The body is a box, it is not me. When you trap my identity in labels of gender, regional feature, skin colour, this body makes me feel like a prisoner.

I’m told I carry the honour of my family. I am custodian, my sexuality its gatekeeper. That men approach this body only as intruder. This body becomes a locker even I’m not allowed to enter.

I punished myself & this body for not being enough. Scalding hot showers to burn away each touch. My body played by other people’s rules, of fear & paranoia laid out by fools. I seared my insides with shame. This body felt like a tattered notebook, slashed across with blame.

This body doesn’t feel safe, when my insides feel like a warzone, dodging bullets called beauty standards-saawli twacha, cellulite, muffintop, no thigh gap. It is zoned by size, by texture, by colour. In the wastelands of what’s left, who I am flows into gutters. I’m a refugee inside this body. Where do I put the feelings you call baggage? My body is a waiting room for other people’s approval.

Alone, the echoes fade. Deep under voices I hear my heartbeat. My insides pulse as I hear breath rattle down the spiral stairway of my throat. Downstairs past my stomach, in the basement we don’t like to talk about, I find comfort. Nourishment. My body is preparing for welcome.

When they say you carry the universe inside you, this is what they mean. I’ve seen it. My body is hope. It is possibility. It is also loss eventually. It is pain & pleasure, all mixed together. All things begin from here & here they close. This body contains every story ever told.

When I open my eyes, I’m not in a waiting room anymore. Fertile & ripe, my body is a garden. I’ve tended to the cracks. Now flowers grow where things were broken. There are diyas in places that used to burn. Those feelings, unwanted acid, I turn into poetry. Blood-stained like all new life, they flow from me.

My body is an airport for paper planes. It turns scars into body art. My body wears 4 decades like Superwoman’s cape. My body plays host to feminism. My body carries lullabies & flamingoes. This beautiful body feels like home to me.

🎶: BORN THIS WAY: Lady Gaga

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