Sunday, 14 February 2016

You'll Forget English.

You'll forget English, the attractive girl in the pink headscarf said, after telling him that she wanted to read Shakespeare in the place of green linoleum floors where he had read English too. In some nights, when he wakes up in restlessness—when he has to code switch, when the lilt of another tongue is still sleeping on his tongue—he finds that his English isn’t perfect. Square words are blunt at the edges, and round ones—those that ought to be perfect circles—have grown thorns.

You’ll forget English.


***


Tell me a story, she asks. This question is not new. It has its roots in different lips, of different women. He touches her, that dark, beautiful skin, and it is unlike that porcelain skin, that mixed skin, that skin whose colour did not know whether to be fair, or dark. He tucks the black locks that give away as moving vines behind her ears.

What story?
Something to make me sleep, and she’s already drowsy, her long legs preparing to sleep. She does not know that she’ll be the Beatrice to this Virgil, the Lady Philosophy, to this Boethius. He closes his eyes, and tells the story of Persephone. A forgotten sweetness returns to his language.

We don’t know with what words he tells her that story, only that it lulls her to sleep, and that when she sleeps—returning to Hades—Spring, somewhere in the world, halts. And the writer, who had forgotten how to wield words, remembers English again.

There’s fear in his eyes, for—

She tells me, without telling—all the ink my pen would wield, will only run like a river to her. 

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