My father does not speak American.

His mother tongue is Punjabi, the five rivers, where there is life and growth and a place where his history belongs and is cherished and refuses to die –
My father does not speak American.

He is from water and earth and the harvest, he uses his hands to build and break apart and create again, he finds the worms friendly and the snakes in the fields old friends.
He falls from his bike onto the dusty ground and gets back up, laughing and crying, as the sun blazes down over his head that nourishes his home.

He walks past the river everyday and sees himself; he sees his life fall behind him, sees his heritage disappearing, he doesn’t see anything, what does he see? What is left?

Now he stands in the cold grey city and waits for the water that will not come back to him. He is locked in a zoo with the world stopping to watch him, this creature that performs tricks with a turban tied around his head in colors they don’t understand.
He looks but cannot find his home anymore. He is watched. Hunted.

My father does not speak American.

But he came here to be understood, to have a chance to listen and learn and grow.
To fly
Far and wide,
And begin again.
He came to feel safe in a world that promised him one.
But how you can you settle for a cement world when your lungs have breathed in rivers all its life?

My father does not speak American.

And he is drowning everyday because of it.


By: Saranjit Uppal

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