Kali


You are a nothing

It was my mother’s fault that she birthed

Me on the banks of Kaveri

For try as they did they could not wash the black alluvial soil off my skin.

Kali

Little piece of coal my mother’s brother calls me

As he pretends he can’t spot me in the darkened birthing chamber

It sounds very cute when said in Tamil.

An endearment.

Kali

This one just got baked a little longer in the oven laughs my father when

My mother guiltily presents him with yet another daughter

One whose skin only a paddy farmer could love.

Kali

I am six when I am made to understand that

I who was proudly showing off my 99% in Maths was less than my best friend,

At least I’m fairer than you she says,

Sadly looking down at her own 73% marks

Kali

Raahat Ali hisses the epithet in class 3, that I…

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