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Sujata Bhatt - Search for My Tongue

            This bilingual and beautifully picturesque poem, "Search for My Tongue" specifically deals with the dilemma of Asian youth raised in western society, the quandaries of being caught between two cultures, the search for identity being mirrored by the search for a mother tongue long atrophied from disuse. However, the poem suggests that through dreams and memories, an essential link is forged, and with it a sense of wholeness and identity.
             Initially, it explores a familiar ambiguity in English - "tongue" refers both to the physical organ we use for speech, and the language we speak with it. Sujata Bhatt writes about the tongue in both ways at once, playing on the use of the word, creating a surrealistic imagery.
             She deals with the experience of feeling that she is losing her mother tongue - her first language, Gujerati. Her tongue appears to symbolise her identity, her mother tongue demonstrating the deepest layers of her identity; her childhood, her memories, her roots. The intellectual as well as emotional problem of two languages is made physical through the dreamlike (If not nightmarish!) image of having two tongues in your mouth. The loss of the first language is made more real and physical through the usage of monosyllabic words - "rot" "die" "spit" - words that make it sound unpleasant, creating a more startling imagery. Furthermore, the phonetic representations of the sounds of her native language Gujerati - of alien words, helps us to experience the duality of two languages and cultures, stressing the difficulty of pronouncing and learning foreign languages, and her confusion of languages, identities and cultures. .
             Generally, this conflict between the two struggling identities is conveyed throughout the poem using contrasting imagery, creating an at times somewhat eerie atmosphere. The imagery linked to her mother tongue is sharply contrasted with the imagery connected to her second language.

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