On Losing My Language

Each time an aunty at a party asks me ba wo ni?
The real answer is a lodge in my throat.
I reply the way I know how; I am good aunty.

Days like this I shrink into a cage of shame.
Maybe itโ€™s partly to do with my father, I was hesitant
to learn the language he wanted to speak to me in.

Whenever I return home my grandmother asks
if I still wear her aso-oke on my tongue.
She examines my mouth to see if itโ€™s been sliced off

with an English sword. I smile, I tell her I understand
Yoruba but I canโ€™t speak it without stuttering over silence.
As if my silence was something to be proud of.
Theresa Lola

I recently came back from Nigeria after attending my cousins wedding. It was a beautiful / stressful / interesting / fun experience. I am yet to finish the poem I wrote inspired by the trip so thought I would share Theresa Lola’s instead.

I could imagine that some of my [Nigerian] friends would find aspects of the poem relatable. Although I am not Yoruba, I can empathise. I hope you enjoy it too.

 

7 thoughts on “On Losing My Language

  1. Sophie Cherenfant says:

    I can relate to that though I am not Nigerian but I am Haitian. Keeping up French and Haitian Creole while being fluent in English made my tongue very heavy whenever I had to switch to both of my native tongues. You look beautiful in your traditional gown

    Liked by 1 person

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