Category Archives: Poetry Performances

How can you live with what you did to me?

I had questions storming my mind ever since day one – Why didn’t you see us together, what did I miss, how are you dealing it, are you okay, did I hurt you a lot, etc… Though, I’ve not processed it all, there is one question that I want to look in your eyes and ask – How can you live with what you did to me?
You see. We’ve been talking about breaking up for over a year now. I knew it was coming. But what I didn’t expect is the betrayal. Do you remember how you felt bad when we sat on the beach and spoke in lengths about my insecurities and what my past had done to me? You called me a strong woman. Now, to think of it, I’m realizing, maybe it left a hint that I’d process anything thrown at me. Did you just take the big fat step to leave me stranded for the roof to fall on my head? And, you thought, anyway, she’d handle it?
People around here usually warn me about the winter. They talk about the temperature going to minus 40 and they tell me to keep every step carefully because there’s black ice. Strangely, it reminds how you betrayed me. When my friends pointed out the red flags, I called it sunset. I convinced myself you’re not it. That you know how I have suffered and you’d not put me through the same. You did not just repeat the betrayal but you ensured to strip my capacity to love.
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I remember our last hug. I can feel your skin and scent even now. The thing is, I hugged you with all the love I ever had but you didn’t do the same. Did you think of her? Were you texting her when I was talking to you? I showed you the pictures of the puppy that would be in my stay place and I told you how I’m afraid about the whole change and you didn’t have the courtesy to inform me about the new lovely lady in your life? Worst of it, she being a friend of mine.
I convinced myself that you were busy enough to pick my calls. I assumed that the past hurts you enough that you removed yourself from our shared folders. I thought maybe one day you’ll send me a long email. I dreamt that you’d come all the way, crossing the seas to get a glimpse of me. All you did was to let me crumple and use me as a canvas to build your new life.
I tried processing this by just sharing the whole mess with a few friends and I was searching for words from them that would convince me that what you did is right. When one said the other woman is not that pretty anyway, I thought yes, he’s not someone who goes after looks. Do you see how stupid I am? Oh! Maybe, you did see it.
I’ve book recommendations that falls under self-help genre, I’ve a few dating apps on my phone, I’m reading a quote that says if Jennifer Anniston can get over Brad Pitt, so can you for a hundred million times but in vain. Why are you still the first and last thing I think in a day and all that’s in between? Memories umpteen and it adds weight like a personal trainer in the gyms would do to their clients. Do you think of me as much as I think of you? Do you have a fake profile to see an old picture on my Instagram and smile? Will you ever get in touch with any of my friends to check on my mental health?
Questions are all I have. Questions are all I will ever have – How can you live with what you did to me?

Lipsticks are for Bad Women

When I was Five, My uncle had come from Saudi Arabia, I was sitting across from him, He called me closer and gave me a little present, I unwrapped it and saw a green color lipstick, “Green?” I asked, clearly, disappointed. “This is a magic lipstick, when you wear it, it will turn red,” he said.

Next day, I was getting ready to school, Ponds powder and eyetex bindi, Black ribbons for my plaits, Uniform, White socks and shoes and a small white chalk piece to paint the brown spots fair, And some parachute oil to tame the frizz on my crown. All done. Then, I slowly picked that green lipstick and stroked it on my lower lips and it turned red. I smiled.

Then, someone grabbed the lipstick from my hand, my father, He walked swiftly to the balcony, threw the stick outside, turned to me and said “Lipsticks are for bad women,” and went away. And, I stood, holding the balcony grills and looking at that magic lipstick on the road.

When I was fifteen, My mom enrolled me into the math tuition that starts at 6:00 AM and I had only 2 salwar kameez, so, I wear them on alternative days, In weeks time, tuition mates asked why am I not wearing anything else, their eyes were glistening with mischief,

“You are going to tuitions to study and not for a fashion parade,” said my mother.

I vividly remember borrowing a bunch of colorful hairbands from a friend, I cannot wear them at home because questions, I would keep the bunch in a small pouch, hide it inside my bag, I will ride my cycle, go to the next street, I’d wear the hair band and smile.

Then my elder sister wanted company and took me to a parlor and asked, “hey! Do you wanna thread your brows and I said yes!” I cried because that was the first time I’m plucking my brows. It was painful. I cursed my sister. But, when it was over and when I looked at myself in the mirror, I felt pretty. But, also, I had to keep my eyes on the floor just so I don’t get caught. But, that wasn’t a big task of a thing because I am always expected to keep my head down because I am a woman.

Things slightly changed when I went to college though,

I had better clothes to wear. 5 of them. I had power and I wore glasses, so I do not have to wear Kajal you know, I used to tell my friends. Ok, I lied to my friends. Truth is, I was not allowed to wear anything makeup.

Hostel life though was a tad different, Four of us in a room with shelves assigned for each, I would see their shelves with deodorants and perfumes and lip-glosses but mine were plain, I would wait for them to leave, I would sneak, and take a little bit of those cosmetics to try, The orange of that lakme on my lips and the moral science about stealing something on my mind, The fragrance of a tommy Hilfiger perfume on my wrist and the values that my grandma taught via the Mahabharata and Ramayana story in my heart,

Whenever I ask that I want something so cosmetic at home, they’d say “It would attract boys!” or they’d blatantly ask “Whom are you trying to attract?”

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I grew up to understand that the world sees a man’s body as a vessel for one’s soul, But, a woman’s body though is not it. It is sexualized. I grew up to understand that the world sees a man’s clothes as civilization, But, a woman’s clothes are designed to just attract the male eye.

I was taught that women dress up to attract men, I was preached that women who dress up are bad women, who’d wear red lipsticks are sluts, and high heels are what porn stars wear.

I was forced to think that female sexuality is for everyone else except herself, I was forced to assume that female sexuality is required only when they want to please their partners,

A woman should know to dress enough to satisfy her male counterpart, be innocently seductive but not anything else.

But, then, I think I really grew up over the past decade, With life happening, love happening, social media and great bunch of friends and books, Trip to a different country and jumps to different companies, I sense a notable shift in my ideology,

Moral policing on social media is always on the high, I look at people commenting, Sleeveless clothes are not feminist’s tools, That, short skirts are not really empowering, Moreover, body hugging clothes – OMG! Is this even feminism?

Let me tell you something, When a person is not allowed to do something, if the reason is their gender, and if the person rebels against it, it is feminism.

There’s no said tabular column or match the following with a list stating what all fall under feminism and what doesn’t.

So, next time, when you have the urge to comment “Is this feminism?” or “Oh dear woman, you don’t even know what’s feminism. Torn clothes are not it,” or “revealing clothes is not feminism” or “what you’re wearing would invite rapists,” and sorts.

Take a white sheet of rectangular paper and write down your comments, Hold the top corners, bring them closer, and make a triangle, Flip it and fold it, Flip it again and fold it, Make a paper plane out of it. Keep it upright. 90 degrees. Take it down. Far below your crotch, Shove it up your ass and fuck off.