a space for youth writing on mental health & identity
a space for youth writing on mental health & identity
[content warning: death, depression, minor sexual content]
My mum once said that ‘a house is constructed but a home is crafted’. Within these years of my life, I have tried to knit, sketch, ramble or even clatter my words, my version of it with different yarns on the same piece of cloth having this line pre-inscribed. I feel that by the day I would die, I can find that cloth as a stone over my head, as a resting structure with plants growing all around supplying me with fresh oxygen, which I won’t be alive to inhale! Plants are my mom’s love. They have occupied almost every nook at the corner balcony. I wonder how they cook their own food there, when sunlight during every part of the year is so dim. Perhaps the rains aren’t scanty enough. They don’t get disturbed by the constant trickling water from the old cooler and the grunting sewerage pipes, their offensive smell.
Their growth isn’t bothersome, they are living. It’s out of my principles to throttle someone who is breathing. But what about me? Breathing to survive somehow. I stand there on the corner balcony, where the sun doesn’t melt my skin. I don’t like its kiss. I stand there and scratch my breasts with summery rashes on them. They are like ringlets, florets. But they are hidden underneath my lacy lingerie. They make me sweat. I am like melting plastic in a warehouse.
We have doors fitted with mosquito nets. The sun rays falling on my feet and the furry blanket appears like a sieve. A type of meshwork. I am fond of words and articulation. When I speak them, my tongue rolls, my lips widen and saliva comes out. I realized a few days before when I stood in front of the mirror that when I speak such words, I look ugly, my face twists, I sound pompous and my big cheeks swell up. I wasn’t told by anyone that I look really bad. But it makes the existing ugly a little beautiful. When I say that blood clotting in my heart is like cherry red, it sounds aesthetic. It scaffolds in the pain. My granny is proud of the fact that she is inexpressive. She never proclaims, the word she uses for her abilities to tolerate illness instead of treating them. When I asked ‘then why do you rub the clove oil on the aching cavities or chew the clove with your brittle molars?’ She would reply back with a single word home-remedy. I show her the compositions of the pills, it’s written clove and eucalyptus oil but she indicates at the preservatives note wearing my grandfather’s spectacle that makes her eyes even more hazy. I like to take pills when there’s some cause, I don’t like vitamins, weight loss or beauty pills. I don’t hide any disease. I know that some diseases are incurable because there’s no medications for it and some diseases don’t flare out through symptoms. They are like cuscuta plants. They are green but have flapping mouths with velcro linings to stick insects, they are parasites in disguise. Some realizations are treated like diseases. Is it the disease of worker bees that don’t have egg sacs in them like the queen does?
Home remedies are like luminous fishes in a stagnant lake. They sparkle crisply in quick successions after their need becomes a requisite.
This has made me wonder if a home is kind of a manufacturing unit for everything. It can cure, stitch, embroider things very finely. As if nothing has happened. I sometimes pretend to be happy in a house. People posting pictures of indigo and orange skies are like the new kings of art. I haven’t asked them if they wake up early to click pictures or if they just share it as part of their lives, bitter-sweet. It’s their status, displayed on my screen and then flashes before my eyes as an inspiration that I should inculcate it as a hobby to stay happy, and solace myself that I should be happy because it is meant to make me happy.
The balcony where I stand and imagine things has an unclear outlook. It’s on earth but looks at the ‘use me’ where everything is rotting. The frequent cricket ball passes on requests of children but it doesn’t disturb me. Why do I stand there? I sometimes ask myself this question. I look at the washed clothes drying on a wire like thing, clipped together. After some months I might find their colors fading away. There is some lingerie hanging down. I don’t know when their brands have started bothering me. I don’t know about the facets of branded lingerie but their fancy tags wear out when the detergent seeps down as scum. But I want the lingerie that I wear to hug me tightly. But this wasn’t my preference back in school. I wore bloomers and spaghettis back then. My home has made me rethink about womanhood pounding my doors. Will I ever feel sun kissed and wear nose pins, I don’t know! Even I don't even know what womanhood is. Is it being like my mother, is it being interested in lingerie, is it looking at kisses scientifically, is it accepting menses as a part of my body or is it running a home or crafting it with someone beloved out of a house? I’m not comfortable discussing this with anyone. My values have made me more apprehensive of womanhood. But I have enjoyed being a part of women, when I got reserved seats in local yellow buses. I’m often told that it’s sinful to elope with lovers, more sinful for a girl than a boy. I have actually seen a guy, ogling at my back, the time when I felt I should’ve been more careful. I could have covered it or I could have asked that person to behave properly or I could have slapped him like in movies. But I drove back to my house, those newspaper headlines were ripping my valor, my defiance.
My parents never told me the act of courage that I have portrayed, except once when they thought I would start crying when I slipped from my mother’s lap. But actually, I didn’t. When my purple bougainvillea fell down from my hands on the floor, then it was unacceptable for me. I was consoled by a six-year-old who trampled on the flower and as a part of his sorry hymn, “it’s a paper flower.” I was trying to pick that up, standing twenty feet taller than the flower on the balcony. I would have dashed down, my life would have folded like a paper, floating on a sea as a paper boat where my ashes post funeral would be having been immersed or a paper rocket flying into the clouds, when the funeral fumes would have erupted out of a sorrowful montage. The trees planted on the balcony would have converted those fumes into something useful for a ragpicker inhaling burning polythene every day.
The days when I’m not surmounted with new dos or the older ones hammering the loose nuts on my backbone, I take an old shawl. The sheep have new hairs growing naturally over their body and even shearing doesn’t hurt them. Sometimes I feel it’s good to sleep naked. I was told not to be carefree about my body after I bled on the white sofa covers. Within a few months I started developing something or the other. Since that day I have never caressed and felt my body, as a bliss or a gift or the new changes that have hardened the baby-soft skin into tough and resistant. I’m going to trail throughout my life with a wide and curvy body. When I forget the new fleshy garment on my skeleton and behave like a butterfly or flutter under the bed lamp as a big moth I’m reprimanded. These changes have set me apart into a separate group. An architect might have found a plan for women’s bodies. I kissed my best friend in a labyrinth in the backyards of my school. When we drew apart, she smiled widely. I had touched her body and found them similar to my own. My lips were shivering. I couldn’t say to anyone that she had bit my flesh. I knew that homes have couples of opposite sexes. Could I build a home with someone wearing the same undergarments? I haven’t told anyone about this incident. I have retold it to myself standing on the same balcony. I couldn’t love a boy any day. I have seen my father with a beard and heard those children in school with deep voices developed very unusually. I am a student of biology and have often been mocked at saying that I might have studied intercourse! They don’t even complete the sentence.
The girl who kissed me not very sexually is somewhere, I don’t know. I didn’t know if kisses are succeeded by homes. The homes must have kids and the kids should be principled and gendered. I believed in stereotypes and couldn’t disbelieve for a long time as they are very deeply layered. They come with a hint of terror in them. I believe that childbirth is easier than walking alone at midnight. When I feel like I should really look for someone with whom I can talk about things that prick me, I am reminded of every quintessential sexual coming along with it. My parents walk apart in disgust when I take up these issues or when I first pronounced the word ‘vagina’ aloud. When I am tired of spoken word poetry I want a partner. A person. I don’t think about which moustache, beard, shorts, tunics, bra or vests will suit that person, or whether that human is porcelain or expresso! A person should have a heart to cup gently a sinking soul. Would kiss my face to shed warmth.
I have rested my throbbing head on the sliding windows of my balcony. My hair looks coffee brown. I look golden and my hands have shadows all over them. I don’t look human. I am a living being with just a beating heart and a sound health. If that would be my identity, then I would love to carry it forward.
I don’t hate my household. But they don’t accept everything I talk about. So I nod my head and stay quiet. There’s a strange comfort in keeping calm amidst everything buzzy. I am not a God’s child. Neither I’m trying to be one. I really want the lovers to reunite. I think we are all same in the way what composes our body. I like to live. But if life is not like an iceberg, then I would be in love with it. I’m not able to get rid of prickly heat and rashes. My mother has advised me to unhook my bra but to not undress myself. I do that. I was eating ice cream and it melted somewhere inside I didn’t know. When I cleaned my clothes, I saw that it dried on a spot between my chest and belly. It’s my abdomen, I knew the kidneys exist there and so are my ovaries and so are people’s testis. But I have never used the word abdomen more than I use the word stomach.
Yesterday I wanted to push myself into the cartoons of Coca-Cola. They were lying soggy after a refreshing rainfall. I used to act like a boozehound while drinking cola. Inside the cartoons in a variety shop over a plastic fridge of cold drinks, a cat had given birth to a kitten. The kitten sucked the milk. I saw the cat licking the baby’s body. She cozied the little one within her arms and was asleep. I was shocked that she didn’t observe its genitals.
I don’t like to box myself. Myself is a thick dotted mark on my belly and my preferences. I sit under the banyan tree, it’s fruits smelling like a mixed fruit squash. It gives me shade. I remove the buttons of my shirt so that the sweat can dry out. Standing all alone in the balcony, sometimes makes me think about the day I would close my eyes, or my body gets paralyzed then what would happen! The balcony would look the same, full of plants and greenery. The clothes will dry and the Montessori will have children, gendered but free as birds. Some might feel the lack of confirmation, they might find their body a weed in a farm of maize. I might be dwelling somewhere, looking at mules carrying weights on mountains, or creatures swallowing their own eggs, but nests remaining intact on branches. Plastics degrade on hay stacks and hermaphrodites in the soil eating metals and polyethene rapidly as if the landfill would turn fertile within months!
* = Editors' Choice work
Unless otherwise noted, all pictures used are open-source images in the public domain.