Poetry, style

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. And this is why this year, I’ve started Yoruba lessons. lol it’s important for me to be able to speak my mother tongue to my children and I want to pleasantly surprise everyone. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

  2. 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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