Vidita Priyadarshini

Interrogations: A Poem

By Vidita Priyadarshini

He asked me why I wore pajamas to college.

Where is the skinny jeans-wearing, hairless creature that once was, beginning of the term.

Then he asked me to not wear jeans –

The ass is not big. The waist isn’t ideal either.

He asked me why I hunched.

Whether deliberate attempt to create an illusion of a big rift in my chest.

I said yes. He looked elated.

He asked me why I would not buy a coffee. He forced a coffee down my throat.

He asked me to calm myself down when I called it sexism.

It’s not that big a deal, maybe.

He asked me why I was studying. Frankly, I don’t know.

He asked me why I didn’t use my father’s last name. I don’t remember having a choice even in that.

He asked me why I started debating. I don’t have the answer to that either.

He asked me when and why I became political. When I tried telling him about the real trigger, he shut me off.

He asked me to be careful; to not take risks.

The world is not a place for difference. But I still don’t know what normal is.

I find myself catching anomalies in places where I must not peep.

I am prohibited – in public, and in private.

He asked me why I constantly push boundaries.  I often wonder if I should stop.

He asked me why I was overcharged. Why my energies never seemed to touch the low.

He was okay with only one type of energy.

I should speak softly.

An extension to alleviate fears of sexism – everyone should speak softly.

He asked me again to hide my thoughts.

Thoughts which have been built up from people. Thoughts which have been built up from a person. Thoughts which have been built up from endless scouring of academic journals – with words floating around questioning why you dig into them.

He asked me why I cared so much. I have had it easy.

He asked me why it mattered to me that people get pointed out for their flamboyance.

He asked me why it mattered to me that the girl next to me wanted me hairless.

He asked me why it mattered to me that someone got fired for their relationship status.

He asked me why it mattered to me at all.

He asked me why I wouldn’t leave people alone.

He finally mustered up the courage – he asked me why I called myself a feminist

“You’re a Femi-Nazi!”

Silence.

I, with centuries of privilege, am no one to say anything.

I, with a father to protect me, am no one to say anything.

I, with a good education, am no one to say anything.

I, who am a regular at Delhi cafes, am no one to say anything.

I, who am not emaciated, am no one to say anything.

I am just as guilty as those against whom I am speaking.

He asked me why I have been using a ‘He’ while writing this – accusing me of the same essentialism I wanted to oppose

He asked me to control my misandry.

He asked me to check my privilege.

He asked me to control my emotions.

And he shouted – You’re just as guilty, you’re just as guilty, you’re just as guilty.

Sigh.

I accept.

I am guilty. I am guilty. I am guilty.

He asked me to stop writing – “It doesn’t make a difference.”

I cut the phone.

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