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Poem by Navya Karanam 2E/20

Updated: Nov 26, 2021

Tongues split into two,

Voices colliding into one,

I look around, blue,

Really, it’s so fun!

Growing up in this place,

Separated from my kind,

It’s a language I can’t ace,

God, I’m so culturally blind.

Going back to the motherland,

I see such fluent speakers,

It feels like I’m banned

So I stayed canned.

It really is a shame,

That I can’t feel same,

But is it really my fault,

That I don’t feel like the default?

After all, I didn’t choose to move,

But it really messed up my groove,

Because I can’t speak a language,

And that’s never approved.

I feel so disconnected,

Like I’m a black dot on a white paper,

Always correct,

I can’t escape her.

The grasp of my own culture,

It chokes me,

It holds me back,

I need some payback,

Because this really sucks.


Through this activity, I had learnt that Indian culture is very diverse- more diverse than I had ever imagined. I used to think that there was a new language for each state. What I did not realise was that there were more than 19500 languages spoken in India. It was eye opening to know that my culture was way more diverse than I had anticipated. However, this does not bode well in terms of economic development, as the many languages lead to not having much form of communication between people and the fight over which languages are considered national languages. My parents are from different states, hence their families speak different languages. My mother’s family speaks Tamil, something that I learn in school, and my father’s family speaks Telugu, something that I do not understand a single word of. When I visit them, I feel left out, as only a few in the family can speak English and I always feel like I need a translator and this has changed the way I connect with them and thus affect our relationship.

Another problem I face is a sort of cultural identity crisis, especially being in a country where the majority of the population do not consist of Indians. Thus when I am in Singapore, I do not feel Singaporean enough, and when I am in India, I do not feel Indian enough. I do not have many opportunities to learn about Indian culture as the population is low. I only learned such information from my parents and Mother Tongue Teacher. I feel very disconnected from my Indian heritage as I live in a place where English is spoken as the main language. I feel like I do not deserve to say I am an Indian, since I don't know much about my own culture. It really is as sad as I should at least have the chance to know more about my culture.

In the poem, I rhyme my lines to show that they are all connected. In a way, many of those who are bilingual have a cultural identity crisis at one point in their lives, and I want to show that they are not alone. I also use informal language, to appeal to all audiences and show that they are not alone, and that we are all related. I feel like we all need to stick together to get through this identity crisis and we should help each other through it. It is troubling to have to go through such, as we feel like we stick out like a sore thumb, and never belong in a single group. Culture should not be viewed as black and white, but instead as a spectrum. We should understand that we cannot fit in a particular group, and be proud of how diverse we are and remember that.

I use this poem to empower those who have a cultural identity crisis. They are not alone, and they have my support. They do not stick out like a sore thumb, they stick out as a colourful and vibrant human being, and I feel that we as a society should remember that and appreciate them for who they are. We as a society should not put them down, we should bring them up. We should provide them with avenues to learn about their culture, because they are unique and we need to show them that we know that; we need to show them that they may not know their culture, but that’s okay.

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