Shalija Patel

“Listen:
my father speaks Urdu,
language of dancing peacocks,
rosewater fountains –
even its curses are beautiful.
He speaks Hindi,
suave and melodic,
earthy Punjabi,
salty-rich as saag paneer,
coastal Swahili laced with Arabic.
He speaks Gujarati,
solid ancestral pride.

Five languages,
five different worlds.
Yet English
shrinks
him
down
before white men
who think their flat cold spiky words
make the only reality.”

-Shalija Patel

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