Every Family Gathering Ever

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