You stumble into your first meeting with a Tamil native. She nods curtly at you. Sweat trickles down your forehead. Four thousand years of history lie between you. Her nails have been immaculately pointed sharp. There is blood on them. You must not fail. You can not fail. They later find your body behind the dumpster.
The six nasals stare back at you, their eyes full of malice. Was it nya or nga? You do not remember. You continue to practice, you feel them stare back at you. Something shifts in the atmosphere.
You open your textbook, eager to work on translation. You skip the script and move towards the transliteration. The words are all made of Zh. You blink. It is now L. The words mock your ignorance.
Your professor starts talking about your Malayali mid-term project. You tell him that this is a Telugu class. There is no Telugu class. There has never been. The words blend into each other and you are convinced that you will never be able to learn Telugu.
Your words change script mid-sentence. From Tamil to Kannada and Malto. The scripts blend into each other and now you do not know where one begins and where the other ends. You look down. You have been drawing circles for the last hour.
You decide to go to Southern india for an exchange trip. You come to your hotel. You enter a vacant hotel, the streets are empty. The sun does not rise here. It has never risen. The eight Tamil cases prowel the streets. No one has left their homes in a century.
You arrive at Harrapa to learn about the ancient proto-Dravidian language. A sign hangs there. It warns you not to go forward, for many have ventured here and never left. You check your guidebook for information, it is blank. You look back at the sign. It too is blank. In the distance you hear elephants.
Your step-father comments on the harshness of your target language. He does not wake the next morning. You have begun to notice a pattern of deaths.