Around the Web

‘Translated Disney’: This woman’s fierce poem attacks the glorification of the English language

‘English in India is sucking up to the colonialists, but forgetting they left a long time ago’


For 21-year-old slam poet Diksha Bijlani, English is a language she has no choice but to use. She cannot write poetry in any other tongue. But, just like the Hindi versions of the Disney movies she watched on TV in childhood, she wonders whether her identity isn’t lost in translation.

Perhaps she would rather be true to her “first language”, even if it has been supplanted by her second? Performing her poem, Translated Disney, at Kommune’s Spoken Fest, Bijlani attacked the glorification of English in India (video above). An excerpt:

“I am a descendant of a family of multilingual folk
who are synonymous to non-English speaking.
Who sent me to English school so I could be better than them
Because speaking English in India is status
English in India is ‘Look, I have a verbal Mercedes!’
English in India is sucking up to the colonialists
but forgetting they left a long time ago”

Bijlani, who is from Allahabad, told, “My poem isn’t against English speaking per se, it is against putting English speaking on a pedestal and looking down or inducing an inferiority complex in everybody who cannot speak English. On the sidelines, it is also about a loss of identity experienced by the diaspora, when they are made to accept or fit into a culture that isn’t organically theirs.”

In her poem, Bijlani bemoans a duality of identity she experiences as a result, worrying that this might lead to a decoupling of personal identity from our cultural identity.

“The role language plays in culture is crucial,” she contended. “Many rituals, phrases, ideas which may culturally make sense find no semantic translation into English. We might just strip ourselves of those unique identities if we associate our native languages only via translation, and not with the fluency of first languages. What if our cultural essentialism cannot be captured through English at all? That is how culture dies a slow death – when you asphyxiate the language it was born in.”

Acknowledging the irony of her own poem being in English – something she has received minor criticism for – Bijlani pointed out that it is the result of her education, and because she originally wrote and performed the poem at a poetry slam event in Chicago, to a room full of white people. Moreover, the poem itself acknowledges that irony, as Bijlani recites, “This is not conformity, this is surrender; how I cannot write this poem in anything but English so you (white people) would understand it” and “Frankly, there is no other language I am competent enough to write poetry in”.

“It is up to us to not use one language as the yardstick to measure intellect, or to disseminate knowledge in,” she said.

We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

When did we start parenting our parents?

As our parents grow older, our ‘adulting’ skills are tested like never before.

From answering every homework question to killing every monster under the bed, from soothing every wound with care to crushing anxiety by just the sound of their voice - parents understandably seemed like invincible, know-it-all superheroes all our childhood. It’s no wonder then that reality hits all of a sudden, the first time a parent falls and suffers a slip disc, or wears a thick pair of spectacles to read a restaurant menu - our parents are growing old, and older. It’s a slow process as our parents turn from superheroes to...human.

And just as slow to evolve are the dynamics of our relationship with them. Once upon a time, a peck on the cheek was a frequent ritual. As were handmade birthday cards every year from the artistically inclined, or declaring parents as ‘My Hero’ in school essays. Every parent-child duo could boast of an affectionate ritual - movie nights, cooking Sundays, reading favourite books together etc. The changed dynamic is indeed the most visible in the way we express our affection.

The affection is now expressed in more mature, more subtle ways - ways that mimics that of our own parents’ a lot. When did we start parenting our parents? Was it the first time we offered to foot the electricity bill, or drove them to the doctor, or dragged them along on a much-needed morning walk? Little did we know those innocent acts were but a start of a gradual role reversal.

In adulthood, children’s affection for their parents takes on a sense of responsibility. It includes everything from teaching them how to use smartphones effectively and contributing to family finances to tracking doctor’s appointments and ensuring medicine compliance. Worry and concern, though evidence of love, tend to largely replace old-fashioned patterns of affection between parents and children as the latter grow up.

It’s something that can be easily rectified, though. Start at the simplest - the old-fashioned peck on the cheek. When was the last time you gave your mom or dad a peck on the cheek like a spontaneous five-year-old - for no reason at all? Young parents can take their own children’s behaviour available as inspiration.

As young parents come to understand the responsibilities associated with caring for their parents, they also come to realise that they wouldn’t want their children to go through the same challenges. Creating a safe and secure environment for your family can help you strike a balance between the loving child in you and the caring, responsible adult that you are. A good life insurance plan can help families deal with unforeseen health crises by providing protection against financial loss. Having assurance of a measure of financial security for family can help ease financial tensions considerably, leaving you to focus on being a caring, affectionate child. Moreover,you can eliminate some of the worry for your children when they grow up – as the video below shows.


To learn more about life insurance plans available for your family, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of SBI Life and not by the Scroll editorial team.