Our names will never roll around their tongues,
With the delicacy and finesse,
Of the mothers who named us.
After 14 hours of birth,
Sweaty, sticky, spicy, sweet, tangy names with stories and secrets.
Our names in foreign mouths
Are like spices with unexpected
Sharp thorny flavours,
Spat out in discomfort,
Pronounced with pain,
And anglicised quickly like a cool drink of water.
So that Dureshawar becomes Rey,
And my own name
In my mouth
Feels like a dry, flavourless biscuit.
And they laugh when I can’t recognise
Myself being announced at banquets.
When I cannot recognise my placard
On the table;
When they demand I leave by the backdoor.
It is always by my father’s name.
Our names will never
Roll around their tongues,
With the strength and durability
Of the fathers who sired us.
Sweaty, sticky, spicy, sweet, tangy,
Names with stories and secrets.
When they pronounce those hidden musical notes,
Without the lilt and the tone and the timbre
It falls in a heap in front of us
With a dead thud;
Like a bird shot down midair.
This is the corpse of our stillborn hyphenated-Australian identity,
And my new name is white
Cold and silent – a mausoleum filled with the stories of people
We will never allow ourselves to be.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.