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 unibrow is one of the poems i wrote out in punjab. observing the women, i admired the beauty of their dark skin, their thick hair, their almond eyes outlined with kajal, their long sharp noses, their wide hips and strong hands. all the features i once hated about myself. our women are beautiful, it's just that western beauty standards convinced us otherwise. i think our thick dark hair is something that unites all us south asian women. adore your body, every sprout of hair, every chocolate stretch of skin, and even if you decide to make some changes that's fine too, just make sure to truly love every single part of you.    #bodypositive   #loveyourself   #unibrow   #hair   #india   #punjab   #indianhair  #poetry   #poem

unibrow is one of the poems i wrote out in punjab. observing the women, i admired the beauty of their dark skin, their thick hair, their almond eyes outlined with kajal, their long sharp noses, their wide hips and strong hands. all the features i once hated about myself. our women are beautiful, it's just that western beauty standards convinced us otherwise. i think our thick dark hair is something that unites all us south asian women. adore your body, every sprout of hair, every chocolate stretch of skin, and even if you decide to make some changes that's fine too, just make sure to truly love every single part of you. 

#bodypositive #loveyourself #unibrow #hair #india #punjab #indianhair#poetry #poem



Fingertips

I'm squeezing the tips of my fingertips just to confirm that this is real.
And before I tip into an abyss of loving you and we shake on a deal.
Before we get down to business,
I just want to confirm that I'm not alone in this.

I'm terrified because this is too good to lose. Too good to be true?
It's just that this is first time I haven't been comforted by someone's abuse. 
Can I bottle this up and put it up on a shelf where no one else can reach it.
Because this kind of love, no one can teach it.

I know this journey isn't going to be simple perfection.
But I just need to know you and I are going in the same direction. 
I need to know you're going to take the wheel when I'm losing control.
I just need to know we have the same fire to alight to the same goal.
Are we going to be equals, a team in this relationship?
And not an ancient settlement based on some kind of ownership.

I know I'm not easy, I'm sure you could find a girl that would be no trouble.
But I hope you know that I have the kind of love that could make mountains from rubble.
And I'd climb to its peak if that's where you need me.
I'd do it a thousand times over if that what it need be. 
Even if my feet were to bleed I'd continue to climb. 
I'd do everything for you if you were mine.
I'd read your every emotion as if it were headlines.
And just so you know, we'll be playing Street Fighter way past bedtime.

I wasn't the princess in a tower to be saved, waiting for you to arrive. 
I was more of the fire breathing dragon, burning the so called 'Prince Charmings' alive. 
You made me so uncomfortable because I wasn't used to what you were giving me. 
Made my voice feel valid and never dismissing me.
Even if I pushed you away you gave me patience like nobody else.
Because you knew I had to build my power all by myself. 

I used my ribs as cages around my heart so I could protect it.
I built walls so high but you never wrecked it.
You simply made a door and stepped right in.
Which has left me in awe every night ever since. 
You came out of nowhere and knocked me to the ground
And now it stings like paper cuts on my heart when you aren't around. 
I didn't know you could stop my anxiety attacks with a kiss. 
I didn't know you noticed when I fiddled with my hands and wrists. 
So now I thank your family for raising a man I didn't think could exist. 

But now I want to wake up knotted up in your morning warmth.
I want to see the sunrise behind you so that when you wake you are blinded by its reflection in my eyes.
I never want to go to bed angry, lets always communicate and compromise.
I want to wrap myself in your arms like a cocoon till we burst like the butterflies in my stomach every time you tell me that I'm powerful. 

I know I'm a handful.
But I promise I will keep your hands full of all the hopes and dreams that we can achieve.
You give me almost every reason possible to believe,
That my flaws and scars hidden under what I wear for the world do not make me weak. 
I might not always going to be that brave woman that you first saw on that November stage. 
I'll always be powerful, but I cry a lot, I'm needy, I'm vulnerable and sometimes have some mad crazy bitch rage.

And you know I don't need roses.
I just want the thorns hidden in your deepest darkest depth to dig into me so I can really feel you.
I want the good, the bad and the ugly. I want the real you. 
I want to travel through your thoughts like the lands you've traveled to.
I want us to challenge each other's minds, teach things we never knew. 

I don't need you to say those three words to prove it.
I just need you to just do it.
People say it all the time, so easily spoken and so easily heard
But I need your actions to speak louder than words
And hopefully right now you can see in my eyes
What I sometimes find so hard to verbalise
Because those brown eyes have got me hypnotised, maybe we should give it a try?
I think I want to fall in love.
I think I want to fall in love.
Because right now
I'm squeezing the tips of my fingertips just to confirm that this is real.
And before I tip into an abyss of loving you and we shake on a deal.
Before we get down to business,
I just want to confirm that I'm not alone in this.


maybe?

maybe i'm so used to speaking in question marks because i hope they will wait till the end of my sentence before i get cut off.

and maybe the continuous apologetic tone and ums and ahs and maybes come from a language of always being sorry for my gender. 

sorry for my thoughts, sorry for my decisions, sorry for my opinions. maybe?







 Red House  I tighten my fists in hope that I could crawl into the small space they hold Fall into darkness I lay on the floor, staring up at the rice paper lamps that still hang They call us the comfort women But my every inch feels uncomfortable Raw Torn Ripped like the pages of the women of China, Korea and here in the Philippines We are the forgotten We are the red silk fantasies floating around in that red house "After the war, no one wanted to live here. They were too scared."  Afraid to hear the screams that still whisper in the crumbling blood-red villa The memories of the atrocities committed inside fail to fade We managed to escape to a western horizon, but nothing can soothe the flames The burn The rose thorns pressed into my thighs.  "I was really struggling because I didn't want my clothes to be stripped off. I kept my legs together, tightly crossed. After I did that, they punched my thighs so that they could do what they wanted."  Those evil sweat-necked night birds devoured my seeds  But one day I will open my fists and my bones will fly past the temple of a thousand sighs Past the red canopy and those whose screams turn to glass and shatter into the night sky.

Red House

I tighten my fists in hope that I could crawl into the small space they hold
Fall into darkness
I lay on the floor, staring up at the rice paper lamps that still hang
They call us the comfort women
But my every inch feels uncomfortable
Raw
Torn
Ripped like the pages of the women of China, Korea and here in the Philippines We are the forgotten
We are the red silk fantasies floating around in that red house
"After the war, no one wanted to live here. They were too scared." 
Afraid to hear the screams that still whisper in the crumbling blood-red villa
The memories of the atrocities committed inside fail to fade
We managed to escape to a western horizon, but nothing can soothe the flames
The burn
The rose thorns pressed into my thighs. 
"I was really struggling because I didn't want my clothes to be stripped off. I kept my legs together, tightly crossed. After I did that, they punched my thighs so that they could do what they wanted."

Those evil sweat-necked night birds devoured my seeds

But one day I will open my fists and my bones will fly past the temple of a thousand sighs
Past the red canopy and those whose screams turn to glass and shatter into the night sky.


  Henna patterns wrapped around her wrists like handcuffs It was too late for her to stand up Her fate has been decided All the guests have been invited She has a slight smile on her face, not too much they said, just tilted ever so slightly to the side As if her smile is beginning to fall off her face, congratulations to our new bride Tonight, wipe the tears before the blood dries, they said  White sheets, leave some proof amongst his bed  They said, scars will heal but shame never fades away  We’ve saved our izzat, lets celebrate  She was a mail-order bride, her parents licked the envelope and put the stamp on Don’t ride bikes, be careful of how you sit, don’t use tampons That’s how little girls lose their virginity they said. White sheets, leave some proof amongst his bed  Her parents are her protectors, they should be trusted She was 16, GCSEs done and dusted.  Educated girls can earn a bigger dowry you know. But don’t get too smart though Now she has satin pinned to her skin Women commenting that she’s looking too thin She’s barely grown into her body, what do you expect Now she sits upon a fake throne, their perfect object Her lengha tied so tight you’ll never hear her scream Maybe when it’s done she’ll still have some of the night left to dream She danced and danced in circles till the tears came It won’t be long till her school friends forget her name  By the time they finish their degrees she’ll be on her third child No time to waste, give her in-laws a grandchild  Because she will have to let him come but he will never leave  Flatten the ridges of her spine till she can barely breathe  Tonight, wipe the tears before the blood dries, they said  White sheets, leave some proof amongst his bed  They said, scars will heal but shame never fades away  We’ve saved our izzat, lets celebrate.     #childmarriage   #childbrides   #childbride  #forcedmarriage   #GirlsNotBrides


Henna patterns wrapped around her wrists like handcuffs
It was too late for her to stand up
Her fate has been decided
All the guests have been invited
She has a slight smile on her face, not too much they said, just tilted ever so slightly to the side
As if her smile is beginning to fall off her face, congratulations to our new bride
Tonight, wipe the tears before the blood dries, they said
White sheets, leave some proof amongst his bed
They said, scars will heal but shame never fades away
We’ve saved our izzat, lets celebrate
She was a mail-order bride, her parents licked the envelope and put the stamp on
Don’t ride bikes, be careful of how you sit, don’t use tampons
That’s how little girls lose their virginity they said.
White sheets, leave some proof amongst his bed
Her parents are her protectors, they should be trusted
She was 16, GCSEs done and dusted. 
Educated girls can earn a bigger dowry you know.
But don’t get too smart though
Now she has satin pinned to her skin
Women commenting that she’s looking too thin
She’s barely grown into her body, what do you expect
Now she sits upon a fake throne, their perfect object
Her lengha tied so tight you’ll never hear her scream
Maybe when it’s done she’ll still have some of the night left to dream
She danced and danced in circles till the tears came
It won’t be long till her school friends forget her name
By the time they finish their degrees she’ll be on her third child
No time to waste, give her in-laws a grandchild
Because she will have to let him come but he will never leave
Flatten the ridges of her spine till she can barely breathe
Tonight, wipe the tears before the blood dries, they said
White sheets, leave some proof amongst his bed
They said, scars will heal but shame never fades away
We’ve saved our izzat, lets celebrate. 


#childmarriage #childbrides #childbride#forcedmarriage #GirlsNotBrides


One Soul

They say, you've been writing a lot of love poems lately
But that's just because I can't seem to be done describing it
Your love I mean
I'm putting syllables together like unsung lullabies
Like I'm sitting here trying to understand something in hieroglyphics
Something that sounds like birds and gods
I read you from left to right and right to left but I still can't grasp it
It's like it's taunting me
Set me alight and burning me like the fire of stars
But let my eyes burn last so that the last thing I see is that smile
Yes, that smile
Surely, you must have tattooed yourself to my tongue because you're all I seem to talk about
Permanently
Eventually you'll feel as if there are post it notes all over your day because not for one second will I let you forget that I love you
You make me breathless
But for you I'd learn how to expand my lungs so I can breathe all of you in
I want you to hold me so damn close that I can breathe in your memories
Cocooned in to the safety of your chest for life
That one life
That one promise
So until God calls one of us home please promise me you and I are going to live together in that one soul
Intertwined into that one soul


 #refugeeweek

#refugeeweek


 #bodypositivity 

#bodypositivity 






Chameleon

I hide my east london accent neatly under my tongue when they need me to be fancy.

Conform.

Transform.

I'm torn,

Between tucking my blouse into my high waisted skirt and hiding my converses under my bed.

Because they said,

If I pretend that my first home wasn't on top of a corner shop,

Then maybe I'll get the job.

We didn't know somebody who knows somebody.

We didn't know the lingo.

Bingo, this is cultural capital.

The assets that make it such a battle for a working class family to make it up the ladder.

Because my style of speech seems to make me badder.

Excuse me, inadequate.

I guess this is what they call the devils advocate.

It's not quite fair but it's what I have to do to make it through this sticky jungle called social mobility.

What a pity.

 



Baaz

Only the sun knew what was about to happen as the clouds cloaked the sky,
He watched them gather from the corner of his eye.
Some whispered it’s just a show, a magician, a trick, a circus,
Little did they know that falcons were to be born so ferocious.
The threads of our history were about the spin,  
The fibers of our essence were about to begin,
Our silk was about to flow.

On the soil of Kesgarh in sixteen ninety nine,
On the corners of history’s horizon rose sparks of an eternal shine.
A day where all people of all castes stood up and were equal to Kings, truly regal,
The moment where Guru Gobind Singh turned sparrows into soring eagles.
Close your eyes and imagine the sky on that day, eagles with their wings ready to soar,
The day we found the meaning of a true Singh and a Kaur.
They have blood of resilience, they tower like trees,
They are the hurricanes amongst the stormy seas.

This was the day that we realised the power of panj – Five.
The five banai, we listen, we read, they make us feel alive.
The five Ks, the pure devotion, the power, the strive.
The day that the five showed us that we are all one.
The Panj Pyare - Five Beloved ones.

The Guru stands, Kirpan in hand, a symbol of justice and grace,
With humility in his heart and compassion on his face.
To the songbird Guru singing words from above,
His heart overflowing with the nectar of love.
He calmly calls upon the Sangat at the alter of Seva and Naam
Sacrifice of lives I seek, Come, O Sikhs, with hands on palm!
Then five rise, one by one bowing to the Nanak tenth,
The Guru's chosen Panj Pyare, the nucleus of the Khalsa Panth.

It was here that Rabab, Kirtan and Kirpan would begin merge.
Through Miri Piri, through word and sword would begin to surge.
Watering the Guru’s message in our hearts all the same
To go and help humanity in God's name.

The Khalsa was formed.
The Khalsa was born.


Que sera

When I was just a little girl,
I asked my mother, "What will I be?
Will I be pretty? Will I be rich?"
Here's what she said to me.. 

Fuck being pretty.
Fuck being rich. 

Not quite Que sera, sera.
I won't wait for whatever will be, to be.
I want to be made for all the things bigger than me. 
I don't want to continue to see women around me shrinking themselves for the entrance of the men in their lives. 
Making space for them. 
Boys are taught to grow out but we have been taught to grow in.
I saw my mother have smaller meals for too many years so I could have more. 
She sacrificed so much so I could try every door. 
My father fed me books and encyclopaedias at tea time.
He said if I wanted it, the whole world could be mine. 
So, young girls, feed your minds till you grow into the spaces that our shrinking mothers couldn't reach. 
Let pretty and rich be number two, let number one be what they teach.


Boobs, Bumps & Blood

boobs

cleavage gleaming,
because
they're allowed
for selling.
car ads,
aftershave maybe
but
for feeding
they seemed
to be yelling.

disgusted.

make a profit
from my parts.
have them bursting
at the seams.
but a hint of nipple
on instagram
seems to
be getting
screams.

indecent.

i won't
apologise if
my areola
offends you.
i don't
need to
befriend you
or your
objectification.

call it
'disturbing the peace'
call it
'lewd behaviour'
call it
'public indecency'
but
i don't see
why a mother
should feed
her child
in secrecy.

it's over.

we are done
agreeing
obediently.

bumps

why do you
use the word
female
as a noun?
so all that makes
me worth while
is my description.
the adjectives
added to me.

conditioned to
criticise our creases
as if they
are diseases.

slim and trim this,
tighten and tuck that.
but not too much
because
you need curves.
they want that.

they?

since when
was my existence
made for a man?
oh man oh man
oh man oh man.

want to cover
me up in make up,
oh but not
too much
because then
i'm fake with it.

wait a minute.

i'll wear all
that i like
or nothing
at all.
i don't need
to paint on my
smile to
show i'm happy
with it all.

i learnt
to love
me.

every inch.


blood

i would
sneak my
sanitary towels
in the house
as if they
were drugs.

what the f...

i would
sneak my
sanitary towels
in the house
as if they
were drugs.

babies are
expected
of me.
but my monthly
madness isn't
an open conversation.

keep that
behind
closed doors
or closed legs.
crossed legs.

rouge on
my jeans,
my thighs are
blushing like
my cheeks
with the
embarrassment.

ashamed of
the stains
on my
covers as if
i committed
murder.

scrubbing the
evidence
in secret.

all that
we're killing
is a young girls
self worth.
as long as
they can
provide a
healthy birth.

right?

and now
i'll serve
my time.
one week.
once a month.
a life sentence.


Man up son.

You need to toughen up now, peace isn't what you're seeking, 
son.
I'm telling you, war is the language you should be speaking, 
son. 

You're not standing tall enough, shoulders straight, chest out, 
son. 
And any less than winning then you ain't the best, 
son.

Femininity and masculinity are apparently partners in crime, 
son. 
So we need to lock up those feelings quick time, 
son. 

It doesn't matter if you're physically competent and spiritually mismatched,  
son. 
As long as you're feeling emotionally detached, 
son. 

I don't want you feeling regret or remorse, you better be saving face, 
son. 
Every deck that you're packing needs to be holding an ace, 
son. 

I don't want to ever catch you crying like girl, 
son. 
Forget patience, you better catapult into the world, 
son. 

And when it comes to girls, you know how it should be, 
son.
She's there to serves you, lowered on her knees, 
son.

I'm your example, just see how I treat all my baby mothers, 
son. 
I'm saying it's alright to have on the side a few others, 
son. 

I'm saying grow a pair, don't want to be acting gay, 
son. 
Man up, I'm your role model, so follow what I say, 
son.


If a poet loves you.

If a poet loves you, you can definitely bet that you have never ever been as beautiful as you will be through their eyes. You will have never known that the edge of your jaw was worthy of poetry, or the curve of your smile or the strength in your shoulders. But if they love you, they will turn you into a poem. You will be made immortal by the power of their words. That's more than definite.

If a poet loves you, don't always take our words to heart, but sometimes please do. What we write might not always be literal. Do not assume our poetry means what it says, it could mean the opposite. Scribbling I hate you in my notebook might mean I flipping love every ounce of your existence. I'll try my hardest to be as clear as day with you but be assured you'll be risking madness trying to figure it out.

If a poet loves you, be fully aware that anything you say or do can be held against you in the court of my law. I'm kidding. Or not. What I mean is, I will want to write you into life. I will be so damn perceptive it might leave you in awe. I'll pick up on any hint of sadness in the tone of your voice or how your eyes will tell me when you haven't had enough sleep. Be aware that I will remember every single thing about you. My mind will never want to forget any part of your making. I'm just saying that the warmth of your breath on my skin will be enough to make anthologies.

If a poet loves you, you should know there might be a lot of pain in their words. And every time the tip of that pen spills on the blank pages it could be saving them. The stories could be little pieces of heaven or little pieces of hell and you'll be going on that journey with them. So just so you know, even if someone tried to tie up their tongues they will somehow unravel a sound of poetry for their survival.

So if a poet loves you, run as far as possible whilst you can, or.. buckle up.


#hashtagthis

Since when did my interior become inferior to my exterior. 
You and I both know that when it comes to the latter, it’s the only thing in their mind that matters. 
I am just a cog in the system. 
In a land that is known as our Great Britain.
Most of us walk around numb and blind. 
Desensitised to the woes of mankind. 
Obsessed with the likes and retweets on social media.
Trying to fit into someone else’s flawless criteria. 
It’s exhausting. 
It’s almost haunting. It scares me to a sickened understanding.
The consumerism, the materialism and all that branding.
Forget about defining me by who I am, my intelligence and all that I know.
Just judge me now on who I know and what I own. 
In a time where we are so quick to judge and compare.
So bothered by everyone else’s rumours and affairs.
Where our egos and our greeds are so quick to take charge. 
That we ignore all the pressing issues at large. 
Now that the pound has more value than friends and our family. 
Forget truth, love, faith and all that originality.
Please #hashtag me some freedom on Instagram, Twitter or my Facebook page.
How else will we survive in this new technological age? 
Do you sense my rage?
I’m watching a government that seems to have enough money for bombs and for war.
But forget teachers, doctors, nurses, oh and forget feeding the poor. 
Forget brutality, inequality and senseless violence.
Forget all those in far away places that must suffer in silence.
A time where mental health issues are still pushed aside. 
Because the only pain that matters is what’s on the outside. 
A world where innocent children are still victimised. 
Those at the top saying freedom of speech should be criminalised.

So please stop, think, reflect and feel. 
Before they convince you that your every essence isn’t real.


Ajit Singh - 

from Sanskrit (a) "not" and जित (jita) "conquered".

I see the veins on your hands
come closer to the surface.
I’m nervous. 
I sit by you. 
Imagining the untold stories
that flow within them. 

I watch you inhale
and exhale the taste of survival. 
A strength built since arrival. 
Tattoo’d into your lungs.
A lost linger of exile living at the constant rate of breath.

A village boy
with ambition in his eyes.
Afraid.
But you tried.
Rolling into a rat race
Not knowing a word of their speech.
Determined not to lose the language of your ancestors,
Or forget the prayers that you preached.

I think about the drops of
non stop rain and storms
that must have weathered you.
We never knew. 
The way their words would attempt to rub the colour off of you. 

Eventually you learnt a second tongue. 
But your heartbreak remained unsung until your family could be with you. 
Yet still afraid and
so young.
It took many years till your rewards could be sewn.
Days and nights
in factories
with destinations unknown. 

Eventually you became hyphenated:
British-Indian.
But in no way has that divided
the essence of your roots
Or
Separated you from the hard work, blood, sweat and tears
and territorial disputes.
You conquered a land that conquered your bloodline. 
It’s a thin line
Between giving up, going back and the finish line.

You set the foundations to
our existence.
You passed that power to my parents
and encouraged their
self-subsistence.
Continuing to give your name justice.

You now sit by your radio
Dhaari long and white
And defined by every strand. 
Your skin still rich with the colour of your home land. 
I smell tea and biscuits.
Reading the news; today’s paper in hand. 
But your stories remain untold
Because they will
never understand.


End of the Tunnel.

What can we do when we raise our voice for humanity and truth but our throats are strangled.
Silenced.

I see a light at the end of tunnel. 
A state that allows us to live in our own peace and harmony. 
But I’m standing on the platform watching that iron beast crush it’s passengers.

Gripping on to my ticket of freedom and sovereignty but the smoke is chocking me dry.
Looking down at the twin rails
streaking our soil to the distance;
wondering how they did it -
the ones that keep fighting
between steel on steel.

The land of five rivers is flowing thick with blood. 
1762.
1984.
2015.
Sikh genocide?
Scriptures, books, culture, history and their corpses in flames. 
Destroying the memory of our existence.




The Moment

The moment you realise that true contentment can be found when you serve others, all other desires will seem so small.

The moment you see joy in another beings eyes because of your own selfless actions, life starts to make a lot more sense.

The moment you begin to act as the reflection of the visions you have for a better world, things will begin to change.

The moment you become aware of your responsibility for the betterment of others, you’ll see such a beauty in life.

The moment you recognise that you will make more of an impact by being righteous than always being right, rewards will fall in your lap.

The moment you begin to be more concerned about learning to love than to be loved, positive emotions of oceanic depths will engulf you.

The moment you become more conscious about understanding others than being understood, your mind will truly begin to learn.

The moment you begin to comprehend that our enemies are not physical flesh and blood yet they are our thoughts, peace will begin to conquer.

The moment you begin to overcome your inner enemies rather than deflecting on others, merriment will come find you.

The moment that you learn how to listen rather than always try to be heard, you will hear languages you thought your mind couldn’t fathom.

The moment you accept that life will always be about mastering and relearning and conquering and climbing, your journey will feel so smooth.

The moment you allow yourself to believe that we can change this world for the better, we will do it.
Because life is but these moments where we learn, change, grow and give.

So go live your moments.



Victima

Did you know that the word victim came from the Latin word, victima - meaning sacrificial animal. 

That’s sounds about right?
Right?
Rather than question the system that allowed this to happen
Plaster me up as an offering to all those that will now question - 
What were you wearing?
Why were you out so late? 
Who were you with?

Because after all
It’s your ‘own fault.’

So victims stay mute. 
Numb. 
Silent - 
It’s the loudest scream. 
The kind of sound that
rips
through your vocal cords and makes its way through
muffled mouths,
and even though they have now heard my cry
I am the
guilty verdict.
So silent I will stay. 
Because if I speak, 
move
or even think for myself
the punishments will continue to
penetrate through
my defenceless self. 
Like a prisoner of war,
Systemically punished until I’m completely broken
Till my soul has
perished. 

But we’ll put that aside for now because we need to ask the more important questions - 
Why were you alone? 
Had you been drinking?
Must have led them on?
Not - what makes you think it’s okay to
lay your hands
on another human being without
their consent?

Because neither innocence
nor promiscuity
will allow me to escape. 
Neither the vulnerability of a young child
Nor the naked body of grown adult makes a difference. 
And rather than support the fragile state of my existence
Continue to question me and
not them. 
As ultimately, I am the ‘Other.’ 
The outcast, 
the dirty, 
the tainted.  

And if you’re thinking here we go again, another woman ranting on
about a poem to do with victim blaming
Well,
that in itself makes it even more valid.
That means no one listened the first time
Or the second time
Or the multiple times I
screamed my throat dry. 

When did trauma
and pain
become such a trope.
To be torn down by society’s
torment and blame? 

“If it’s inevitable, just relax and enjoy it.”
Really? 
I mean really? 

'It doesn’t happen as much as before.’
No honey.
That’s just
unreported
or unrecorded. 
It’s 'lies, damn lies and crime statistics’ 

This is about blaming the voiceless
Rather than the perpetrators   
This is about the guilt
on my shoulders regarding the 'participation.’
This is about convincing young children it’s their
own fault.
This is about
ripping out their innocence
And shattering their understanding of the world.

This is about those living their lives
blaming themselves.
Questioning themselves.
Carrying a survivor guilt on their
aching shoulders.
I know that guilt turns into anger.
I know that anger turns into difficultly to trust.
I know you question everyone
and everything around you.
I know you suspect everyone now.
And rather than any warmth
You get cold stares and
interrogation. 
I know you’d do anything to
numb this. 

I stopped eating in hope that the emptiness will begin to
numb me.
My body became a prison of bone.
My rib cages confining me to a hollow
self existence.
Till I was so thin that I began to fade.
I disappeared. 

And nobody noticed.

But now I’m here.
And I am not alone.
And despite their cold words
I do not lose sense of that
sacred temple
Within the ruins that I now call
my heart.
I have nothing to be blamed for.
I am not the
guilty verdict.



Cultural Appropriation

‘Cultural Appropriation is the adoption of elements of one culture by members of a different cultural group, especially if the adoption is of an oppressed people’s cultural elements by members of the dominant culture.’

Brown women wore shisheh in their clothes since the 17th century. 
Now they’re worn more beautifully as if they weren’t meant for me.

I see them on runways, weaved into their embroidery, so cheaply. When for centuries their reflections were enough for a man to fall in love so deeply.

Because, brown women have been wearing naths since the 16th century. Now they’re worn more beautifully as if they weren’t meant for me.

I remember one time I wore a bindi to school. I thought it was pretty, they called me a fool. They said go back to your country, with your stinking clothes. And now I see them in almost every music video.

So I say hey what now makes it so cool? 

Because, brown women have been wearing payals since the first century. Now they’re worn more beautifully as if they weren’t meant for me.

Their chimes alone acted as inspiration for poetry. 
You should read the Cilappatikaram. Maybe?

Maybe not. 

Maybe I’m wrong to assume that the same mouths that made the word immigrant so dirty - are the same mouths dying for a curry on a Friday night - or a chai tea latte?

Because, brown women wore mendhi vale hath since the Vedic century. Now they’re worn more beautifully as if they weren’t meant for me.

Patterns on my palms that could put petals to shame. Their stains were enough for lions to lose their tame.

Their curves and lines considered hypnotic. Now I bet your henna tattoos make you feel so damn hipster, so damn exotic.

I’m not saying that our lives shouldn’t be shared and symbiotic. I’m just saying we shouldn’t have been degraded in the process. 

Whilst they mocked our linguistics, the artistic or the symbolic, we were crying to be cut loose from the shackles of colonialism. 

Oh, the irony of Indian women scraping their heavenly dark skin with beauty creams to make themselves lighter, whilst they fake up their tans, we cry to be whiter. 

My thick hair was decided for me before I was even in the womb. Let me assure you that my brown skin isn’t some kind of costume. 

We have tried our best to adopt a cultural milieu. Mould ourselves in the surrounding environment like glue, but who are we trying to fool? 

We just make ourselves look more out of place, like trapped animals in a zoo. But assimilation is a complete separate issue, I’ll leave that to Fanon to discuss. 

Because we shouldn’t have to blend. 

For once can we not pretend?

That my beautiful culture is not a trend that will pass on like bell bottom jeans and feathered hair, this is my beauty.

I’m happy to share.

But not at the cost of belittlement. And not in combination with a comment on my mothers accent. 

I’m not saying you cant wear and do such things but please acknowledge the years of discrimination those things would bring. 

We have been too busy living in the dust of an empire that burnt our worth, that we refuse to grow from the ashes. 

But I’m no longer ashamed, I will wear my kajal along my long lashes and wear our seeds with pride so we can flourish.

So sure, wrap yourself up in a sari, whilst we unravel ourselves from our self hatred and low self esteem. 

Unweave the oppression, and we’ll let go of the victimhood stitched in the seams.


Finding Peace

Piece by piece I try to piece together the pieces to find my peace. Please - hear my thank you for putting my mind at ease. It was only at the point when I was down on my knees that I came searching for you. Too blind to see that you were always there, always near, absorbing every tear. You would hear the nights that I would cry myself to sleep and you stretched out your open arms.

I was swerving, the loss of all control. The bleeding from my aching soul. In the darkness, all alone. An anxiety that would strangle my throat and tighten my chest. All whilst I was fighting my own spiritual conquest. But in time I could breathe. I felt the air filling up my lungs when I said those three sounds.

Va-he-guru…

I let those sounds vibrate through me, shaking off the pain with the roar of your name. The only thing that got me through was you. I begged, I pleaded, I cried and now I thank you. I refuse to go back there, falling into the fog, a pit of blackness that would swallow me whole. My head was spinning, my faith was thinning. But now silk flows with the sound of your name. 

You calmed the destruction and chaos in my mind. And in time I would find that you would settle the storm. Guide me out of the cold and into the warm.Helping me transform. And now I am under the sun. Blooming, like wild flowers reaching for the sky, reaching for your light.

My skin and bones have a purpose knowing you have created them, coloured and shaded them. You have brought me to life.

You told me - patience Sherni. Release and let go of that negative energy. And now I no longer speak alone with my soliloquy. You listen. You are my audience, my perspective so that I am reflective. So that I learn how to do my sewa and always give. So that I learn to heal, not forget but always forgive.

Oh God, Allah, Ehyeh, Adonai, Hu, Rab, Satnam, Lord, Jesus, Brahman, Shiva, Vishnu, Waheguru - call It what you may - I promise to wake with the thought of you in my mind, and sleep with your name on my lips.

Unattached. Unaided. Devoted to the ultimate love. I realised that us warriors all need senseis. Something to help guide our minds, our souls and not just swordplay.

I mean…

Planting seeds to nurture our minds, but we need to find our teachers. I mean words that flow truth, not just scripture preachers. Be that a father, a mother, a friend or my Gurus. A love that will resurrect me for the ashes, help me heal my bruises.

Pain is only as real as you let be. Pain only lasts as long as you let it feed. Grow. Wrap around you like weeds, suffocating, ill hating. We shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of strength for you to know how to repair back to your solidity. You were never broken, you had just melted from all the fire, hurt and humidity.

And now I’m both fire and water. You have made me such a powerful force to be reckoned with.

A warrior.

We are all on a journey to find whatever brings us peace. Till we find out ease. Till we grow wings from our spines that let us sore into electric skies with wider eyes, till we reach those higher realms.

You made shaking numb hands become swords of steel. 

Invincible.  

I know I am here to do great things. Conquer. Teach and empower. Love to be showered. But, now I understand that before I can concur I have to piece by piece try to piece together the pieces to find my peace.


Revolutionnaire

47 - Partition

Let’s talk about that year.

That year that led our soil to be rich with tears. And as it appears, the judgment has been made. They’ve paid the price for their faith. Musulman there, Hindu-stan here and Sikhs, well, they can go anywhere?

Forget your forefathers son, what defines them means nothing now. What is done is done. You can watch the setting of the sun from your side, behind your line. Put down your shotgun, leave it there with your zameen.

What do you mean fourteen? Fourteen million.

Fourteen million uprooted from their homes. Uprooted like roots of a tree, ripped out of the soil that they belong to. And it won’t be long before they make weak out of the strong. Remove them. Displaced.

Son, let go from that embrace. That’s not our home anymore. You can watch the kites soar from the your side, behind your line.

We couldn’t even fight a war, we didn’t even have a chance for our lions to roar because they were all so sure that independence is here.

That’s not independence my dear, that’s just a remembrance that the colonialists ruled us and always will. Like a pill, drugging us with opium until we are too blind to see our worth. And here we are crying for a rebirth, a change.

Well isn’t that strange? This was meant for our own good.

Convincing us that this is what we want…

We used to love our Muslim - Hindu - Sikh neighbour, treated them like our sister and brother. But now they’re our enemy, they’re the Other.

A corpse filled train? Now tell me, how will I explain that the dead were refrained from being cremated? How will I get it in their brains that their remains, the skin and their manes won’t mix with the rain and fall into the rivers of my Panjab.

Five rivers.

Yet three are exclusively there, two are here. Tell me how is that fair? Whilst you sit there at the border every day at sunset and you cheer.

Two parts of the land stretch out their thirsty hands, and whilst for some their patriotism expands, others are desperately trying to let go of their homelands.

Border border, bringing some world order? Losing more than three quarters, burn down those borders.

This wasn’t migration. This was mass movement. This wasn’t an improvement.

Listen closely my dear, give me your ear. The blood is still spilling in the soil of Kashmir. Awake from this life of so called freedom and independence or continue to sleep into a nightmare.

Because we have been living a lie since that very year.

47.


I am

I am raising my voice so all the forgotten voices can be heard. 
I am holding my fist in the air for independent women given the
‘B’ word.
And I am clearing up the 'blurred lines’ because in these confines I still stand here with a strong spine, because what is mine is mine and a no means no and a yes means yes.
And yes, I am her story that as been forgotten from the histories. 
These historical women treated as if they were mysteries. 
His-story. 
You’re feeding us a false etymology. 
I am more than every response being an apology. 
I am every lioness ripping through stereotypes attached to our gender. 
I am the feminist agenda, the so called burned bras, the lack of female main role movie stars. 
I am all the thoughts from the girls in my gender studies seminars.
I am the women chained to railings for our vote. 
I am every hunger strike guarding their throats.
I am Ms McCarthy teaching me I could achieve anything.
I am the female warriors - Mao Bhago, Boudicca - that could defeat any King.
I am my trainers who said I have a mean left hook.
I am every woman left out of my school textbooks.
I am feminisms waves one, two and three.
I am the women ignored in science and technology. 
I am the men that see that their engagement is vital.
I am the women that refuse to stick to one label or title. 
I am you, her, him, I am genderless.
I am the women who have to try harder at work to impress.
I am every skin colour that essentialist feminism has ignored.
I am the women that smashed the glass ceiling and soared.
I am the governments gender ratios that remain flawed. 
I am the 10-20% less pay.
I am all de bouvoirs essays.
I am my father, who said I am the same as my brothers. 
I am my ancestors, my sister, my grandmothers, I am my mother. 
I am the women that are making noise with what they write. 
I am the ongoing silent power struggle, the ongoing fight. 


Red Books

Mumma, ‘what was the world like when you were young?’

 Oh my little love, what can I say? 

I wish I could tell you about days that were genuinely okay. 

But we weren’t the most humanly humans. 

I’m sorry that we tainted the history that you have to read. 

We stained those pages as our brothers and sisters would bleed.

 

We tainted our history with the blood of innocents…

 

Oh my little love…

I’m afraid to tell you stories of children terrified to go to school. 

Men with misinterpretations claiming their thoughts would rule. 

Whilst these children would fear that nightmares would thunder through those doors with their bullets.

Ricocheting through their skin like waves in a flood. 

Their school shirts pierced. Their schoolbooks covered with young blood. 

 

Oh my little love…

I’m afraid to tell you stories of kidnapped girls. 

Hundreds. Taken, sold, missing. 

Ever screen I saw - Bring back our girls. Bring back our girls!

We lost young souls as precious as pearls.

But after a week it was no longer trending. 

Our concerns were no longer sending. Our empathy was no longer extending.

Our Facebook charity events had no one attending. 

 

Oh my little love…

I’m afraid to tell you that men would starve themselves to death to find justice. 

Hunger strikes weren’t just left to the suffragettes.

These means were adopted by brave men in India, Thailand and in the West.

But governments continued with their cruelty and numbness.

They remained posted on their pedestals, and like blind mice, we trusted. 

 

Oh my little love…

I’m afraid to tell you that these stories were only on the news for a day or all the way on page fifteen. 

Mixed up in a media misrepresentation machine. 

No one cared about those darker races.

Baby, no one cared about those 'far away’ places.

 

I’m afraid you’ll ask me, little love, what did I do? Who were you?! 

And I’m afraid I will have nothing to say. 

 

I’m sorry that we tainted the history that you have to read. 

We stained those pages as our brothers and sisters would bleed.

We tainted our history with the blood of innocents…

 

We’ll grow the trees for the paper of our history books with the tears of those mothers.

Injustice. 

 

I close my eyes and see libraries stacked with shelves of history books blackened with blood.

I’m afraid our children will look at us in shame. Us bystanders will be the ones to blame. 

Our children will search for heroes and to us they shall look, but all we will do is hand them stained red books. 


Mumma, ‘what was the world like when you were young?’

Oh my little love, what can I say? 

I wish I could tell you about days that were genuinely okay. 

But we weren’t the most humanly humans. 

I’m sorry that we tainted the history that you have to read. 

We stained those pages as our brothers and sisters would bleed.

 

We tainted our history with the blood of innocents…

 

Oh my little love…

I’m afraid to tell you stories of children terrified to go to school. 

Men with misinterpretations claiming their thoughts would rule. 

Whilst these children would fear that nightmares would thunder through those doors with their bullets.

Ricocheting through their skin like waves in a flood. 

Their school shirts pierced. Their schoolbooks covered with young blood. 

 

Oh my little love…

I’m afraid to tell you stories of kidnapped girls. 

Hundreds. Taken, sold, missing. 

Ever screen I saw - Bring back our girls. Bring back our girls!

We lost young souls as precious as pearls.

But after a week it was no longer trending. 

Our concerns were no longer sending. Our empathy was no longer extending.

Our Facebook charity events had no one attending. 

 

Oh my little love…

I’m afraid to tell you that men would starve themselves to death to find justice. 

Hunger strikes weren’t just left to the suffragettes.

These means were adopted by brave men in India, Thailand and in the West.

But governments continued with their cruelty and numbness.

They remained posted on their pedestals, and like blind mice, we trusted. 

 

Oh my little love…

I’m afraid to tell you that these stories were only on the news for a day or all the way on page fifteen. 

Mixed up in a media misrepresentation machine. 

No one cared about those darker races.

Baby, no one cared about those 'far away’ places.

 

I’m afraid you’ll ask me, little love, what did I do? Who were you?! 

And I’m afraid I will have nothing to say. 

 

I’m sorry that we tainted the history that you have to read. 

We stained those pages as our brothers and sisters would bleed.

We tainted our history with the blood of innocents…

 

We’ll grow the trees for the paper of our history books with the tears of those mothers.

Injustice. 

 

I close my eyes and see libraries stacked with shelves of history books blackened with blood.

I’m afraid our children will look at us in shame. Us bystanders will be the ones to blame. 

Our children will search for heroes and to us they shall look, but all we will do is hand them stained red books. 


The Soul Contract

They said you were suitable. Sensible. That it was time for me to settle down and simply not resist. 

Your family is respectful, they said. Reputable, and that I should ready my red lengha, as I lost my face in lights and cameras and listened to the laavaan.

Were you not listening? 

One soul in two bodies? So why would you belittle me and bruise me black and blue till my brain burns through my brown eyes and I bleed, bathing in the bathroom trying to wash away the pain.

 

Were you not listening? 

Round one - renounce sinful actions

You sipped on sharab till you could no longer see me. They said ssssh, don’t complain, don’t fuss, deal with his drinking, it’s what all men do. Don’t make a deal. 

But I found the darkness of the devil in you. You destroyed our marriage, whilst you disguised yourself in your suit and tie, and visited her and her and her from the other night. 

 

Were you not listening? 

Round two - have fear of God and your ego will disappear.

Fear? Ha. 

You were too much of a fool to feel fear. You keep eating to feel full and drinking to get drunk but will you ever be satisfied? Surely, your sick mind will somehow stop those sleazy encounters.

What happened to monogamy? It’s not like you were born with this misogyny, or maybe it was all that pornography influencing you to believe that you should have more than just me. 

I found out that one was a teen, thirteen or fourteen? Did you strike fear in her too? Telling her this is what all adults do. 

 

Were you not listening?

Round three - divine love, we’ll found our future destiny. 

Destiny, dreams, devotion. I’m expecting to find some sort of loyalty in your lengthy lies, yet I am left lonely. 

Lifting dirty dishes, dipping your food down the drain because some nights you don’t come home. You say work kept you late. You are bringing home the big bucks, so I should shut up.

Congratulations Mr. Breadwinner, would you like a side of battered bride with that? 

 

Were you not listening? 

Round four - we are surrendering sweetly the mind, soul and body.

All I surrendered was my sanity and my serenity. My inner peace was pulled out of me along with my plaited hair, as you gripped a handful and smashed my skull into the side of the kitchen worktop, whispering wicked words, whilst I was wishing that I were dead. 

I’m suffocating in this sea of sick secrets. Yet I have to shut up and smile so that I don’t get shunned. Shamed.

But I did nothing wrong… 

 

It seems I lost every round. We were fighting a battle where I was unarmed. You came with swords and bullets to bear through my chest. All I had was closed eyes and clenched fists. 

But this wasn’t a battle, a fight, rounds one to four. 

This was our marriage, our four laavaan.


FALL IN LOVE WITH A LION

I had written this poem earlier this year after having a few conversations with some Singhs about the difficulties they faced with their appearance whilst they were growing up. They grew up in an age where they didn’t find themselves attractive because they didn’t fit into the norm of what society wanted. They found themselves surrounded by images from the Western media and cultural pressures which defined their standards of beauty through clean-shaven men and short hair. The same can be said for the difficulties that the Singhnis face, continuously being told by a derogative consumerist society what is beautiful, what is attractive and what is ‘sexy.’ Let us not forget that body image is a men and women’s issue. So I wrote this poem so that we can all feel beautiful.

Here is the newer edited version of the poem. Enjoy…

I dream of his free-flowing beard,

His magnificent mane, curled and twisted along his beautiful strong jaw.

I want his heavy hands, his paws, to bare weight on mine.

I’ll admire each strand of his hair as it slips down his fierce back when he removes his crown.

KING of the jungle.

I want the sound of his thick steel kara clinging to make my hair rise.

His simran beads on his left hand to jingle.

I want him to twist his mucha when he thinks.

I don’t want him speak, I want him to roar. Spilling REVOLUTIONS from his word.

A growl from his throat that sends THUNDERS through my chest.

I want to be taken into his pride. I will be his family.

We shall run wild and free in the savanna. Hunt for our dreams together. We shall change the world.

I will accept his weaknesses, his war wounds, his scars, I will help make him stronger.

I will see his soft SOUL hidden under that velvet skin.

Whenever he feels caged,

I’ll free him.

Whenever he feels raged,

I’ll tame him.

In Sanskrit he will be my Simha.

For our cubs he’d be their Simba.

Do not doubt me, do not have me mistaken.

I shall not be his lamb.

I will be his SHERNI. His resident Queen.

My Lion. My Sher. My Singh.

Why would you doubt yourself when you have STRENGTH and power written in your name?

Why would you not find yourself beautiful? Breath taking.

So I wonder… Why would a Sherni want to be with a lamb when she should find her equal..

She could fall in love with a Lion.  


Queens and Corpses

 

It says from her, ‘kings are born,’ she is a creator,

It is through her that life evolves.

She is our caretaker.

Yet thousands of little girls were never given such a worth,

They have been cut to pieces, abandoned, at their very birth…

Before she sees the world around,

Buried alive, kicking. Screaming, in the ground.

Before she has taken her very first step,

Before she could breathe her very first breath…

Drugged with opium, strangled, some thrown in the flame, 

Some stuffed with their own faeces, 

Her female body and female mind are all there is to blame…

Dowry. “Why burden ourselves?” 

We shall have sons, upon sons, upon sons. 

Our name will last forever. 

He shall look after us, all of us, all of us together.

He can take our land, inherit, and all shall be divine.

And those corpses of the baby girls will disappear with time. 

Underneath that land that they hold so dear,

Are thousands of infant girls with no voice left to hear…

Ratios, censuses, statistics.

They are clearly showing one thing.

Where are the missing daughters?

What shall these generations bring?

Female infanticide. A topic left for whispers. 

We cannot just blame the men. It is the mothers, wives and sisters.

‘To a woman a man is bound. So why call her bad? From her, kings are born. From a woman, woman is born; without woman there would be no one at all’

Our bani cries these words to us. So why do we treat daughters as if they are worthless. 

I can stand here with my kesh down my back and my kara on my hand because my father and my mother said I am same as my brothers.

But where are all those missing daughters of Panjab? 

The lost daughters of Panjab.

60 million. 60 million missing girls of India. That is almost the population of our land here. 

Does that not create any fear? 

Fear of an unbalanced gender-ratio, resulting in a hyper masculine Indian society. More extortion, distortion, more disproportion. 

More rape, more kidnaping, more sex-selective abortions.

There is only one way that this can end. The only way for it to stop.

We must change our views on women. The paradigm must drop.

Drop into the sea of blood that this paradigm has caused. 

Continue on with equality from the place that it has paused. 

Please remember females are not a burden, an object. Females are not a cost.

Else blood will stain the lands of Panjab with daughters they have lost.


A Womb with a View.

Within there, I could only see warmth, strength and love. 
Within those walls I felt pure protection. 
And upon reflection, I can not thank you enough for the affection, direction, love and perfection.
You, my mother. You are perfection.

Even though we are no longer umbilically attached to one another, 
You are still my security. 
Such divine purity. 
You provided selfless love for a creature that did not even exist.

I remained curled there in a ball with clenched fists, 
Reminding you of my presence with every kick and twist.
Whilst you stood there for days on end clicking buttons at a till, 
Because you and my beautiful father were building for our future with your goodwill. 
With a breaking back, swollen knees and a bursting bladder.. 
Right up until delivery day.

I will never resent you for not providing me with your milk. It wasn’t your fault. 
They attached stigma to a natural process that was a beautiful as silk. 
Milk. Milk that could fight infections and perhaps even an iq enhancer, super stem cells and cells that fight cancer. 
You had to give me powder in a bottle, but you gave me things a thousand times better.

You gave me power.
I’ll live by those words as if they were biblical.
You gave me strength.
You showed me that a woman was nothing but formidable. Mai Bhago.

You gave me wisdom.
So I’d spend my days swimming in books.
You gave me sense. 
So I learnt that a woman should never depend on her looks. Maya Angelou.

For those nine months that you sheltered me.
For those two hundred and seventy four days.
For those six thousand, five hundred and seventy four hours. For every minute since.. 
..My admiration for you can do nothing but bloom.
Because you did nothing but love me since you felt me in your womb.