Speaking in Tongues

    By Kiran Bhat

    1988 and Other Poems


    Title: Speaking in Tongues
    Author: Kiran Bhat
    Publisher: Red River
    Pages: 214

    1 – 1998

    children of my age played kickball or baseball.
    I tried once in a while,
    but could never properly kick the ball.
    it would usually not go very far,
    or it would go in the entirely wrong direction,
    into the grass
    or the dancing flowers,
    or the peanut fields
    or the mud.

    mosquitos bit so much.

    I was always under the playset
    pretending to be fighting with Dragonball-Z characters
    causing war to erupt between my toy soldiers,
    waiting for the next toy to be bought

    those days underneath the playset
    I never felt lonely.
    I felt in power
    in control
    by being completely by myself.

    I learnt early
    that it was often better to be alone
    than to be with people who would never understand you,
    and to truly develop into who I was meant to be,
    I would have to learn,
    for better or for worse,
    to be aligned with my emotions, first and foremost.

    2 – My Indian-born cousin asks me; Do you think people understand you?

    My Indian-born cousin asks me; Do you think people understand you?

    Kiran says:

    When one sits on the bed,
    One calls it comfortable,
    But they are laying on a bed sheet.

    Skyscrapers glimmer from the distance,
    But the foundation of any building is dirt.

    People see me for my way of acting –
    My skin color, my gestures my accent –
    Then make some ideas of who I happen to be.
    They may treat me badly, or treat me quite well,
    But they don’t know me.

    Not to mention, if I can’t understand myself,
    How can I expect others to understand me at all?

    Kiran concludes:
    You must simply accept how small you are
    In the space of the world,
    And when someone does not understand you,

    Remember how little you understand them as well

    Kiran Bhat is an Indian-American author, traveler, and polyglot. He currently lives in Mumbai, but he has been to 147 countries, lived in 25 other places on the planet, and dabbles in twelve languages. He is known as the author of we of the forsaken world…, but has published books in five different languages, and has had his writing published in journals such as The Caravan, The Bengaluru Review, The Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, The Brooklyn Rail, 3:AM Magazine, SOFTBLOW, and many other places. You can follow him on Twitter at WeltgeistKiran.

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