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Arshiya is five when she loses her tongue. It’s an accident, that first losing, not like the many ones that follow. They had a mango tree in their backyard in Noakhali, a tree her grandfather planted that grew tall and shiny-leaved. In summer, she would shimmy up bare-toed into its gnarled, sap-sticky branches and pluck the mangoes when they were still touched with green, too impatient to wait for them to flush yellow and red. She’d strip the skin from them with her teeth, shuddering with delight, screwing up her eyes at the tartness, and suck off the flesh until her incisors scraped the ridged pit at the centre. She was eating a mango on the morning of the day they left for Dubai, still licking the sticky remnants of juice from her fingers as her mother carried her to the taxi, and it was only on the train that she realised she’d left her tongue behind in the tree, hiding among the fruits like a little pink bird, still tasting mango juice and the tiny fuzz on the firm outsides of mango skins.
Her next few losings are small things, easily overlooked — nothing so great as a tongue. A few shreds of sinus tissue left in the grimy communal kitchen in the first migrant labourer community they live in on the outskirts of Dubai, sliding away while Arshiya curls up on the tiled floor and watches her mother gut and scale fish. It makes her sneeze, but the smell of the coconut oil in her mother’s hair lives forever in her nostrils afterwards, and that’s not so bad. A few baby teeth, clattering down the hole in the floor that serves as a drain in the communal shower stalls. It’s hard for her to talk without a tongue, but no one cares what she has to say, anyway — except her mother, who doesn’t mind her silence, and what’s a tongue weighed against the ability to summon the memory of mango juice whenever you want?
|What I Write||
Fantasy. Fleshy. Dark? Weird!
“Leviathan Sings to Me in the Deep” – forthcoming in Nightmare Magazine
“Never Yawn Under a Banyan Tree” – forthcoming in Anathema Magazine
I committed to writing a novel for my MFA thesis, which was obviously a terrible decision and I’m quite distressed. I’m about 5k into it so far, and my first goal is to get another 20k new words down.
Since this is my first Write-a-Thon, I’m cautiously setting my goal at $100.