Posted in Free verse

Day 191: Mother Tongue

Tamil.. Taa mihl.. Thamizh…T(h)amil?
my mother’s tongue,
the language by which
she was given to my father. 
A word, I am still trying to understand
And the characters that define it.

Kuṭumpam ….Kudumpam.. Koo dumpam… Ku…
broken words,
echoes of memories lost
fractured pieces of families
trying to come together and create a whole.

Places where I began,
was found, got lost and
was reclaimed.
Spaces where life is lived
in between the margins of

Eṉṉai…Eṉ…NO…Nāṉ..Nā?..ṉ? Nee?
Pieces of me
keep getting lost in you.
Leaving me with times
when I only see myself
in opposition to you.
Where I find me,
in your omissions.

Tamil…Thamizh? English? Tamilish
my forgotten tongue
Created by the middle,
words to capture two hearts,
a history told in one voice,
articulated in different symbols.
Scripts and symbols,
trying to tell me the same

© Manivillie Kanagasabapathy

AN: Thank you to my beautiful friend Sathya for her work in ensuring that I used the correct Tamil terms. Just an FYI below, for the terms used 🙂

Tamil and disputed words used:

  • Thamizh: There is a debate about the correct phonetical spelling with the th and zh being the main point of debate (Thanks, Sathya)
  • Kuṭumpa: Family
  • Nāadu.: Country
  • Kaṉaṭā: Canada (Tamil Pronunciation)
  • Eelam: “Eelam is a proposed independent state that Tamils in Sri Lanka” 
  • Eṉṉai: Me
  • Eṉ: My
  • Nāṉ : I
  • Nee: You
  • Tamilish: Tamil typed in English


Attempting to discover more about myself and the world

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