Pinned down to a heightened chair
she had her face smeared
with vehement strokes of
Below the nose, around the pair,
barring the eyes, perhaps
her dimpled cheeks too and her throbbing forehead.
You would sniffle. So did she.
Eyes shut. Brows raised. Eyelids stretched.
A honed thread ran obliquely
through her taut yet fragile skin.
Uprooting her innocence
one hair at a time.
A drop collected in one corner of her eye.
It stumbled upon another and
together they galloped to the brim.
The salt water thus escaped the lid.
The dusky flesh turned red.
Now the blood also
yelped for a vent.
the blood though was destined to stay
as battlefield scars on war-torn heroes.
If this isn’t gallantry, what is?
The new adult, however, smiled through
every shred of her lost puberty–
“Would my high school crush now care?”
wondered her muffled spirit.
He did, it seems, notice?
For there wasn’t another soul with a
brow as uncanny as hers.
A confluence, destined to be apart.
In school and family,
her home and around,
even in her adored comics and Mama’s soaps–
such representation was nowhere to be found.
The honer of the thread embarking on the
most fulfilling question of her career asked her,
“Would you want me to separate the twins?”
Shoving her into a dusty locker-room
of teenage memories
she had lost the key to–
0r so she believed.
Flashes of her farewell sash reading
“The unibrow girl”
scurried before her eyes.
Years of introspection into whether
‘the separation’ would
reveal the concealed mole beneath the right brow?
Remained unanswered (to this day)
by the Mirror on the wall.
Her faint whiskers and hair covered limbs
would often found themselves
serenaded, as the coveted butt of the popular humour.
She remembered feeling numb.
like the human equivalent of helium:
mostly non-existent yet funny enough
to crack up sadist souls.
She would cuddle up to her Mama
and weep: in whispers and in sleep.
“Why did I have to be so different?
Why does everyone see the hair on my face
before they see me–
the hair above my lips
before they look me in the eye?
You, you aren’t like me.
Why am I not like you, Mama?
“Because you are more beautiful, honey.
You are not me because you are you.
You are not the bodily hair you possess.
You are more. Know that.
If someone were to love you
for your lean body and blemish-free face,
it cannot be love.
To love and be loved for who we are,
not what we are endowed with,
is what we deserve. Nothing less.”.
“Mama, am I any less of a girl?”
“Who told you that?!
How much of a girl you want to be
Is your choice–
Be your own Frida Kahlo or not be.
Hair or no hair.
Be, what you what to be.
Not the you, you think people what you to be.
For the plucked hair will keep coming back
To remind you of its existence.
Upon you lies
To let it be
Or tame it nice.
“Mama. I don’t understand?”
“Oh, you will sweetie!”
So, would you like to separate the unibrow?”
“Sorry, what? Come again?”
A Malayalee raised in the city of joy, Shinali is mostly perplexed about which one of these cultures house more inside her. When not grappling with the cost-benefit analysis of the Economics she is pursuing, she writes, about anything she is inspired by- films, rain and the likes. She tweets @shinali_tsee.