“Bilingual education”, they say
Is that really true?
When we use the “white man’s” language every day
And only bring the other out at night
To talk to old relatives still dreaming
Of their homeland, when there were no “white folk”
No angmos milling about, and Asians seeming
More Western than Eastern.
Peel open our coloured skins, we cry
And inside us is white flesh,
Put there by the men that came by
When they came on our screens.
But when we grow out of our teenaged years
Out of the last remnants of childhood
And into the grown-up world bundled with fears
Of being mocked when we don’t speak
Chinese, Malay, Tamil, Hindi
To our parents, colleagues, friends, spouses
Will we still agree
The “white man’s” language is the best?
Or will we be proud that only we are
The ones the company send
To talk to that client from afar
The one from our homeland long ago
Now we sneer at the ones who only
Say “你好“， “hei sana” “Vaṇakkam” and “namaste”
In twenty years time that could be
Us, walking down corporate hallways plastered with English posters
Now we only think about the us that speak
One language, the one that makes us sound more polished
But what about the us that shriek
In two languages when we are older?