The Language that Escapes Me by Spatika Jayaram


Art by Ida Lorentzen

On an Indian girl’s take on adapting to the variety in the country


When I left for college, I remember not mother not father but,

the swings cry because there was no one left to hold,

Their words passing by a stranger’s ear,

killed by passing winds, I don’t know if they reach.

I left a language unknown to a land of words and tongue

speaking old, and young, with oh, so many spices mixed

in their ways, a dialect was no longer thrown as netting

across a pavilion of a country, the curly haired blokes from

seaward parts spoke Malayalam and

I learned not to confuse it with Tamil

the hard way.

I missed those stays that the creaking swing held

for me, I was back to knowing a language of none,

ears filling with large intonations and little sense.

The language that escapes me in the brown girl’s heart,

tries to listen in and hear others,

pulls me apart between circles of whispers.

Hindi poetry, kannada jokes, tamil metaphors, English grammar

flew past

My brain stewing in their wake, like odors that waft in

after I just ate.

The language that escapes me, wants me to hold it like

the swing held me, but it is slippery,

for my feet with cobwebs beneath, because that

is all I have learned to stare at, when others speak.



Spatika is a fourth year student at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Mohali, pursuing an Integrated Master's in biology, who also likes to experiment in writing and poetry. Her writings have been published in Sublunary Review, Feminism in India, Live Wire, Brown Girl Magazine  andThe New Verse News. You can follow her on Instagram here.