Finding home
here in London
was rough.

Refugees were allowed
but not welcomed.
Amma and Appa
didn’t speak the language
they were supposed to.
Never a chance for their pleases to
meet their thank yous.
For their half-asked questions
to meet answers.

I translated Appa’s soft-spoken Tamil
through parents evenings and
doctors appointments and
social worker visits.
For people with clipboards
and clipped voices
who scored them
as careless parents
who had better things to do than
help with homework or read
bedtime stories
of golden-locked girls in towers
rescued by straight-spined
princes of empire
because they were too
bloody-hell busy
packing bags for life
at Tesco down the road.

And I didn’t understand
how hurt my parents were
when I was ashamed of everything
Tamil. Knew I was queer
so thought I couldn’t be Tamil.

Didn’t know
it made sense
to be both.

From Magma 85, Poems for schools

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