I meant to say, tongue, tong, tongues, tongs.
They looked at me, making sure I didn’t say it right and demanded repetition.
My tongue twists to form various shapes in an attempt to produce so-called correct pronunciation.
The tongue becomes heavy and broken.
I try to mend the broken tongue.
It only leaves the visible mark of the scar.
The pain of speaking a foreign language, not being able to speak my mother tongue, festers inside my mouth.
The pain of not being able to speak out the truth festers inside.
The tongue becomes mouldy, not being able to function.
My face of Asian recites bilingually over the white plaster face:
Close your eyes Listen to me You will understand.
I see. I understand. Do you have to see it to understand?
I mimic a white language, but my tongue cannot be white tongue like a porcelain. I cannot be the same as the white, aligning each other perfectly. The difference in language and culture cannot be erased to match harmoniously, but rather it is visible and should be.
Tongues that Smell, Taste, and Eat.
The difference in culture presents with the trace of scents from candles.
The aroma of essential Korean food, Kimchi, is overwhelmed by the Japanese honeysuckle scent. Japanese colonisation forced the mother tongue of Koreans to fade into silence.
Hold your tongue.
The authoritative voice demands silence.
When the Korean language was not allowed, it became bilingual in Korean and Japanese.
Mother tongue does not disappear but multiplies, marked by the visible scar of emotional pain and trauma in the process.
My tongue becomes bilingual in Korean and English in Australia.
I have both with differences. The scar remains.
White Porcelain requests the purity of women.
The only given role as a wife and a mother is serving a husband and a son, Quietly.
How dare, hold your tongue, men said.
The only given role as a colonised woman is a sex slave.
How shameful, hold your tongue, men said.
The youth is crushed like pressed flowers.
Red of oozing pain as a living human.
Try to mend with stitches, but the scar remains visible.
Marking the thick outer lines adapted from Minhwa (Korean folk drawing) drawn by anonymous female commoners during the hierarchal Confucian society of Korea,
I dedicate this work to Silenced Women.
Exhibition: 29 March to 6 May 2023, Manningham Art Gallery, the land of the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung people of the Kulin nation.