Ma, we should begin again. I need you to pay attention. I need you to forget that you birthed a son. I need you to consider the possibility of complete destruction. Of annihilation of joy, violation of flesh. Of the lack of resistance, of the possibility of despair. & of all of this happening behind your back. This is not a failure at motherhood, but the failure of a body in resistance. In not opening up the body to the possibility of joy. In standing at the threshold of manhood and not knowing where to step foot.
I entered boyhood and embodied war
[I think I don’t fall in love Ma, I crash in, head spinning, bones shivering and pride chipping away]
Summer and fresh cotton, bodies sweating, the nylon sticking to our bellies. The damp air in the freshly painted classrooms. His hands reaching, suddenly he’s there. Suddenly he’s pressing there, his hands gathering the mass of flesh we never got to naming. & he’s laughing. So, I laugh too. Four years later when I stand in the shower trying to wash away the scent of his body from mine when he was nothing but tender is how I know that summer afternoon I was violated.
Or that winter when the air was so cold you could feel it in your nose, feel the chill in your throat. The roads empty and us under a tree at night, the world barely visible in December fog. Then he takes hold of me and pushes me against a wall, rubbing his body in and out. I submitted into violence because the only way my body could be desired was for devastation. I became his favourite joke, Ma. We both laughed 3 summers.
Then go back, Ma. Way back. When he unzipped and said I would be put in place, that he would show me what I was made of. That I was destined to be nothing, built to be violated. What he taught me of touch is to stand at the brink of complete devastation, with your hands behind your back, chanting forgive me, forgive me, forgive me. Forgive me because once we begin, I will fail to separate desire from devastation. I want to be erased into nothingness.
It was in the air Ma, the dumb angst of teenage, boys becoming men. Bodies learning violence, boys learning how to lay claims on everything. So his vehicle stops in front of mine & he pulls me by my collar. Faggot, faggot, faggot, motherfucker stay in your place. Faggot. So I stayed in my place Ma, laughed at his jokes and let him do it all over again. Let him push me to the brink. A body can only resist so much, before it becomes open ground. So I let them all in Ma, one of them is still here. If I listen closely, I can hear him calling me a faggot. If I think hard enough, I can remember letting him do it.
He looked there and doubted the presence of the piece of flesh that was supposed to mark me man. He wanted to check Ma. He wanted to put his hands in, trace my flesh and have proof. Tangible proof of my belongingness. He did, Ma. & his hands never lifted up. They’re still here when this guy wants to kiss me goodnight. Violation betrays any possibility of joy. No joy possible, Ma. Impossible.
So let me put it this way – I am 19 and alive. The biggest thing I’ve ever done is to reach the end and resist erasure. I remember you in the kitchen, against the dimming Sun, planning everything as if survival was guaranteed. Maybe that’s what resistance is Ma, to violently believe in the endurance of flesh, to know you’re untouchable until you’re not put into the ground. To love till they take you out. They can’t take us out.
Sarthak is a 19-year-old First-Year at NLSIU, Bangalore. He spends his time looking up for poems that can break your heart.