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,

soz

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