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You carry six languages in your tongue
The first you learnt at eight
When he called you away from your siblings
And taught you why some men
Who smile at little girls
Make you uncomfortable
You painfully learnt the secret language of mistrust.

The second language you learnt
At ten years old
When your uncle said
“You will never be
as beautiful as your light skinned sister”
you heard your mother cry
Five years later,
As you begged her
To make your skin
Just a little lighter
For you have learnt the language of self-hate.

The third language you learnt
When you saw your auntie
Go back to her husband
The one Umuada chastised
For hitting her
She told you
“A woman is nothing without a man”
Her eyes gathering tears
And you learnt
The language of helplessness.

The fourth language you learnt
When he kissed you at twenty
And you flinched
He asked,
“What are you scared of.”
You didn’t tell him how
Fluent your tongue is
With the language of mistrust
“You are a virgin”
He asked
And you saw the glee in his eyes
That moment,
You learnt another language
The language of power.

The fifth language you learnt
At twenty five
When your friends
Brought you offerings of darkness
And you painfully peeled your skin
To reveal another being
The language of change.

Five languages

Ijeoma Umebinyuo

(via theijeoma)

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