Brown Girls Don’t Have Homes

we are mutilated,bandaged into womanhood when we are here-in splintered lands we call h-o-m-e

and when we step out we carry the sun-shame onto the frozen honour of civilisation.

when we are home our mothers teach us to soften our tongues- mellow the edges of our anger so

others don’t get hurt. fold the knife inwards-the only rightful claim to the wounds is you.

when we step out their eyes trail our erring adolescence-reminders come, shroud yourself in shame

a few steps forward, and we are chained by those who seek

to save us from our own.

when we are home we are too much

we step out and spill out and the world doesn’t have enough room to house us

our hair curls wrong. our bodies rise and swell and recede as they please.

our voices ring too high. our words are too big. our desires too crude.

we carry too much spice. too little ease.

our mothers were right. the streets are not for us. not the way men’s eyes

sneer in the guise of desire. women’s bodies cause men to sin – on our part,

desire itself is.

the only real way to escape is to pick one man and build his home.

pick your prison. not everyone has license to choose. savour your luxuries.

squeeze out a child maybe two. pray they are not cursed like you.

brown girls build homes in words. you are lucky if the vultures don’t follow you here.

pillow-homes, shake out the feathers. you are selfish if you write your self into being.

brown girls don’t have selves. look at sita. how she sunk in dishonour.

if we write about others it does not matter.

the blood in the north does not matter.

the cries in the north east does not

matter.

the flesh at the border is just part of a procedure.

shut your eyes. brown woman. brown man is only protecting you from the other.

don’t dream of home. don’t you learn.

your grandmothers left theirs. in more ways than one.

if need be. build one in your head. but don’t speak

don’t flaunt it don’t plaster invitations on the wall

all your womanly sentimentality it gets in the way of progress and development.

only progress builds you a home. we will build you a home.

a home where you can veil yourself in discarded respect. a home built on blood and bones.

brown girl don’t scream don’t speak so loud

what is home to you if not a noose our great empire flung down?

brown girl take the noose. take the hint. don’t blink a lash don’t bat a lid.

we build you home brown girl we give you safety we ask in return one thing

one thing only

your vision and  voice.

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Nostalgia,In The Age Of Social Media

I am scrolling through Twitter. I have tweeted about the daily displays of sexism I am sick of facing, and got a few favourites.

I am back on Twitter after a very long time, so I find myself going back to my own profile. In my photo gallery here, I am, when I appear, eighteen. Chubby-even more then than now,more pimples,hair freshly shorn. There are other photos too-books I am reading,snug under blankets as I wait for first my board exam results, and then university acceptances to come along. The first few days of college, and I am documenting every stretch of campus I am newly enraptured with.

Instagram. The story is the same. Hazy shots of books strewn across bedsheets, screenshots galore, shrines in dedication to my seventeen-year old mind’s heroes-Jim Morrison, Edie Sedgwick, Talitha Getty, Janis Joplin.These give way to a month spent vacationing in Delhi, then starting university-here again, a campus documented lovingly,if rigorously.

Someone said the digital media has killed albums-photo albums handed down generations, the intimacy of leafing through your childhood, your family huddled round you.

I am sure it has its charms. But..they died with Facebook,with Instagram,with the new non-commitment  of Snapchat and Instagram stories-they are replaced,you allege,by something that doesn’t deserve to replace them.

But these are our albums now,our stacks of journals,our letters,and these are our feeble,frantic,tiny histories.

What social media lets us do is tell our own stories. A little filtered maybe, a little adjusted sometimes to suit society’s expectations, or win its approval.

We still document,we still archive,we edit a little with time-who hasn’t?What documentation is, in this age,is a very personal, very individual-if not a little narcissistic, affair.

I am scrolling through Twitter,and I am thinking of nights I spent in a similar way,the glaring blue-and-white screen providing a series of distractions from the inevitable worries-results,college acceptances…I am thinking of playing Mohiner Ghoraguli in my room,alone, on a night like this-and dreaming of all university would open up to me,if only it opened up its gates. I am thinking of the youth I dreamed up and never got to live-the spirit of rebellion bubbling down from the 50s Beats-Hungryalists, and the 60s surges of counterculture-the rebellion that bubbles down to a Facebook post or two.I am thinking of the book by Deborah Baker I read, about the Beats in India-the quotes from the Kolkata chapter neatly archived on my Tumblr. I am thinking of the scarlet dupatta I bought from the Gujarat emporium on my 18th birthday and how pretty it made me feel,how a hashtag #reclaimthebindi made me re-examine everything I have ever learnt about my own culture and its backwardness,its sheer uncoolness.

This is how we assert life,dangling earrings and a selfie-I was here,I flaunted a defiant crimson smile. We leave traces of our thoughts,trickling off our heads,messy and glorious,we scatter our rage and our laughter onto Tumblr #aesthetics.

It is just part of how we live, do not dare tell us we are anything short of majestic.

I haven’t written here in a very long time, and I don’t really know what I have been doing. All I know is that I am very exhausted. Will be back soon,as soon as writing feels more therapy and less obligation again.