The Ancestral Hall of Languages

When we left the land where the gods spoke our language, we thought we would return. We slipped our language in the crook under our tongues for safekeeping as we swam away from the coast. As we swam further and further, we acquired the languages of the gods of the new lands on the tips of our tongues. We were secured in the knowledge that the old language was always underneath, nestled safely. But the old language was not content with the gloomy cave it had to take refuge in. It threatened to escape at the most inopportune times- in times of concaving anger, flattening sadness and expanding joy.

When we brought forth new life to new lands, we released the old language to the young ones. We were delighted when we found that they could hold two languages on their tongues at once. They conversed with the old gods and the new gods with equal ease, sometimes all at once. They spoke to the new gods in ways we never could, of things we never had and that is why they were able to keep swimming, further and further.

As they swam further and further, the space underneath their tongues overflowed with the old languages while the new languages washed in with the seismic waves of their lives. The tremors were felt all the way over here - the shores from which they swam a long time ago.

Hold on! we said to the old languages. But the old languages could not hold on. The interference was far too strong. The old languages, which might have formed roots of the young ones, was not to be. And so, they were rooted out from within and voided, further and further into the ancestral hall of languages.

                      Dari sini kami berseru
                      It is from here that we speak to them

                      Dengan kata-kata dari bayangan
                      With words that they no longer can imagine

                      Hari ini hari yang mulia
                      But it is a fortunate day

                      Karna dewan ini telah dilengkapi
                      For the ancestral hall of languages

                      Dengan sarikata
                      Provides subtitles.


About The Author

Booi Carlyn writes from the confluence of cultures that is Kuala Lumpur. She hopes to harness the chaotic energy of her wonderfully frustrating city to generate stories. Her short stories have been published in Ricepaper Magazine and Touchstone Literary Magazine. She was nominated for the Best of the Net 2021.