Where Boys Do Household Chores Too

He brings the bread.
I serve the cooking.
I can bring the bread,
but he will never do the cooking.

A cuckoo cries out somewhere but I do not
Have the sensibility
to look out, or keep still
till the sound, or the bird,
or both, die out:
Maybe she is raising her voice,
Else reprimanding someone who did.

I can rest my unease knowing
That the language of birds
Is not understood by my kind.

Us women, we do a lot more
Than cooing.

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Creation

Creation is beautiful.
I pick up my brush and try to paint a dream
Layers and layers of imagination
Till it’s plastered thick enough to be real,
Tangible
Till you can feel
Like you do in a museum of art
Where you go against the labels
Which say ‘do not touch’:
You touch
You touch the dream again and again
You take it in your hands and mould it
Till the sculpture is as perfectly
Expressive
As the poetry you like to read
– the poetry I lose sleep over
Trying to get the words just right
I fight
The entire world to keep it alive
And coming
Flowing and gushing
A waterfall of words
Stringed together to make your soul sing
Like you do to the music I play:
The piano
Is black
And white
And anything but grey
when I play
Tell me
If you hear the colours
That I thought of
And I’ll paint you a portrait with them alone
And you’ll tell me
it looks like Van Gogh
And sounds like The Weeknd
Because they’re the only names you know.

Creation is ugly.
Some mothers die in labour,
trying to give birth to the ideas
They’ve carried inside for so long
Like a song
My art
The book you’re writing
Which never comes out
Because nobody fights to
protect the baby
Once it’s born
Everyone wants a free
copy
Or tickets
and paintings to hang
on the walls of their rooms:
They’re decorated without the guilt
of freeloading
You’re downloading
All that music for free
Well, what you don’t realise is that
Creation
Is expensive
Exhausting:
Takes the baby months in gestation
And the birth of a brainchild isn’t always painless
We’re penniless
You and I are friends and
Somehow, I owe you my art
Because of it
So you ask me to paint you
In colours of selflessness
And irony
Have the ideas forced out of me
Words coloured carnelian red dripping
from my brush
My body cut open in
A c – section
Because that’s how an artist must display
Their affection
For a friend
And for art.

You tell me how mothers like me
Are proud
To see their brainchildren grow into
The respectable,
decorated
with accolades and recognition
I’ll tell you how they ache to be respected themselves
to for once be nicely painted by society
the colours bright and flowing
and not having to resort
to self portraits.
I’ll tell you how artists
Give the last drop of their milk
To save the child
Which nobody cares for
Till it’s in a pageant or
on TV
And the net worth is a million bucks.
I will paint myself starving
And sing about how you can see my ribs
More than my soul as I play
And you still won’t get it.

How Dare I Be Born with Ambitions and a Vagina 

​I was born of the womb of another like me 

They looked at me and said there is no jewel finer 

But I was sacrilegious and blasphemous, they soon realised 

For how dare I house within me ambitions when I have a vagina?

You see, it is antithetical, for my voice is redundant 

Meant to be kept low, to remain unheard and unimportant 

For I am an accessory, not my own person independent 

but wife of, daughter of, mother of – always defined by a man. 

They tell me my body is a temple when temples do not let women pray 

They tell me my sight is a temptation that can lead men astray 

That compromising my modesty will name me a whore 

They tell me some things, they tell me some more.

And who are they, may you ask, and why this they say 

And why not let me find my own way – well, see,

It will make the patriarchy curse, make blood curdle in its veins

For I may get a mind of my own if they loosen the reins.

On streets I collide with men whose paths I allegedly stand in 

For I may be invisible to them out in the public sphere, in a man’s world 

For they may see me as domesticated and expect me 

to step out of their way, and not the other way round. 

Like birds who never left cages thinking of flight to be an illness 

The victims of generations of internalisation of weakness 

Some old women, they tell me to speak no ill of the men who protect me

While these so called protectors spew swear words degrading my anatomy and identity.

I was born of the womb of another like me 

But now I seek to break free of my gender’s perceived infirmity

The shackles will lay broken soon enough if we try 

To educate and empower, to listen to what speaks the cry.

And to the men and women who look down on me I say 

These aspirations won’t be a part of me if it weren’t meant to be this way 

Just like the goddesses we put on pedestals to bestow respect and  honour 

I was born with ambition, and it doesn’t have to go away because I have a vagina. 

This Is Not A Cry For Help

 

Since the lone wolf has been glamourized beyond realistic boundaries, I thought I’d bring to light what it really is like to be alone and lonely.

 

It isn’t being a sharp-mouthed, black-toting, misanthropic, mysterious creature of the night.

 

It’s breaking piggy banks as a five year old to buy friendship bracelets to hand out at school, and returning with empty wrists. It is feigning illness as a child to avoid going to the park, because you can’t tell your mother that nobody would play with you.

It’s inviting people to your tenth birthday and having nobody show up at all. It’s sleeping through the rest of your birthdays because there’s nothing special about them.

 

It’s being in a group but feeling left out, as if you’re not really a part.  It is having so much on your mind but nobody to discuss it with.

It’s busying yourself with chores and schoolwork and art and music, because there is nobody to hang out with. It’s  knowing that your talents are a by-product of your loneliness.

 

It’s going days, even weeks, without having any interaction with people other than your family. It is the nagging reminder that even your family is stuck with you without an option to bail.

It’s going through preschool to graduation without having any real or lasting friendships. It’s telling yourself that all of it will change in college.

 

It’s watching people enjoy with their friends and wondering what it is about you that repels friendships and close relations. It’s seeing the relationships between friends in books and movies and wondering why you can’t have any even half as good.

It’s an everpresent anxiety about your appearance, the thought that maybe there is something wrong about the first impressions you put across. 

It is having regular breakdowns and crying into your pillow, wondering what is wrong with you.

 

It’s putting other people before you, only to watch them leave and accuse you of indifference. It’s believing people when they tell you you’re toxic. It’s pretending like you prefer being left alone because you don’t want people to pity you.

It’s typing out texts to the people on your contacts list but not sending them because you don’t want to seem too desperate or needy. It’s waiting for people to want to talk to you, in vain.

It’s remaining forgotten till someone needs a favour. It’s never being able to ask for favours because there is nobody you can ask who would be willing to help.

 

It’s constantly feeling like a black sheep, an outsider, a misfit and an imposter. It’s the inability to share your secrets and the musings of your mind. It’s being flippant and making jokes to cover up how you really feel.

It’s brushing off any attention you might get, for fear of getting used to it.

 

It’s making long internet searches on mental illnesses, begging for an explanation as to why you are as sad as you are. It’s the crushing amount of courage it takes to keep yourself from giving up.

 

It’s the inability to get a load off your chest. It’s nothing like you’ve been led to believe. It is just you ending up putting down the things you feel onto paper, reminding and convincing  yourself that this is not a cry for help.

Deception

I feel incongruous with the people that surround me.

It is hard, so very hard, to get the hang of people. How do you explain why one person can make your skin crawl, and another makes it tingle? Isn’t it scary that you never know what someone might really be feeling or thinking,whether they really mean what they say, like all of it can be one colossal lie?

Lies. Lies and people…people and lies – they’re synonymous. To both of them, there is a variety. It is the experience of this variety that makes the act of trusting someone so difficult. Trust is like money – you have to earn it. Sure, you can, at times, cheat through it, but unlike money, once you lose it, trust can never be gained again.

What is the biggest falsity that can be uttered? Forever. Forever is a fictitious term, every song ends. Flowers wither, seasons pass, people leave – and some leave for good. No matter how much your heart yearns for them, or how much you will for them to come back, they do not. They can not. Everything has an expiry date. The train has to leave this platform and the sooner you say goodbye to it, the better, for it will not come back – the tracks do not allow it to. But of course, this does not mean that there will not be any other trains coming your way – after all, you are a junction, and a junction is meant to be stopped at. But only temporarily.

Have you ever seen the pebbles in the rivers as the sun shines on them? So colourful, so beautiful, almost unreal. They make you want to look at them again. They make you want to touch them. They make you want to pick them up and pull them out of the water. But know this – the pebbles are colourful only as long as they’re in the ebbing river. Some people are like that,too – they turn grey and dull just as soon as you pull them out of the water.

It is funny how we are so important, so constitutive in our own lives, we can not imagine being any less essential in those of others. Some people will claim that you’re more important to them than anything else, but again, it is just a lie. Truth is, there can only be one true protagonist in every story. You can be her in yours, but you have to be content with being just a filler in their story, a piece in their game. Because, that’s how it works – it always has and it always will.

But who are they? They’re all of us, of course. They are you and me and every other human who ever has inhabited the planet or will do so in the future.And knowing this, we can at least think, that if deception was an art, perhaps we would be masters of it.