the hall is a relaxed space
where the relaxed men relax with their legs down
and bellies full;
relaxed with all the food that the women served,
and the relaxed feeling
of having to do nothing.
the kitchen has a frenzied smell to it;
the women have risen to do their duty
before Surya even rose to do his.
the cooked food tastes of labour and
the spicy scent of sacrifice —
every bite of which is savoured
by the relaxed men relaxing in the hall.
i meander in and out,
unable to find a seat for myself.
in the hall, the men talk of things that excite me.
they talk of politics and satire, of businesses,
and within them all that transpires.
they talk of manly things,
muscling their voice to be strong enough
to control the conversation
so that it does not bend away
from a straight line.
but my voice is unheard, covered up by their deep, masculine ones,
subtly telling me that
my higher pitch
is simply not smart enough.
inside the rooms, the women speak in hushed tones
of all the things that remain within those four walls,
and do not slip away to the large, masculine, outer halls.
they tell you to fix your sari, to touch this and not touch that,
they tell you to be more “womanly”; to not be too slim,
but not too fat.
they tell you the way your body must be,
how it must be covered and how it must appear,
and my body does not fit,
or does not accept to fit
into any of these cages.
so at every family function or gathering ever
i search for a place for myself
between the hall where i belong, but am not allowed,
and the inside rooms and kitchen where i am allowed,
but do not belong.
this body is too unaccepting
and this mind is too non-conforming
to accept my place indoors
and to conform to silence outdoors.
Saranya Subramanian is a 22-year-old literature aficionado based in Bombay. She spends her time singing to herself and watching Madhubala videos (sigh). And she writes because, well, it’s all that she can really do.
Featured image credit: Youtube