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This piece was written by a J&C Senior, Maya Joshi, who is also a member of Manual RedEye.

While we are in the process of creating a limited-edition chapbook for the winners of the Do You Speak My Language? contest, we will be posting a selection of contest submissions to our website. This poem was submitted to the contest by Maya Joshi of Manual High School, grade 12.

Community, To Me

 

The smell of sandalwood and smoke

Dark and cool metallic shadows, as familiar as old friends

The taste of a half remembered prayer, spoken through fumbling lips

Joining the strong chant surrounding me

Low whispers from papery mouths

Ancient and irreverent to all but this moment

The joy in the return

Regret and relief mingling in guilty goodbyes

Laughing and teasing, jokes and Parsi bol

Daal chavel and dhandar patio and sallee murghee

Hello to old neighbors, forgotten family members, school acquaintances

Paying respects all the same

Gossip in the kitchen, uproar at the table, and all gathered round yelling at the tv

by nightfall

We’re not so different

We’re not so alone

But if everyone sees what they look for

Who am I to pick at that bone

Bright sharp eyes

That can explode all flaws with one look

Hands that can slip lemongrass and honey into chai and spill not a drop

Furious minds that make the choices they can, absorbing details like spilled ink Like sugar in milk

We were all ”Wallas” once, hailing from Gujarat in our gara saris with jolly, unfiltered words

Eyes deepened by suffering yet left unclouded by it

We were all Persians once, the empire made great by our achievements

We were all that we still are, now spread throughout the world

Our bowl of milk is bigger now

And yet we spill no drops

But still sweeten all around us.

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