Poem | Gaurav Deka

Why they say we lie

Artwork : Chintu Das

it all starts with the class teacher asking
us to seek permission before we could go to pee; 
and before we could— sorry
learn the straightness of ‘attention’ 
blaring from a loudspeaker at the morning assembly line,
begin to acknowledge the warmth of silence 
in the rustle of bodies rubbing behind,
give up on seeking meaning in keeping 
our eyes closed in daylight, mumble mindlessly:
just to pace up the recitation of Jana-Gana-Mana; 

we’d be holding our bulges down, under the bench
and learn to beg with shame, “May I go to toilet, Ma'am?” 
“may I go to toilet?”
later we’d say “I love you” to a lot of men,
just to get into their pants, 
we’d lack patience unlike before: not believe in admonishments; 
even if we’re made to kneel, asked to keep our mouth shut.

we’d not wait for things to harden, move our tongues and limbs 
in the watery darkness of cinema halls making no sound except 
for the zipper between fingers – it is easier to open while standing –
when the flag on the screen 
would be hoisted and the national anthem sung. 

there, in adversity, we’d learn to appreciate the beauty of softness,
learn to believe in the absence of love in the quickness of it, 
even if we'd never say it.

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