Linguaphilia – Harnidh Kaur


Illustration by Saanya Chopra

The love of languages 

I’m going to murmur sonnets down

your spine, as I trace words in soft,

trembling cursive into your skin,

invoking the poets I grew up drinking,

leaving wet prints of translations

that left just enough taste to make

me ache for something purer than

the murky trail of histories lost to

the confines of colonial heritages,

and I’m going to let my tongue

write Hindi poetry into the flesh

of your shoulder, leaving glowing

words stamped into you, a code

I can unscramble with the songs

I hum when I play with your hair,

and I’m going to weave old folk tails

into your chest, pouring the fury

of loss and longing that has flown

for years through five rivers, together,

if held distinct and separate by

borders that refused to respect how

the words moved together, fluid,

and I’m going to press my fingers

into the inner curve of your upper

arm, showing you how Urdu slips

like the smell of crushed petals,

from my lips to yours, and I’m going

to do this one, by one, explaining

each word I use with the texture I

associate it with, for I’m going to

show you how one language will not

ever be enough for me to show you

how much love you make me spill.

Harnidh is currently pursuing her Masters in Public Policy from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai. Her first book, The Inability of Words, is called so because for all that she’s written, she still has more to speak of. She currently edits poetry for Inklette Magazine, and has been published in Textploit, EPW, Brown Girl Magazine, Postcolonial Text, Amarillo Bay, The Four Quarters Magazine among others. She can be contacted via email (