Repetition.

If you repeat something over and over again it loses its meaning.
Or so I’d heard.

So I repeated those words
I’d been so afraid to say out loud,
hoping that they would actually lose their meaning
like I pretended they had.

I was molested as a child.
I was molested as an adolescent.
I was molested as a teenager.
I was molested as an adult.
I was molested.
I was molested.
I was molested.

No, it didn’t work.
Not entirely.
The words may have lost their meaning
but their meaning has not lost its significance,
because it still haunts me
even when I’m not actively thinking about it
because it has already cast its shadow over me
and I have never lived without its weight on my shoulders
because I don’t know how to,
it’s all I’ve ever known,
even when I convinced myself to believe otherwise.

Every time I touched my body,
whether it was to run my fingers down my arm
or to rest my palm on my thigh,
I could feel your hands where they didn’t belong,
and for that moment
no matter how short it was,
I felt scared and dirty,
like my own body didn’t belong to me
and I had no right to it,
no command over it.

Every day I wondered
how much of myself was a result of what you did to me.
Which pieces of my broken, damaged self
were from the impact of your assault,
when you shattered my childish innocence
with your invasive hands.

Every day I thought
that you were only a few years older to me,
still a child yourself-
lost and hurt-
you didn’t know what you were doing,
you didn’t realise you were a molester.
I made all these excuses
and convinced myself that I had forgiven you,
that it no longer affected me-
but I still cannot be alone in a room with you
without feeling the need to scream and sprint away.
I thought I was healed completely,
but in reality
I couldn’t even say the words out loud:
I was molested.
I was molested.
I was molested.

No, I was not molested.
You molested me.
You molested me
when you decided to attack my lips,
you molested me every time you groped me-
I beg to know
what was so uncontrollably arousing
about an eight year old’s unformed breasts.
You molested me every time
you accidentally brushed your hands against me,
you molested me when you decided
that shoving your hand down my shirt every chance you got,
unfazed even in a crowded theatre,
even in your own living room
with my sister a few feet away
and the possibility of your mother walking in-
Oh how I hate that woman for having given birth to you,
and not to have abandoned you
when she had the opportunity to do so.
You molested me in my own home,
you molested me in my own car.
And there was nothing I could do about it,
because I didn’t think anything could be done,
after all,
I wasn’t even safe in my own house anymore.

If you repeat something over and over again it loses its meaning.
You molested me.
You molested me.
You molested me.

No, it hasn’t lost its meaning.

Pandora’s Box.

I still remember my first kiss,
though I wish I didn’t.

It was sloppy, unexpected and uncomfortable.
That’s not how a kiss is supposed to be,
that’s not how someone’s lips should be caressed for the first time,
that wasn’t even a caress.

I was an eight year old
whom you thought to be asleep,
and decided that it was the perfect situation,
perfect opportunity for a kiss,
so you smashed your lips onto mine
and your tongue dripped saliva all over my lips,
which had tightened shut,
though you didn’t notice that,
the same way you didn’t notice my body tense
and reject this invasion,
because perhaps you assumed
that I liked being assaulted
with our parents in the front seat,
and perhaps you took my silence for consent,
but that wasn’t consent
that was merely the confused innocence of an eight year old
who didn’t know what to do
what to say
or what to feel;
and the only hint I had of there being something wrong
with what was happening
was the loud shriek of the woman in my head;
I didn’t quite know what she was screaming about
but her voice sounded like an animal in pain,
an animal who has been pierced by a bullet
but it doesn’t know it has been shot
because bullets don’t exist in its realm of dangers.

I was an eight year old child
and you molested me, repeatedly.

I’m eighteen now and I have never held my breasts,
because I still feel dirty every time I try to do so.
Thank you, for leaving me incapable
of checking for lumps
or just holding them for the sake of it,
because they’re a part of my body.
Thank you for robbing me of my right to my body,
I hope you’re satisfied.

You robbed my ability to ever be intimate
because I learned at a young age
that my body will never quite be my own,
that anybody, anywhere could and would impose on it
and there would be nothing I could do about it
because I don’t know what to do.
I don’t think I have the right to saying ‘no’
because I’ve never really even learned to do so.

I’ve been taught to be cautious
around every man I encounter;
I’ve been taught that not all friends are friends;
I’ve been taught that I can never truly be safe-
but you taught me that when I least expected it,
you taught me that even before I needed to learn it;
I can’t tell this to the people
who teach me about those lessons
and do everything in their power to ensure my safety
about this breach of security
because they will be shattered to hear of it.
So, I shall continue to silently smile
and convince myself that I am fine.
But I promise you,
one day I shall learn to be intimate with a man,
one day I shall touch my breasts
for the sole reason that they’re mine
and I have the right to do so;
One day, I shall learn to say no.

Winter.

Cold kisses,
warm liquids,
muffled giggles,
cozy blankets,
old poems,
scented candles,
soft melodies,
fresh flowers,
dim lights,
interlaced fingers,
whispered secrets,
clumsy waltzes,
dizzying twirls,
racing heartbeats,
stolen glances,
cheek caresses;

If only winter did not have to end,
You must know I really could love you.

Home.

You’re home to me,
but I am a wanderer
and I find utmost pleasure
in fluttering around like a butterfly,
never pausing
for more than the few moments required
to soak in my surroundings
before soaring away, again.
I am a wanderer
and I find utmost pleasure
in walking through unfamiliar territory,
unearthing their treasures
while failing to understand the native tongues,
inhaling the air
so foreign to my lungs.

You’re home to me,
but sometimes, you can’t be the home I need.
Sometimes, I need a wooden lodge
with embroidered rugs
and oil paintings,
a brick fireplace,
and dim lights that flood it
with the warmth I require
after a long day of being kissed
by the cold lips of the icy wind
as I rush down slopes
of soft, silver snow.
Sometimes, when I’m sleeping
under the stars,
and the moon serves as my night-lamp,
the chirping crickets my music,
and the trees my only company,
I only need a hammock
to rock myself to sleep
in tune with the waves
that gently caress the shore.
Sometimes, when my body aches
and my soul is exhausted,
I need a soft bed and a blanket,
surrounded with white walls
as blank as my mind
and carved lanterns
that decorate them with shadows.

You’re home to me,
and while I may occasionally require repose
away from you,
you must understand
that it is not because you are any less comforting,
but because I need to roam,
I need to go away
in order to return
and I would never take you for granted
but the knowledge
that you will be waiting
with the same familiar fragrance
of scented candles
and the same song
of the birds outside my window,
is what gives me the courage
to wander a little farther each time I go.

You’re home to me,
but you can’t always be homely.

Hushed.

You mustn’t talk about it
because it’s highly personal
and you mustn’t share such intimate details
with everyone you encounter
by discussing it so openly,
so casually,
so candidly.

You must make sure
that the only time you engage the activities
is in the privacy of your own home
or any such establishment
where you can be assured
that you shall not have any witnesses
who may or may not be uncomfortable
by the sight of you.

You mustn’t flaunt your identity-
it is disrespectful,
make sure you keep it well concealed
until you are within the confines of your own home
and even then you must maintain caution,
do not do anything
that could possibly offend the majority
because you shall be brutally punished
and shamed should you do so.

You must treat your religion like we treat sex.
Private, sacred, silenced and offensive.

Survival.

I nearly drowned once.
I watched the light at the surface become smaller and smaller
until it was no larger than a speck of dust in an ocean of darkness,
as I ascended deeper and the blue turned into a black
which left me blindly staggering,
unable to find my direction,
unable to tell if I was close to the surface which awaited me
with fresh air and new life,
or whether I was closer to the bottom-
if there even was a bottom because I was tired of falling.
It felt like I was tied down
but the chains that had me tethered were nothing but my own hands
and the weight on my shoulders that had me spiralling downwards
was nothing but the weight of what my neck supported,
and as the pressure increased I could feel my lungs caving into themselves
and my throat ran dry though I was surrounded by water,
my hands shivered and trembled
and my legs could not have carried me had I tried to walk,
if I could even muster the courage to attempt to do so.

I nearly drowned once.
The only thing worse than wanting to swim
but being unable to do so out of sheer exhaustion
caused by being propelled deeper into a tide
where every wave is a tempest,
the only thing worse than the helplessness you feel
when you know that all the will in the world would not be enough
to get your body to swim,
is the horror you feel every time you let the foaming waves gently caress your ankles,
and you’re reminded of how your body felt
like it had been carrying every grain of sand
on the beach you are standing on,
when you are suddenly washed over by a fear
that makes you tremble,
afraid of losing your footing and plummeting
back into the deep depths
you fought so hard to swim out of.
The only thing worse than having nearly drowned
is the fear lives on
and surfaces every time you’re at a beach
and the sound of the ocean fills your ears,
and suddenly the sound of the ocean
is substituted by a cackling static
like that of a spoilt radio
and it doesnt stop,
as though your mind is, at once,
both blank
and sweeping with waves of dread,
one thought crashing over the other
before the first has the chance to retract;
suddenly the sand has vanished from under your feet
and the waves are crashing down on your chest
with a ferocity so intense it breaks your ribs,
shattering them
like the rocks which have been powdered into the sand
that seems to have flooded your blood,
and they pierce your lungs and puncture your heart
which is struggling to continue pumping life into you,
fighting against the tide of terror
that is trying to drown you.

I nearly drowned once.
The water is still in my lungs.

Blank.

I can’t think of anything to write
which is weird
considering I’m almost always thinking in poetry
and there’s very few moments in the day
when I’m not thinking of how I could write a poem
about that very moment,
that very thought,
that very emotion-
even when I’m feeling nothing at all;
but do we ever truly feel nothing at all
or is nothingness perhaps a feeling too?
I’m not sure if I can put it into words
because how do you articulate nothingness,
how do you use words to describe the things you feel
when you feel devoid of all emotions?
It’s a rather unusual thing to have to explain.

Nothing. Nothingness.
There’s an odd sense of doom that accompanies these words
and somehow I find it absurd,
though incorrigible.
Why is ‘nothing’ perceived so negatively?

Nothingness. Emptiness. Hollowness.
These shouldn’t be such…dirty words.
Nothingness and emptiness and hollowness
have so much potential.
They’re so incredibly versatile
because nothingness
and emptiness
and hollowness can be filled
with anything at all.
Maybe that’s what makes us so cautious about them.
Maybe nothingness and emptiness and hollowness
only makes us afraid
because it makes us unsure and doubtful and uncertain,
makes us nervous under the burden
of the responsibility that accompanies potential.
Maybe nothingness and emptiness and hollowness
are just fancy synonyms for a blank sheet of paper.