Tongues: When Speaking the Coloniser’s Language Means Rejecting Your Own

Chithira Vijayakumar is a queer(er) brown(er) writer from Kerala, India who likes to think about decolonisation. They are currently working on their master’s degree in Environmental Studies at the University of Oregon, making them a short-term settler on Kalapuya land.

Chithira Vijayakumar is a queer(er) brown(er) writer from Kerala, India who likes to think about decolonisation. They are currently working on their master’s degree in Environmental Studies at the University of Oregon, making them a short-term settler on Kalapuya land.

By Chithira Vijayakumar, Black Girl Dangerous

I learnt to read Malayalam the easy way: by lying on my grandmother’s stomach, brown skin painted with the silverfish of my mother’s and my uncle’s births. By listening to her read the daily newspapers out to me.

I listened lying on the pleats of her starched cotton sari. I listened through the warmth of her skin, warmth like she had swallowed a thousand suns. By the time I was three, I was coaxing my tongue around headlines such as ‘Prathipakshakakshikal Rajyasabha Niraskarichu’. I was reading before I could understand what I was reading.

It wasn’t my doing; it was my grandmother, rolling the words up in her palm into delicious morsels, then placing them gently on my tongue.

Click here to read the full article on Black Girl Dangerous

One response to “Tongues: When Speaking the Coloniser’s Language Means Rejecting Your Own

  1. English is the language I know best, so my journey with Malayalam has been long and difficult, riddled with questions about my identity and decolonizing it. I grew up in Dubai with limited exposure to the mother tongue, so I learned how to read and write (incredibly slow at both) from road signs during the annual monsoon season visits. I enjoy reading Indian, South Asian and POC authors in general, but to read about Kerala and Malayalam in particular is incredibly moving and reaffirming. Thank you so much for doing this.

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