Last Walls is a partnership between Thiscene Media and If Walls Could Talk. Every week, organizer Melizarani T. Selva gives us one of her favorite poems from the last If Walls Could Talk and we put it up on the site.
This poem was performed at Poetically Correct: The Wanita Showcase, on Saturday, March 5, 2017. Poetically Correct @ Art For Grabs is a quarterly spinoff show by If Walls Could Talk.
Don’t Say The F Word
Don’t say the F word
At the dinner table
This is not some rowdy function.
Don’t say the F word.
It is distasteful,
We don’t want our guests to throw up.
I will not allow such behaviour at this table.
How dare you?
Are you listening?
Look at your cousin,
She would never do that.
Put your legs down.
Sit up straight.
You’re a woman,
You better start acting like one.
Tie your hair up.
What do you mean you’d rather cut it short?
Are you a boy?
Did I give birth to a son?
Stop saying the F word.
This is not a place for discussion.
Don’t bring your brother into this.
I told you to fold the clothes.
Why are you walking away?
I haven’t finished talking!
How are you going to have children?
You don’t know how to shut up.
No man will marry you.
What did I do to deserve a child like you?
I slam the door to my mother’s yells.
Why is every dinner the same?
There are days when mum yells,
“You want to get raped?”
When I ask to go out with my friends.
There are days when all I want is to confide in my mother,
But all she does is condemn me.
Making me feel dirty.
And I know it’s wrong but what can I say?
Mum pulls my skirt down,
Brushes my hair roughly,
Tugging at every wild strand
And every hair that is out of place on my body.
But I’m 16,
Head up in the clouds,
Mind on my books.
But my mother points at my flaws.
She doesn’t care if I’m going through puberty
She doesn’t want to hear the V word, the B word and the F word,
Doesn’t want to see me stand tall and proud in my skin.
Feeding me an unrealistic expectation of a woman’s body
And what can I do?
She’s my mother.
She scolds me for biting my nails,
Scowls at my unshaven thorny legs,
The smudges under my eyes,
My sweaty armpits.
How does it feel to have the patriarchy as your mother?
It doesn’t matter if I identify as a woman or not,
If my sexuality just means I’m being rebellious.
She leaves no place for self discovery,
She prefers I turn into a version of her that she could never reach.
I close my eyes, mutter a prayer—
Hope I’ll never turn into her.
All I want is to find a safe place in her arms.
And no matter how my mother’s words slice into me
I will die fitting into this person she wants me to be,
But how to be me?
When the word Feminism is treated like the word Fuck.
Anjali Venugopal is a filmmaker and painter who’s always ready to both swim and drown in her sorrows.