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Immigrant Speak


What’s in a name

besides history and turmeric powder,

bloodline and lotus roots,

and truth playing atop a mango bough?

Jhumpa is no Nilanjana,

but nicknames chime sweeter than cumin-spiced

syllables for strangers to cough

through (better for business too).

Yet when my father stumbles on

the sticky branches of homographs and idioms,

no one bends their trunks of pompous words

to make room for him to pass through.

So thank God my father slashed the mango pulp

of his surname

in half and grafted it to my newborn roots. Short

enough to escape crooked tongues, though

the yellow smear of a bitter-flavored accent lingers

to remind me: had I not been born in the land of the


these lines would have rhymed enough,

this name would be mine.

Aditi Raju is a 17-year-old living in California's Bay Area. Her work has been recognized by the National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, the Live Poets Society of New Jersey, PTSA Reflections, and the National It's All Write Teen Writing Contest. When not writing, she enjoys designing logos, listening to film scores, and defending Oxford commas.

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