by Sujata BhattStudent
Opinion Piece by Karina Marwaha
earch for my ‘tongue’ is not just a poem, it is a story. A story through which Sujata Bhatt reflects upon her personal experience about moving to a new place, fitting in and making difficult decisions about herself and her identity. The author directly appeals to her audience, talking about having two tongues in her identity, not knowing which one to keep, how to do so and the struggles involved in making these tough decisions. The word ‘tongue’ is used as a metaphor for the language the author speaks in. Bhatt deliberately uses her mother language; Gujarati, in the poem to intensify her point by creating a powerful image that illustrates her two identities clashing simultaneously. Perhaps she didn’t know, was confused which to write in, perhaps she wanted to use both.
However we interpret it, this poem depicts how the author fears she left her original language behind, in favour of a foreign one. Yet no matter how many times she attempts to focus on one, leave the other- the ‘mother tongue’ will keep returning, it always finds a way back. A language isn’t just a way of speaking that sounds different depending on where it originated from, a language is a part of someone’s identity. A part of someone, so deeply ingrained that it’s impossible to ever be rid of completely. It will return, whether in dreams, in the form of people or simply a story. Whatever it is, a language can never be ignored and left behind to ‘rot’ - especially not when you’ve grown up with it. Imagine having two completely different, unique, parts of you constantly at war with each other. Imagine having two tongues fighting for the prize position.
But what about our identities? Here at Bassaleg, we have a wide variety of identities that exist within our school. Many would describe our community as diverse, multicultural and distinctively developed. Moving to a new place, with new people who speak a new language is always difficult to manage. This poem may well reach those people who will understand the confusion, the disorientation one feels when they are forced to accept a foreign language and take on a new identity. Conversely, I hope this poem reaches others. Not only for people who empathise, but those who sympathise.The reason for this is that this story is not simply a retelling of Bhatt’s difficulties, it’s also a message. A message that everyone would benefit to hear from; we should never forget where we come from, our place of origin, the place we grew up in, the people we know, our cultures, memories and our language.