‘Mother tongue’ by Paras Abbasi

You know how your mother tongue separates you?

In answering your phone, sitting between your friends

when your brother asks when to pick you up; 

in the surprising tone of your colleague who tells you how

your accent is different from those whose language you call as your own. 

I carry my language in surprise of people’s faces and sometimes in my own,

when I recognize a native smile,

a nod, a curse word intended as a joke

and in the folds of long forgotten songs.

Yesterday my friends and I sang Sindhi festive songs at a superstore in low voices

while we were in the spice section and giggled

at why these songs never made sense and yet we knew them all. 

Sometimes languages aren’t meant to voice opinions, 

they’re intended to connect dots,

of people, maps, rivers; 

draw lines of love between strangers. 

I carry my mother tongue both as a burden and as a privilege, 

of knowing all those sounds and words that emanate feelings and emotions

that are not known in other languages. 

And yet, 

sometimes words are never enough, 

it’s the association of language that suffices.

Poet’s Bio: Paras Abbasi is a poet and a short story writer. Her work has been published in Confluence magazine UK, East Lit Journal and local news websites in Pakistan. Paras lives in Karachi and can be reached at ofconversations.wordpress.com and on instagram: @ofcoffeeconversations.

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