Secrets ~ CD

In the last 22 years of my existence, I’ve learnt that everyone in my family has secrets.
My mom has a secret stash of savings for days that get too tough on my dad,
My sister has had boyfriends, something my mother strictly frowns upon,
And I have a secret closet to hide in.
A place I only discovered at the age of 19.
To think of it, I’ve spent so much time in there,
No wonder I like planning my outfits down to the ‘T’.
Despite the rainbow being shuffed into the back corner of my closet,
Its bright colours have found a place on the canvas I use to create art adorning the walls that put
together my home.
And today,
I’ve picked you 4 colours from my palette,
To paint a flag I now wear with pride.
I’ve always been scared of the dark,
Scared of the void,
Scared of not knowing what lies beyond,
What I cannot perceive.
Black is the colour of the box I hide my gay thoughts in and keep aside before I get on the 11 pm
train to my hometown during every vacation.
Those 8 hours on the railway track feel like a ride into the void,
A void where I sit in complete silence,
Almost forgetting that the rainbow doesn’t just adorn the sky but also colours my soul.
Black is the void I create to tuck away thoughts of impurity,
Before I walk into my parents’ home,
Because I’ve learnt they’re always watching,
Watching me,
My steps,
My words,
My ways,
And maybe my thoughts.
So I tuck the rainbow away,
Hide the flag,
And walk home as if the life I’ve been living here is a lie,
It’s a dream I’m woken up from for a few hours a day,
It’s a threat to all the relationships I’ve built in this family,

And carefully knitted into my blanket called home to keep myself safe and warm,
That I’m too scared to lose if the lid falls off.
Its a threat to the dream wedding on the terrace of my home because I may then not be able to
call it so.
And I say wedding, not marriage because we still have to fight for that in court,
Not that the parliament thinks so,
But maybe for this piece, I’ll stick to a different battle,
God knows we’ve got more than enough of those.
White has always been your ideas of purity,
Your ideas of right,
Your ideas of perfection and bliss,
It is also mine.
Only that my purity is of joy, of happiness, of living life on your own terms.
Unlike yours that sits like jewels on the English Queen’s crown,
Like sapphire, ruby and emeralds,
Like patriarchy, binaries and heteronormativity.
White is pure for me too,
Like the pure joy I felt when for the first time my best friend asked me, ‘What kind of women to
do like?’
White. Pure. Valid.
Like I felt in a clinical psych lecture on gender dysphoria,
Where we discussed everything from stereotypes and discrimination to pronouns and
understanding differences between assigned gender, gender identity, gender expression,
sexuality, attraction both sexual and romantic, distinct.
I think every classroom needs to hear that lecture,
To learn about themselves, about each other, about the world outside the boxes of binaries,
And I think when they finally do,
We will finally begin to raise our kids right, at least in some ways,
And maybe then our world will be a little more pure,
A little more white.
Purple belongs to us.
We have claimed our rights over it,
Painted our hands with it,
Sewn it into our gloves.
The colour that sits where pink and blue meet,
The pink that rushes up to my cheeks when she smiles at me from across the room,
The pink that I adorn myself with so often that it’s become a part of me,

The same pink you have weighted down with ideas of feminity.
The blue that I was when I first realized the person I want to be dating might not be a ‘him’.
The same blue my tears were coloured when I couldn’t understand what attraction was,
because in this flimsy handbook you gave me of love,
The one with chapters on finding the right man,
Ways to be a good wife and daughter in law,
Have and raise the perfect children,
To let patriarchy run in my veins so thick I can’t tell it apart from my own blood,
You forgot to add the section on feeling attraction with same gender,
Or not feeling attraction at all,
Or sometimes feeling it in such rare forms that you can’t find it even with Velma’s torch.
If you ran out of ink, here take my blood,
Use my body as a canvas,
Make a flip book if you will.
Because our love deserves to be broadcasted on billboards too,
Just like yours,
Maybe prettier.
Purple is where the boundaries of heterosexuality and homosexuality cease to exist.
Where they make space for couples like you and I to exist.
Where they let me kiss who I want to kiss, or not kiss at all, without wanting me to conform to
ideas of desire that don’t even belong to us.
Where I find a home,
A community we’ve built,
And most importantly I find myself.
Grey is the box you’ve tried to fit us in,
When we fell out of margins of black and white.
You know, like when a child colours outside the lines,
So you modify the drawing, add a doodle,
To cover up their mistakes.
But let me remind you, these are the pieces that make it to your fridge,
‘They add beauty’ you tell me,
We might, to your world, if you give us a chance.
You put us in the bag of grey,
Because you find it easy to fit people into boxes,
With pointers to check off,
Like baggy jeans,
Like coloured hair,
Like piercings that go running up my ears, eyes, nose…run down my belly button and more,

Like flannel shirts and I roll up to my elbows,
With rainbow emojis that must belong next to our names on Instagram.
But let me tell you,
I’m queer in my skinny jeans,
I’m queer in my femme dresses,
I’m queer with my hair left down, still brown,
I’m queer even if I don’t check off the boxes you drew so neatly on your ‘gay or nay?’ List.
maybe leave building the gaydar to us.
Thank you for the box,
But let me tell you, my love,
In this box, you’ll find at least a thousand shades of Grey,
Purer that your white and deeper than your black,
Filled with colours that you can’t even begin to perceive,
Maybe because you lack cones in your retina,
Or maybe, you just don’t wish to see the world we’ve crafted,
A world that doesn’t have your ideas of patriarchy, binary and heteronormativity.
But it’s beautiful, trust me.

I take the 4 colours in abundance from my palette,
Paint a flag,
That I wrap myself with as I march through the streets of Delhi celebrating pride,
That I pick in anchor threads that I use to weave keychains and bracelets as subtle reminders of
my identity when I enter spaces where I still find my throne in the closet,
I take these feelings with them,
Write you new pieces of poetry,
And call myself art.