Singlish

restaurant-beans-coffee-cup

We take Sinhalese words and insert them
Inside English phrases
No rules, codes or bibles, just a little bit of personalization
After all, jargon has a place, in reinvention
Sensationalism and even thespianism
When drama queens – and kings – shuffle out
Sinhalese words with American accents
And laugh out at their own wit – quite dubious though in face value
Making the “Goda Suddha” somewhat presentable
In this ovulation of Buddhist propaganda
And nationalistic sentiment

And here, native words are hyphenated
And linked, expressed with exclamations
Terminated with question marks
Randomly inserted, mixed like a salad
Shaken like a cocktail, eased out like toothpaste
With a squeeze of the tubal larynx
No sharp intonation – unlike the Indians
Who purr on every word –
As we dip words in plain vanilla
And leak them out as wild cinnamon
What is commonplace and Sri Lankan
Except for an uneasiness
That crashes into the senses
And sends shudders through
Language centers of the brain.

We hear echoes
Of words in drag – like when a simple vowel
Leaves a trail of sound
As we fashionably insert Sinhalese words
Inside English poems, just to sound
Like you’ve had a kotthu for 100 rupees
Or a faluda for a few more
After all, you habitually pay 400 rupees
For a piece of cheese cake
And a similar prize for a sophisticated coffee
Mocha – and not “Moka” inside Kopi Kade!

I used to read Keyas
Sinhalese words that used to flow like the river Mahaweli
In to the deltas of the heart
And now when I look at the mirror
I only see a man waffle-fueled at breakfast
And running an English marathon
I call life, one who has mastered two languages
But is forced to pay his penance
In one and when I hear Singlish
I can only look at myself
Knowing I’m no longer a “kaviya”
But a bard who can only
Write in one language – spiced here and there
With my native tongue.

And someday I will pass on
As my poems remain
As dust-particles of the internet
When they will look at my name
And say “Oh he’s a little Sri Lankan”
And read through until
My identity – just like my ashes
Scatters through hearts
When the man behind the words emerge
Sri Lankan by birth and hybrid by pidgin
And just as outlandish as the coffee houses
That spring around Colombo
Where Sri Lankans gather
To try some foreign coffee
Over a conversation of singlish
To belong to their heritage
And to be a fragment of a commoner
They once outgrew.

Advertisements

Published by

meandererworld (Dilantha Gunawardana)

Dr Dilantha Gunawardana is a molecular biologist, who graduated from the University of Melbourne. He moonlights as a poet. Dilantha wrote his first poem at the ripe age of 32 and now has more than 1700 poems on his blog. His poems have been accepted/published in Forage, Kitaab, Eastlit, American Journal of Poetry and Ravens Perch, among others. He was also awarded the prize for "The emerging writer of the year - 2016" in the Godage National Literary Awards, Sri Lanka for his first collection of poems (Kite Dreams – A Sarasavi Publication), while being shortlisted for the poetry prize. Dilantha is a dual citizen of Sri Lanka and Australia, and shares his experiences from two different cultures. He blogs at - https://meandererworld. wordpress.com/

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s