived in this country.
Baggy Kameez hanging over her.
A scarf draped loosely over her head,
With the tail floating off her shoulder.
She brought the smell of Kashmir with her,
She spoke only in its numerous tongues,
And she,
she smiled sweeter than its tea.
That’s how she arrived to this country.
Scared and young,
Not familiar with the English tongue.
She is the mother of British children,
Some who lace their lips with mother’s verse,
And some who could not learn.
She brought Kashmir with her, my mother did, and even if I shall never go back –
She raised it inside me.
Bolo. I say to my brothers. Bolo.
Speak.
Speak your mother tongue with grace,
Do not take pride in speaking only the language of the colonisers.
Bolo. – Shazmeen خالد

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