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ON BEING A THIRD CULTURE KID...

When I lived in the USA I was asked continuously where I was from. There is no short answer.


I wrote this poem recently and I noticed the ending just dangles like the yarn from a knitting needle asking, "Is this enough for a nice long scarf?"


I think the end dangles because I'm still in the process of becoming - something I hope will continue till the end.


Third Culture Kids struggle with identity and belonging, which is only fair considering the wobbly childhood we have had. The straddling of cultures, languages and customs is part and parcel of the deal we make (or our parents make) when we choose this lifestyle. Would I change my nomadic childhood for roots and belonging? In a word. Never. It's too rich, too beautiful, too expansive - but mostly, it's made me who I am.


So, to any other Third Culture Kids out there - hello, my friend, hello, my tribe. May the yarn of life dangle till the end with infinite possibilities and adventures yet to be had.


MIGRATORY BIRD


There are fragments of my soul

Scattered bird seed

Across continents

Desert

Sea

Mountain

Each one claiming citizenship

And inalienable rights of –


Belonging


My soul’s hips twist

Undulate to each call

Ate!

Yallah!

Hate’!


My larynx reverberates

Hoarse from responding to each summoning

My ribs have become brittle

Constricting and expanding

They rattle within

A cage of defence for the vascular organ within

Pumping memories of

Wing

Feather

Beak

A hymn of sweet melancholy –


I belong nowhere wholly

Where I go,

An absent sliver of me

Remains


A seed

Grain

Particle


Of me-ness

Missing


I am the flamingo migrating

from the Salt Lake at Hala Sultan Teke in Larnaca

To the oasis nestled in the sands of Bahrain

Bahr-rein

Two seas

Iki deniz

Dio Thalasses

Sweet and salty

Like me


A falcon cresting a khanjar in Oman

Amidst sacks of frankincense, tobacco and oud


A pigeon defecating on the statue of

Admiral Nelson in Trafalgar Square

Loving -

Despising the coloniser


A little owl between the fallen columns at Delphi

Baalbek and the Temple of Hera in Samos


Silver wing

Against blood moon –


Guide on dark-soul nights


I weave between palm fronds

Scatter blossoms from the bergamot trees,

Pluck jasmine and plum grapes from vines

Rose petals and rice beneath my feet

Sipping sweet fragrant wine,

saffron tea

and

coffee infused with cardamom


My soul is scattered in a thousand pieces

And I –

Am a strange bird

Made up of

Peacock plumes,

bulbul

And dove


I have no Latin name to legitimise me

define my species and genus

but

I am not alone

There are many strange birds

Migrating

Collecting the seeds of their scattered souls across

Forest

Valley

Stream


And we recognise each other



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