Rebel: A Poem About Making my Own Choices as a Woman


by Vaishnavi 

The first time my sister got a piece of
Glass in her ankle, I sat there looking at
It till the blood stopped dripping.

My 7-year-old eyes were amused at
The immense amount of red fluid
Quietly doodling on the ground,
The shape of her ankle printed on white bandages,

Blood has always fascinated me,
It was obvious that my intrigue only grew when
I found blood building fortresses in my
Inner thighs,

And quickly it felt unholy when
On the roof, in between the clothes
That were clinging carelessly to ropes,
My mother whispered the tale of its heritage in my
11-year-old ears,

She mumbled like a sin,
I heard like a sinner,
I felt my heart clinging loosely to my chest
To the ribs, louder and louder, until the clothes
Fell off the ropes and I couldn’t pick them up
Because that meant dirtying more
Clothes than just my school uniform,

I wanted my heart to stop, to stop
Pumping blood, so passionately, so with
Care, so much that I felt dirty in between my legs,
Taking the word “periods” out loud,
Some said, was my first sign of rebellion.

The second, though, came soon after that,
An open mouth, how much can I fit
In an open mouth, before I purge
Or I gulp, when do I twist my tongue
Into various shapes before it forgets
How words taste like,

I have always been told to talk
Quietly, loud voices wake people up,
Aren’t they sleeping a lot longer
Than they have to,

I couldn’t keep them quiet inside my head,
I can’t make them shush now.

The last rebellion was learning a
Phenomenon, a taboo in my house,
A “no” beneath bed sheets behind
Latches, above law, like
Signatures under a marriage certificate,

I was never taught “no,”
And you never learnt it,
Two syllables armed to the teeth,

It is a little burp after a
Delightful meal, a glass of wine,
And a few cigarettes, it’s not for you
To stare at a few dozen times and
To think a woman of my courtesy
Isn’t a woman of choice.

[Read More: To The Tourism Minister of India: Women Can Dress Themselves]

Vaishnavi - HeadshotVaishnavi is a 19-year-old currently studying English literature at the University of Delhi. Reading and writing poetry, street theater, and books are a crucial part of her life. You can follow her on her blog or on Facebook



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