[Author’s note: I have written this poem based on an account narrated to me by my friend about how she spent one afternoon unwrapping her (sense of) self.]
My little shoulders carried a firm backpack with bent books in them, on my way to school.
While boys monkeyed around corridors, leisure period had us girls oscillating between classes and the washroom. To share a pocketful of toffees, we both snuck into an un-engaged boys’ washroom.
There, in a white cubicle, my third grade self, kissed her and threw the wrappers in a bin.
It wasn’t an epiphany, it wasn’t as distinct a memory to wake up to… or come out to, it was as natural as falling back asleep in a place I never left and that never left me. I never desired or expected acceptance so it was easier to think of myself as different and to call it a day.
Just another coloured toffee in a pocket of thy self- it said to me. I always felt foreign amidst garden flowers and different because of how I gulped my annam pappu (dal rice). Poo sessions excited me as it was the only place, I would be alone. I’d think endlessly as my hands hammocked my face.
My childhood could be summed up as me being the teapot from our nursery rhyme… I could shout and shout with no one to “tip me over and pour me out”. I could make do with brimming over. I couldn’t help but compartmentalize, recluse myself among peers and family while my dandelion thoughts traced themselves, through and within. While my fear spoke to God, after I would hear spooky tales of “morale” … I feared having exciting thoughts, lest I am charred for being horny, in hell.
I am 21 now, my best friend calls me a loved conch, covered by sand even when placed on washed rocks. Maybe this means that I have bits of silence that are loud. I never had to tell my veins of the blood that ran through them. It’s fair to say that things turned out well in terms of my sexual orientation, talks about it should have helped a lot. This is also something I want to continue to bring to the future and all those that inhabit all places, warmth, and words.
When I kissed her, she didn’t feel any different? It didn’t feel like I was kissing a girl, not a boy.
It just seemed like kissing. It went on for a little while, the first few kisses of my life in the boys’ washroom that was being renovated, and when I came back home, I had the usual annam pappu.
While I watched cartoons. We’re still going to be different from each other, and that’s the only place we can ever find to be.
While researching sexual orientations a few years ago, I found myself checking off one too many on the list of labels. And that led me to a chain of questions-
“maybe I am just fluid”
“does it even matter?”
“did anything about yourself ever matter enough for you to label it?”
I don’t think I owe anyone a label, I don’t feel the necessity to have myself.
It is liberating for some to know themselves to a T and it is liberating for some to know themselves in the not knowing, to only swim between variables with the only constant being – wherever love gives and receives. It’s free. Love, to me, needs to be more about a person regardless of gender or sexuality; even if both were to change over time, love will always be there regardless.