THE LANGUAGE I BREATHE IN

ILINA SINHA



Once upon a time…
Summer breaks meant dusty village roads, home,
golden beetles and fireflies that slipped into our bedroom at night.

Once, there lived little sparrows on our roof.
Before the roof cemented and strictly meant
‘no space for nests’.

I write them letters.

‘Dear little sparrow,

You left unnoticed.
I wonder if you still remember home.
if ‘home’ means something more than your fore-fathers’ distant memory.

Home isn’t always a place.
Sometimes, it is that 2-sec silence to the question
“So, where do you come from?”

Sometimes, home has no roof,
but a hand to hold on to.

Such fragile is our existence, dear sparrow,
we are dew drops on a blade of grass.
Endangered.
Endangered.
Extinct.’

My letters to the sparrows are more soliloquy than solace,
written in an endangered language to an endangered species.
We all need a place to belong.

Google says- ‘A language dies every 14 days.
A species is wiped away every 9.6 minutes.’

We rarely realise that a species is the biological equivalent of the entire human race.
History, Art, Mozart, Networking, Information
lost without a trace.
Evaporated.
Like a dew drop under the sun.

That. Is. Extinct.

When the crusade came,
the Phoenicians, who gifted us our first alphabets,
fled inside a dead volcano for life.

When my forefathers heard gunshots,
they fled beyond valleys and hills…
blood on feet, sweat on forehead,
and the surviving words of my dying language on their tongue.

They planted the family tree on this land - named it ‘home’
No soil, dying roots.
Home, isn’t always a place.
Sometimes there is no roof, but a hand to hold on to.

The last time I visited home,
the horizons shrank back in my body.
There was no raindrop.
No sparrow
Not a single voice echoed in my mother tongue.

Only a prelude to our eventual insignificance.

My freezing hands reached out for the rusted trunk.
Pulled out the old stethoscope,
letters, worn out photographs.

I placed the stethoscope on my heartbeat.
Fingertips on pulse
and heard the chorus of blood-rush:
‘home, home, home.’

This work has been published in Beetle Magazine's July 2020 Issue

Illustration by Dhanashree Pimputkar


1 comment

  • Just amazing!! I have No words to explain.
    A home where we can found ourselves..

    I love most..
    Thanks miss Ilina for this poem.

    Shravan singh

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