My amma did not raise me to be a poet, nor a feminist She asks, why are you a feminist?
Amma, when you’re raised in a household run by three women and one alcoholic, wife hitting father, you tend to notice certain things;
sooner or later, misogynistic comments do not go unpunished in my head.
Do you remember? At age seven, aunt bought me a Barbie doll instead of a G.I. Joe.
I was thrilled.
I was always more Barbie than Ken, I wanted the blonde hair, the red polyester dress , and I wanted to know what lays under that polyester dress.
At age ten, you start to think that, in a family comprising mostly of women, you need to pump your machismo, to the size of a hot air balloon that can block out the sun.
At age eleven, you puff out your Salman Khan inspired chest and try to intimidate the 50 year old creep looking at your aunt, while shopping for christmas.
At twelve, you realise what you call machismo, is what other people call man boobs, and for eternity, you will hate that kid in your class for pointing them out. (But why are man boobs frowned upon?)
At thirteen, you start despising some parts of your body for being too large, for always sticking out in crowds but paper clip small, in the hands of your father.
At fourteen, your wardrobe officialy changes, to layers of sweaters and always, always, a t shirt a size larger, the fear of being visually dissected by strangers while picking out groceries in the supermarket is shockingly rampant (Is it me or do you also think everybody else is staring at me? Do you think they are cutting off parts of me in their mind so that I can fit into their lives?)
At fifteen, you realise you live in a country where kissing another boy is illegal and you realise you were born to commit crimes. (How do you say you’re more into poetry than you’re into porn?)
At sixteen you discover feminism, waking up from hibernation or sprouting in your throat.
You can’t stop seeing what was not there a while ago, but it has always been there, in your kitchen, lounging in your living room even in your own mouth.
At seventeen when you’re asked to speak on a YouTube video about ‘what feminism means to you?’ you will want to run your mouth a hundred miles per hour but instead you stutter out the word feminism, as fenimism, and you run off.
At eighteen you’ve committed beautiful crimes so many times, how does it feel to be a criminal in seventy countries? Terrifying.
At nineteen, you call yourself a bad feminist after reading Roxanne Gay and write this poem to say feminism without stuttering, slowly getting ready to hold your boyfriend’s hand in public.
In this photograph taken on July 7, an Indian sexual minority community member gestures over a rainbow flag while participating in a Rainbow Pride Walk in Kolkata. By Dibyangshu Sarkar, AFP/Getty Images