I catch myself speaking more Hindi than Tamil I catch myself speaking more English than Tamil I set an alarm clock inside my brain that says Speak Tamil I forget the Tamil word for उलझन which is the Hindi word for confusion I draw a blank in Tamil people come up to me and ask me to say something in Tamil and I only stare back in the English word for उलझन a translating tool flips my mother tongue around in its algorithms and tells me that the Tamil word for उलझन is குழப்பம் I try to sink my teeth into it and never forget it again as I slap my forehead what if I had three eyes inside each eyeball like three different tongues wrapping the back of my mouth my mother calls me in Tamil and I answer in Hindi my father shouts for me in Hindi and I screech back in Tamil a white girl asks me what I’m up to and my answer is chaos (English) my babble is a performative art that makes these white Delhi boys chuckle with delight as I scramble to hide under the canopy of the language imprinted on the back of my mother’s palms my family and I guard ourselves in a medieval coat of arms named Tamil in the marketplace it all falls off and we’re stranded in our apartment with no place to call our one and only abode my grandmother buries our history in a pile of rasam rice and we are to swallow it all for dinner
Anjali Bhavan is a 19-year-old engineering undergrad. Her work has appeared in The Speaking Tree (a weekend supplement of The Times of India), Esthesia Magazine, Coldnoon International, Allegro Poetry Review and Span Magazine. Her short story was once published in A Twist in the Tale, an anthology of short stories by Max Life Insurance. She currently writes on her blog and for The Wordsmiths, a little, eclectic group of writers who like to talk about anything and everything – particularly art and cinema.