Neeli Nilain.


My dupatta cloaks my bosom in loose drapes
the way your symbols and beeps cloak the string of abuses
that I adamantly vociferate in protest
against the way you use the wrinkled cloth
to cover my bright blue hair in its dull, cream shroud;
you would never forgive me if your aunties were to catch a glimpse
of my blue waterfalls and drown in shock, would you?

You demand that I remove my bindi-
it is not mine to wear, you say-
but, the shop keeper that I bought it from
seemed to have no apprehensions
when I paid him my own twenty rupees,
and I believe it rather completes my outfit
with its subtle hint of desi,
and it only enhances the condescension
of my raised eyebrows
when you, yet again, lecture me
on how I do not understand
the significant culture attached, so sacredly,
to a small, round dot with glue on one side.

You glare at me as I color my lips
a shade of dark maroon-
it’s the color of the devil’s blood, i presume
or perhaps the shade of Judas’ deplorable locks-
and you nod your head with exasperation
when I wear my glittery, glass bangles-
I do not understand, their bright blue matches my hair
and they cover the small tattoo near my wrist,
which you so vehemently abhor-
I see no reason for your disgust.

I wink at my reflection.
Your saari blouse matches my skirt perfectly,
and I am certain it will compliment my legs beautifully,
as I kneel down during the puja.

I notice you, still watching me
with an expression of blatant disapproval
plastered across your face,
so I raise one hand and hold it straight
like I am taking an oath-
to plague your life a little less, you hope-
and the other, I hold up with two fingers raised-
the white flag of my generation-
my tongue hanging out the slightest bit,
a small smirk playing across my stained lips
when I watch your expression transform into one
of amused disbelief;
I am a goddess,
I look divine enough!


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