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I took a Test of English as a

Foreign Language, even though it is

more my own than any other I speak.

“But it’s not your mother tongue,

the language your mother speaks.”

My mother, in her fragmented tongues,

taught me English with her fragmented lips.

“When did you start learning English?”

I started when everyone does;

My first language is the first words

I called my Mummy and Papa with:

English, Hindi and Bangla, three of

my mother-tongues.

“But you only know academic English!”

India and it’s English tongue,

neither of them existed before we

learnt academic English, the Queen’s tongue.

This fragmented country speaks

fragmented tongues,

English among these fragments

just happens to be one.

Please, we have had enough TOEFLs

for our mothers have many tongues.

Pujarinee Mitra is a PhD scholar and Graduate Instructor at the Department of English, Texas A&M University. Having spent an excessive amount of time in grad school, she has been locked up with research paper writing for too long and desperately craves for a change. Apart from writing, she enjoys most other creative ventures (like painting, singing, dancing, etc.) even though she might not be very good at them. She suffers from a case of serious obsession with Harry Potter and Bollywood films (especially those with Shahrukh Khan in it). When she is not otherwise occupied with a good book and a large mug of coffee, she experiments with cooking all kinds of South Asian cuisine at home.
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