1. The little kid and the woman he kept inside.
I wanted to write about that little kid who bloomed his own flower on his hand by practicing "Ma, I want to be a woman"
I remember being in the hands of my mother when she applied mehendi on her hands. She used to draw a moon on my hands and told me "This is who you are." Ma knew, I am learning to be kind like her, ma knew I want to hold that mehendi but was scared to convey, ma knew love has always been in my hands and yet never learned to touch it without aching in fear. Ma knew everything, yet we never talk about it.
"Ma, I want to wear your saree"
I want to write about that little kid who practiced walking with his hands on his waist because the first time he saw a movie, he thought about his pants to be a skirt twirling around his own home, where he wants his father to braid his hair.
Being a queer and loving your own father is a difficult picture because you want to tell him about yourself but you know, he was never nurtured with love. But today when I am away from him, he asks me if I ate properly, he asks me if I have enough clothes, he asks me if I am making friends and it makes me realise how we learn love with the absence of a person. Pa knows I miss him, pa knows I want to hug him and tell how beautiful of a man he is but pa, will you love me if I were your daughter?
"Pa I want you to braid my hair and put me kajal"
I want to write about that little kid who stole his sisters nail paint and practiced in his balcony because he wanted to fill the colors that were taken away. The kid, who loved pink, purple and red.
Sisters are a gift to a gay men because you know they'll hug you even if you tell them, you like flowers and earrings on you. I remember when my sister was born, I saw a girl who raised hope to me, who didn't pressurized me to walk in a certain way, who didn't ask me to behave like a man, who didn't push me to play with cars and gave me her Barbie. Ma used to tell, "I think I have two daughters in my house" and I smiled but I remember the jokes hounded by around people. I slipped that Barbie away because hate comes easy, love doesn't. But my sister hugged me because a woman senses another heart that is aching to be loved.
"Bacchu, gift me that pink color."
That little kid bloomed himself in his own hands, within the fists of his mother. That little kid had the mouth of a revolution, but ma, why couldn't the world love him?
[the little kid is now writing poems of the woman he could be.]
2. I never got to live my childhood.
I wake up with pain throbbing my
throat and every memory of abuse
lumps on my skin. I walk with cemented
memories of my trauma where a child
was not living, but surviving with
taps open in his bathroom to numb
his voices of help. My childhood was
a lie, a war where the bullets of pain
crossed through my heart like balloons
floating in the sky. My hands have the
bruises of playground where I was
pushed to stay for questioning
masculinity. When your mother isn't
proud of your choices as a child, you try
harder to win her back even it comes at
a cost to leave your truth in a locker.
The voices of my childhood screams at
me today, to go hug that child who was
always wanting to bid goodbye. The child,
who survived his own death from the hands
of society. Today, I eat my childhood trauma
in chunks to make myself believe
I have always been loved. I surround this
bubble around me, to not let my past
question my existence. But when does the
past ends, and when do I begin to live?
As a child, when I cried, my mother accuse
me for my own sadness, 'You always find
another wound to bleed' But ma, when
has ever anyone put a bandage to my
wounds? How do I let her believe that
I am losing out on time, and I don't know
if I will wake up the next day. So let me
hold that Barbie and go out wearing kajal
and unlock the self, you grew in your womb?
I was always an abandoned watch, that
stuck to a time loop. Today I question
every memory of my childhood, asking
if I ever got to live happily? How did I
come so far? Will I ever go home?
Mother, rebirth me, give me my childhood
back. I don't deserve the broken child
who was locked in a room with the chains
of masculinity. Mother, give me my self
back, for I will never forgive the places
you never bandaged me.
How to survive with the child who was
fighting a war with his silence?
[running around the corpse of his childhood.]
3. How do you say goodbye to a lover,
you dearly wanted to stay?
Grief sits with me in the kitchen of
my anxiety where I fear adding even a
pinch of love to men whose teeth whither
the skin sitting in the nest of longing
Yesterday night, when he calls me to
ask about my unfiltered anxiety attacks,
my heart pauses itself to let me remind
that he is not a love story, he is a half
spoken sonnet, left midway to choke
you with realization. He bids me goodbye,
every night as if I wont hear from him
again the next morning. I keep shivering
while reading goodbye from him, because
men had their doors around my chest to
leave whenever they tasted a pinch of
love in my lips. "Can you still make me
believe I am wanted even though,
you want to leave the next morning?”
I pluck love out of every flower in my
garden, and by the end I am left with
the deserted island where my blurry
eyes see another man offering a pond
to swim in. I know, by the time I rub my
eyes, it’ll be long gone but my heart says
"Maybe that’s the amount of love you
deserve, enjoy till you again curl up
yourself in bed and thinking to kill
yourself” Maybe, that’s what I am,
a lover destroying his own nest of
longing for someone to stay. The thought
that men have grown in me is I don’t
deserve the softness I keep in my palms,
I don’t understand the language of
heartbreaks. My body is just another war
I lose every night a man rip of my clothes
and leave the marks of suffering in me.
“How to take a bath in longing and clean
myself of the marks that reminds me of
nothing but death?” In the kitchen of my
anxiety, I cook another poem and feed
them to the people who call me nothing
but a poet. I know who writes poetry is
called a poet, but I write about a war
battling every night, plucking flowers
out of my garden of love. I write on men
who crawl on my belly, tangling their fingers
to burn inside me. I write for love to stay,
just for once because for me goodbyes
aren’t poetic. For me goodbyes are the
suffering of a lover who dearly wanted
someone to stay.
So tell me, am I poet or another love letter that didn’t reach to his lover amidst the war in his own kitchen?
[plucking flowers every night.]
Harshit Jalan is a 22-year-old poet who writes about queer identity and queer related issues. Their poems surround the issues that are not very voiced in the society. They like to read and their favorite writer is Ocean Vuong.