Consequences of Not Knowing My Father Tongue by Sarala Estruch


Poetry by Sarala Estruch



Would he be strange to me as I to him, frowning
as he greets me in the language of my father

Kayo Chingonyi, ‘Kumukanda’



Since my parents did not circle the Guru Granth Sahib

as holy men sing songs of union with God, did not

receive semolina sweets or the blessings of my father’s

relatives, I do not know how to drape a sari or make tea

the Indian way; I speak English and French but no Punjabi

or Hindi, forever confusing my Chachas with my Chachis

and hoping for understanding when I switch to Uncle

and Auntie instead. And when, at my uncle and aunt’s

engagement, I stand beside my uncle – acting in my father’s

place as keeper of rings – I bless this engagement, bless

this new beginning, knowing love carries more weight

than the human tongue.



Chacha – father’s younger brother (Punjabi)

Chachi – father’s younger brother’s wife (Punjabi)