My Body, a Language of Vulnerability

How do I spell ‘Love’
when I have always been on a crusade
with this body?
A body, which is heckled in society’s fortress of unsettling beauty standards.

On some winter mornings,
I go on a run, exhausting myself.
I fail to match the speed,
for my mind is not at peace.
I run to save my life from
the hands of mockery.
Mockery of my mammoth body,
that starts from home,
in the narrow corridors of schools
and the tea stalls of my neighbourhood,
the loop goes on.
My body is never finished.

My scarred knuckle,
the rivulets of stretch marks,
dangling arms are made to be loathed in a bathtub
where the bubble of self-love crumbles
like the fallen hair stuck in my washroom grating.

As a kid, I was made to believe that
if you touch the vase often
it will break. So to fragment my body into smaller parts,
I scraped my thighs with soap until
they started bleeding but never shrank.

While Ma asks, “How was the food today?”
I fumble to answer, for I didn’t take a bite;
a bite of love that failed to reach my stomach.
They are always just hurting, Ma.
Yes, I meant to say “joking” but the truth
slipped off my tongue.

When the teacher defined pretty in Class 3,
they shoved their hands up my throat for the antonym.
Schools, you see, are a brutal place where your bones keep breaking with the catastrophes that keep heeding.

My tongue has walloped enough uncalled shame,
dripping from every part of my body,
that I open my mouth to the strangers in the
hope to feel whatever is closest to ‘Love’.

This fight is not yours, but ours to claim.
While I learn to spell Love in every language,
my skin exists to battle with itself.

Prasangana Paul pursuing International Relations from Jadavpur University loves to create art and believes to rattle the bones of the vices from her words

Featured image credit: Pixabay