my mother does not know i am wearing her sari. how long must I hide?

Words and poems by Soz

Pictures by Sohini Sengupta

my mother does not know i am wearing her sari, that my body does not find a home being a man or a woman, only changes sides on the binary to feel at ease with myself. at the prayers held after my grandfather’s death the audience sat in two groups. i only wanted to sit in between because on this spectrum i fail to find a spot for me. so i sat with my grandmother instead, holding her as her grief did not come out as tears and the audience was killing her with a facade of pain they did not feel.

my mother does not know i buy her saris only because i want to wear them and i hope i inherit them. like old books, kept over decades, her saris will be old enough to have a smell distinct from that of dust.

my mother does not know the sins my body has committed and she thinks that my body is a sanctum sanctorum, that god lives in me and a breath of another man on my skin will defile me. i want to tell her, “your god is too weak.” she still thinks her son is only a breath away from god, that god will still hold him when he dies but god is busy, he is not thinking of me, I do not think he even lives.

when i dream of telling my mother of my secrets, opening them one after another as knots entangled in a string of rope, i often dream of her holding me as i cry. when i think of telling her of my sins right from childhood, as a boy aged 9 wearing knickers in secrecy, her knickers on my body behind closed bathroom doors, i think of her understanding me, saying, “it is okay”.

when i think of opening another knot, telling her, “for that night i groped your breasts, i am sorry. for the next morning tears, i am sorry. i often wanted to come and tell you how sorry i was but i could not gather enough courage and for that, i am sorry. it still haunts me.”

when i tell her this, i want her to hug me. most of my life i have lived without my mother’s hug. i have often found my mother’s hug in a lover’s touch but it is just not the same.

when i think of my body, i think of my mother, i think of how my body resembles her more than my father. i wake up to realise, we live in a reality which does not value honesty and vulnerability. i know, my mother will never accept me as a part of her own, as a son when she knows my sins.

but what i do know is this

we all house secrets we never reveal and when we do, with our words we kill










with and in tenderness, vulnerability, intensity and love,


You may also like



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *