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Woman With Sharpest Teeth & Softest Palms

The piece talks more about the rise than the fall. It is me owning my voice—every woman's voice. We are here to be heard. We are here to be listened to.

There's this old tradition in my house where, when we sit down for dinner, the noise of the grief-stricken creaking chairs overpowers the sound of our heartbeats.

Maa cooks curd rice and French beans for dinner with her hands engraved with Baba's violent love- it's her anniversary, and she's wearing her favorite golden-yellow kanjivaram saree as she serves me apple custard with a melancholic smile, dying to yell till her lungs give out, "I am hurting- I am hurting- I am hurting; please save me, my child." A cavity begins to form in my molars; I hear a bone inside me break; my shoulder blades mourn my futile existence.

Baba stays up late watching BBC news and, on most nights, drinking cheap alcohol and smoking in other women's silhouettes at bars. When I tell Maa he is not in love with her, she frowns as if it is a God-given lineage—broken marriage imprinted on her scalp like desperate teen tattoos. She sends me to sleep while decorating her dead dreams on Nani's unfinished woolen shawl.

Didi is an audience who has been visiting empty stadiums for years now; hoping for a less painful defeat; helping Maa wipe out her salty tears before they mix up with the dough, and I, a rebel with a taped mouth and rope-tied hands, wanting to scream into the monotonous sky and make stars go to war for my dying mother. I want to untangle every constellation and send them on a mission to shut patriarchy, make it bleed till it sobs out humanity and pukes chauvinism out of its trachea.

So when an Indian woman goes into media to let the world know how fucking doomed she is, and people shame her for projecting her voice, for wanting not just to be heard but listened to, I want to say—s c r e w y o u society for imposing loveless marriage down naive women's throats; romanticizing the guillotine-like fancy French art that needs to be gulped down in order to adapt to modern culture.

When we say we have been hurting, what we need is your hand reaching out to uplift us. We need you to intertwine your heartstrings with ours until empowerment becomes a new language and a female infant learns it like the back of her tiny, chunky hands while plaiting her Barbie's hair with fresh blood, reeking of subsumed toxic masculinity we can stand and trip-walk ourselves. Just don't tear the bandaids from our scraped knees. Our wounds are our recovery stripes—our identity.

Don't shush us and tell us that womanhood is a generational curse; that womanhood disgusts you. Because we know you are terrified of us— that we might nail our bindis on the parched walls; leave our bloody footprints on costly maple floors; carve revolutions in slum streets with our burnt hands; strangle prejudices with our kanjivaram sarees; undrape them to make your deathbed look aesthetic and watch you bleed in crimson red with Maa Kali's laughter.

We know that the only reason you buy a ticket

for our dying exhibition is because you don't want us to die-

you want us to suffer and womb.

Your ugly stereotypes and rotten misogyny, we know that when you call us weak,

what you mean is that

our ribcage houses your strength,

and you're afraid

of your dead life

in us.

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