If Others Make Me, Then What Am I?

When Oscar Wilde said,
“Most people are other people…
…their lives a mimicry”,
I was confused.
My life’s a mockery
Of someone else’s?
My pain, a hollow duplicate?
Is that how it is?

Then my professors explained,
“We are unoriginal,
Our personalities bits and pieces
From people we have met,
hated, loved and lost.”
I was confused still,
Irritated by this senseless
Alienating romanticism,
This deliberate, blind
Fetishism. Why, if I am
A mimicry, then let me be
The sight of prejudiced eyes,
The smell of burning houses,
The smoke of funeral pyres
That were lighted too soon;

If my passions are a quotation,
Then let me quote,
The hatred of millions,
The slap of reality
On a little girl’s face.
Let my life embody
The accusing stares
During an India-Pakistan cricket match,
The vengeful questions of loyalty
And the pulsating womb
Of violence.

If I’m all the places I have been,
Then I stand in the middle
Of tear gas and lathi charge,
Of riots and pogroms.

If what I have experienced
Must, must be a part of me,
Then let this hatred of a nation,
Word by word, tear by tear
Be engraved right inside
My stone heart.

Elizabeth Hasan is an undergraduate student of Literature and a published poet, based in Kolkata. 

Featured image credit: Pariplab Chakraborty