My father looked up at me,
the lines around his eyes mapping the route he and my mother took to come to a country that did – not – want them.
The lines on his palms tracing forty-seven years of labour.
Embedded deep enough to become the veins in his bloodshot eyes.
His hands motioned to the piece of cloth that covered my face –
His voice was the first tremor of an earthquake
Hesitant. Scared. Defiant.
Take it off on public transport
The tectonic plates of his throat encased his words in the sound of someone harassing his daughter.
Wear brighter colours
Don’t stare too long
Don’t bring attention to yourself
Don’t look – when your parents say they want to be fluent in English.
And why are we to bow down to a colonial language
that was shoved down our throats, that took over our soil,
that never reaped any growth – that never saw any flowers.
And isn’t it cruel that I’m writing this in a language I was forced to wrap my tongue around.
This was an entry in the 2017 Writing & Photo Contest.