A Red-Letter Day

The child in me doesn’t wear glasses. The optometrist gave her a 20/20 — a perfect eye score, because 20 years of dirt, amendment bills, and farmers’ tears don’t blur her vision.

She isn’t a part of the country that mistook gunshots for lullabies. She lights clay diyas with midnight oil to celebrate her heritage, not to burn down houses of people who go against it.

She knows love letters aren’t always written with a quill pen on a scratchy old paper and sealed with wax. Sometimes, they are on a post-it note stuck onto a lunch — to be shared with children whose hungry bellies are a film roll that was never developed.

The child in me is privileged. She gets to sit in a bus and look out of windows. Saffron and green are still parts of the same flag for her, not colours of terror. And when she’s giving it away — be it love, care or unrequited affection, unlike us, she knows just how much to.

Old Bollywood songs float on her tongue instead of sleeping pills. Her blue mouth eats jamun as old actors romance young lovers. And she scoffs when I wear earphones and sleep — perfectly capable of battling all sorts of voices, but unable to cope with silence.

The child in me is brave, unabashedly kind and vehemently shameless. She speaks without autocorrect ending her sentence or social-media censorship. And sings patriotic songs too, on red-letter days.

She goes against the world and fights for her school friend, who told the teacher she wanted to wear ugly pants and not pretty skirts. Gender prescribes how we ‘should’ be rather than recognising how we are. The child in me believes a revolution and that people are beautiful only when they stand up for something true.

The child in me likes to be a tree, eat mud, soak in the heavy smell of rain, write novels in my head, bat away hands that choke our freedom of speech, and wait on birds that don’t want to fly just yet.

I am a thousand words in a letter,
But the child in me
Is an ink spillage.

Aishwarya Roy is pursuing a Master’s degree in Biotechnology. She reads a lot on science, history, and politics, and writes to make herself feel things.

Featured image credit: Pariplab Chakraborty