As nobody can ever agree about what my religion is, I’m constantly asked to provide the answer. Unfortunately, my response never appears to satisfy anyone. Here is a poem, which I wrote because I was tired of people being reduced to a single facet of their identities rather than being treated like individuals.
You ask me my religion.
I smile; I tell you.
You frown; you disbelieve.
My religion doesn’t fit your colour scheme.
Mine is the religion of clouds
Gliding over a sulking sky
Edges embroidered with gilt,
Illuminated by a hidden sun.
Mine is the religion of dandelions,
Of a dead fish’s dying breath,
Of clusters of lantern-shaped bougainvillea,
Trembling in the languid afternoon breeze.
Mine is the religion of unbridled joy
Galloping over rolling green hills
A wild mare, drunk with liberty
Unfettered, untroubled, uninhibited
Mine is the religion of regard
Genuine, without gaudy show
Of promises unspoken, but not unkept.
Of acceptance, of forgiveness.
Our temple is a pine tree.
Its branches are low and sturdy.
Its foliage is thick, but unobscuring.
A still, quiet place
For anyone who climbs up.
Malavika Selvaraj is a nineteen-year-old writer and poet who lives in Mumbai.
Featured image credit: Pariplab Chakraborty.