collettivo culturale tuttomondo Sujata Bhatt (India)
Mi chiedi che cosa intendo dire
Quando affermo che ho perso la mia lingua.
Ti chiedo, che cosa faresti
Se avessi due lingue in bocca
E perdessi la prima, la lingua madre,
E non riuscissi a sapere davvero la seconda,
Non potresti usarle insieme
Anche se quando pensi finisce che fai così.
Se poi ti capitasse di stare in un paese
Dove si parla un’altra lingua ancora,
La tua lingua madre marcirebbe,
Marcirebbe e ti morirebbe in bocca.
foto: Sujata Bhatt
Sujata Bhatt (Ahmedabad, 6 maggio 1956) è una poetessa e traduttrice indiana.
Attualmente vive in Germania, a Brema.
Ha pubblicato otto raccolte di versi, per le quali ha ricevuto numerosi riconoscimenti internazionali, tra cui il Commonwealth Poetry Prize (Asia) e l’Alice Hunt Bartlett Award: Brunizem (1988), The One Who Goes Away (1989), Monkey Shadows (1991), The Stinking Rose (1995), Point No Point (1997), Augatora (2000), A Colour for Solitude (2002), Pure Lizard (2008).
For Bhatt, language is synonymous with the tongue, the physical act of speaking.
She has described Gujarati and the Indian childhood it connects her to as “the deepest layer of my identity”. However, English has become the language she speaks every day and which she, largely, chooses to write in.
The repercussions of this divided heritage are explored in her work, most explicitly in ‘Search for My Tongue’ which alternates between the two languages.
The complex status of English – its beauties and colonial implications – are also conveyed in the moving ironies of ‘A Different History’ and ‘Nanabhai Bhatt in Prison’ about her grandfather who read Tennyson to comfort himself during his incarceration by the British authorities. Such division finds geographical expression in poems which explore ideas of home (‘The One Who Goes Away’) and question our mental mapping of the world (‘How Far East is it Still East?’). It’s present too in her voice, with its musical melding of Indian and American inflections.
However, it’s in the non-verbal world of animals and plants that Bhatt finds a source of unity denied to humans except for the very young, as in her poem ‘The Stare’ in which the ‘monkey child’ and the ‘human child’ experience a moment of tender connection.
Perhaps it is this longing for unity which makes Bhatt’s writing so sensual; her poems are rich with the smell of garlic, the touch of bodies, the vibrant plumage of parrots. An intense colourist like the women artists who inspire some of these poems, Bhatt acknowledges that language splits us from experience but through the physical intensity of her writing brings us closer to it so that “the word/is the thing itself”.