Thursday, March 27, 2014


Dumb charades-
Gestures exchange with my maid
for a friend seeking a helping hand
She checks for a final call; ‘Hindi’? she shows
‘Telugu’ replies the maid -
her being and belonging in a country speaking
thirty languages and over a thousand dialects
She could never go beyond that
My friend nods in disagreement
A corporate executive travelled worldwide
Residing yet refusing to pick the local flavor
She could never grow beyond that


All of three years old
getting to know...
I prompt daughter to say a “Hello”
to the others, each hiding shy
We mothers exchanged a smile

The girls began
a word and two, more came
in language spoken at home

Smiles, giggles, cackles spoke
They listened to learn; learnt to listen
Talking broken to hold sense and substance
or cry in failed attempts, yet
Holding to each other and their conversations
in words parroted often more than not
but heard and attempted to accept

They now converse conveying ‘How are you?’:
Eppadi irukkai? Kem cho? Hegidhiya? Kaise ho?’*

Seamlessly transcending boundaries-

Physical and otherwise exist only for adults
Choosing to shut the doors on themselves!

The first is a bit from the common sight here in India. We often do not want to exit our comfort zone. *The second is a true story being scripted by my daughter whose mother tongue is Tamil with her friends who speak Gujarati, Kannada, Hindi respectively.

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ In Two or More Languages


  1. Bravo! Your words helped me see what it is like to grow up with liquid skill negotiating languages that are the constant and normal music of the environment. I wonder if I could have done that? Would I think in one language or in all of the languages I could speak and all of the cultures I could see? I might "never grow beyond that" and misunderstand even a nod. Is it a yes or no? But no one told those three year olds that they couldn't communicate with each other. So they did. Thank you for this story, beautifully written into a poem.

  2. Yes the children can and not us...sigh...I can so relate to this...TV is another thing...all
    the kids speak Hindi so fluently...wonderful lines...

  3. Lovely poems, Akila. This really brings out the genius in children - where the mind is free, anything is possible!

  4. I think language changes with generations in many cultures and countries..this is a very touching scene brought to life perfectly

  5. Its a challenge to learn another language and I think children have the best chance to trying and assimilating it ~ I speak in own native tongue too but sometimes English is preferred is writing or reading ~ Thanks for the local flavor of your language Akila ~

  6. I love the way you showed through the children's approach to breaking down barriers by being open. As opposed to the adult tale told above. Really good story telling which conveys a good message.

  7. One thing about children, I think. Young ones especially....they play together and use whatever language & somehow the children a kind of universal language of play where words are not all that important.


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