Saheem Haris | Participant 10

As far as my memory goes

my happiest days

were on that see-saw

painted violet, around my pre-school buddies

taking our turns

lifting each other up.

Then came the day

I cried to sleep the very first time

'boys don't need bangles'

shouted my mom,

but I still have them

in my box of the past

indigo coloured

with glitters of gold.

Every time I went to school

I remained lonely

like a refugee in a foreign land

the odd one out,

solitude got the best of me

and I gave in.

Thats when I got this role

in a small school play

as a maiden

flaunting her blue gown

holding a basket full of love and roses.

For the very first time

I felt like myself,

I felt so alive

my insides screaming at the world watching

'This is who I wanna be'.

Still tied down

by the chains of solitude,

my high school years coursed by

confused about my identity

an anomaly of creation

a curse and a taboo.

Each day waking up as someone else

my lean body

drooping like a question mark asking myself

'Am I a man or a woman?'.

But with all the nickels i gathered

and grandma’s pitching in

bought those bright green heels

which I proudly wore

whenever I felt alone,

my most cherished posession

and my closest confidant.

In college

I chose to forge my uncertainty and fear

into arrows of courage and pride

I walked into my parents room

and told them of my pleas.

What happened next was all a blur

dad with his belt and

mom’s prayers to God

'Please cure my child of this disease’

Days followed

with me locked behind my door

but I never begged them to let me out

for maybe I always enjoyed being alone.

Then came my grandma

a kind heart knitted with rose petals

holding a necklace filled with love

and a pure yellow sapphire in the middle.

With my college life coming to an end

I couldn't take it anymore,

'I am a woman!'

I said into the mirror one day

'Why do they not know?'

I tore up my shirt,

turning them into britches and blouses

the mirror smiling, said to me

'You are finally free’

With all that I could carry

I fled from my home, my birthplace

found myself a new home,

even though small and shaggy.

And thats when I saw him

through the wooden window to the right

among the new tenants

that also moved next door,

wearing an orange polka dot shirt

and a smile as pretty as the full moon.

My heart went crazy

I could feel each beat

butterflies finally woke up in my stomach

from their long dormant sleep.

But I knew I was never made to love

or to be loved

and with a broken heart

I lived in that dark, cold room.

Poetry was all that I had left

coursing through my veins,

learning to tuck the pain behind the verses,

black words against white sheets

until all that was left

was the colour grey.

Oh wait!

'But where is the colour red?'

you may ask,

maybe its what defines me now.

I am now writing this,

the pen perched on my rogue-tinted lips

as a doctor

whose hands lightly stained

with scarlet blood.

On a violet chair,

in an indigo print saree

newly bought green heels

and that same old yellow necklace

of my grandma’s.