This essay was published in Cafe Dissensus, 3 June 2015
By Rashida Murphy
My paternal grandfather died when I was six years old but my memories of him are lucid and visceral, reinforced by old black-and-white photographs. Photographs that show an unsmiling man, short and portly, dressed in pinstripes and waistcoat with a fob watch looped around his waist. He leans on a stick and his rimless spectacles suggest short sightedness. Yet I remember laughter, deep belly-shaking laughter and energy; energy and robustness that defied the weariness I see in the photos. And I remember him in English, a language I am certain he never spoke.
So what is it about memories and language? I dream in two languages, sometimes three. With my siblings and cousins I spoke Hindi/Urdu (and still do, despite Hindustani not being my mother tongue), but our parents and grandparents obliged us to speak to…
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