‘But some stay stiff, twitching and loud
With deep hoarse tears, as if a kind of dumb
And idiot child within them still survives
To re-awake at kindnesss…’
Philip Larkin, Faith Healing
‘I woke up ignorant in a forest;
only a moment ago, I didn’t know my voice
if one were given to me
would be so full of grief, my sentences
like cries strung together.
I didn’t even know I felt grief
until that word came, until I felt
rain streaming from me.’
Louise Gluck, Trillium
You only go to bed in the mornings these days. You can only bear to be awake with TV in the background these days. Or music, or the radio, or something, as long as its something. You are grateful for the ambulances and police cars that assault your streets. You’ve never watched these TV shows but you’ve memorised the scripts by now. When did you become this person? Was this descent gradual? Were you always like this, am I misremembering you? When did these unspeakable things (weight, decay, numbing, TV) happen to you? Am I grieving the loss of someone who never existed? Its easy to misremeber these things. Every single time you write, you have to write something Beautiful. It has to be more articulate and eloquent and gentle and funny than anything else, and of course it always censors the most violent things, or any semblance of your truth, so that people will read it and like you and they won’t hide from you when you exist as walking proof of evil in the world. When evil has been done to you you carry the evil inside your body and worry that you are it, and it touches you because you are predisposed to it. This is a legitimate concern. I often feel you are evil. I very rarely feel you are alive. What is death? You are already dead. Every moment of my existence I am dying under the weight of the Things that happened and I choose to be reborn and I die again under the silence of suffering a slow, painful childbirth. Alone on a mountaintop, or in a prison, or in the middle of two oceans parting, or wherever religions have martyred sad brown women over the years.
Why can’t you concentrate Priyanka? Why can’t you do anything right? Why is everything wrong wrong wrong wrong you can’t have friends you can’t get a degree you can’t get a job you can’t be beautiful (although you know you do not want the trauma of beauty) you can’t do much right and this is not an inspiration. I hate you because you are only seen when you write beautiful articles and when your pain can be used to teach and uplift others. When you are very broken and ugly people want you to shut up (those words keep punching me in the mouth) or they want to fix or worse they want to tell you, over and over again, you are an inspiration. You are an inspiration. You are an inspiration. You are not a human. You are an inspiration. You are my fantasy molded in the image I need of you today and then you are discarded when you are a dead bloated body. You are my inspiration.
Vulnerability is a privilege, I am coming to realise this. The people who hurt me never had problems accessing or expressing their feelings.
You dream of her plucking deep beneath your skin, thumbs, oranges. You can’t stop thinking about it. Thumbs, oranges. Why does it always come back to oranges? Her thumbs, although you wouldn’t want that at all, actually, and the thick rind of oranges, choosing choosing. Not choosing the English word, choosing the other one that you learnt from him like you learnt a lot of things. This language has always been a stupid one. He spoke it to you when he dropped you off on your new life, three years ago. He spoke it you and you wanted to cry you were healing this was home love was possible he was speaking you existed. Did he know, then? That you would never see each other again? Are his choices deliberate? Did he ever love you? Why did he stop loving you when you started loving oranges? You’ll never know. Deal with it.
Vulnerability is a privilege. You know this. Actually, like all realisations that will eventually make you into the person you are, that will drag you further and further away from your real age, that will lead people to ask you how many children you have, that you will pass onto younger women you love and they will say you are such an inspiration and you will think I am nothing I am only a bag of knowledge forced into me without my permission, this realisation will drown you in waves until soon you will be unhappily ashore again. Why does this hurt so much, now? You know how they feel about you. You have always known how they look at you. They do not love you. You can be the most gentle person in the world but you are brown and you are a dyke and you are ugly and you are not small and these are things to be happy for but it scares them and so they transmute their violent fantasies onto you to safely live them and so no matter how much you do to be gentle you will always be the aggressor they will always say your expectations of me are unrealistic / you’re scaring me / I must leave you now / shut up / you’re my inspiration / sometimes the bar you’ve set feels so high sometimes / I’ll get back to you in three months / believe me, I’ve thought everyday about what I want to say to you / you are the reason I hurt you / shut up / let me interrupt you / say thank you / why are you so angry / shut up / shut up / shut up / shut up
Will you always be alone? You were raped as a kid, raped when you left home and then again and again and again and again raped by someone you trusted, cats cradle, inside out, and everyone around you turned away. And they silenced you and kicked you out of your house and your community and it’s all you’ve wanted to say. Isn’t that just what you’ve wanted to say? Isn’t that what you’ve been trying to say? You have so few people left now. You have nothing. What would it take for someone to listen? Compounded is the word. Compounded.
You are dirty, you know this. This is not a bad thing. You know this is relative. The reason you are still alive is because many parts of you are perceived clean – your skin (relative); your gender (relative); your caste (absolute). There is power in calling yourself a dirty dyke, I like this. I like that in the darkest trenches (once again, you go deep sea diving quite a lot Priyanka) you’ve found a work that makes you feel safe. Queer was foisted upon me by the internet and unreadable books and white women. Lesbian and dyke have always been hurled at me. They are mine now. I love being incomprehensible, a threat, a source of fear, to men and women and to myself. In my fantasies she washes away the dirt with orange juice.
Who do you want to hear you, Priyanka? You had your baby. It was good, for that while. I’m proud of you for loving him. He had a hard life and a good death. And you spoke to him and you were safe. In these dark moments now, when you have to contend that, well, you are truly alone, and no one will ever love or understand or hear you like he did (they don’t want to / they can’t / they promise its been tried before but you have to shut up) you still write. You still draw. Why? Who do you want to hear you? And what does it matter when you speak? Who could possibly hold you?
In your dreams she is capable of loving you. You are not so scared and she loves like you do and you love each other. In reality she lives in a different world where men rule and she hates it but she likes it. No oranges grow.
I love you, Priyanka. I hate you so so much.
We both have so much pain inside of each other. So many memories we wish we could share in its wholeness. Not feelings here, race there, sexuality there, gender there, being loved in parts here, being loved in nothingness there. We both hold so much, alone and I hate that we only have each other. You’re not stupid, you’re not asking for a savior. I think you’re actually quite smart. And so you also know that the primary method of enacting and sustaining abuse and oppression to remove the victim from her community. When these people turned simultaneously, you lost everything. You feel like you have nothing now. And you miss them. This is understandable. You have never stopped loving people. Not even him. You know that privilege affords access to communities. To wholeness. To support. I don’t want you to be told that you have to do this alone anymore. She couldn’t have known what she was saying when she said what she said you only have yourself you are so strong you are such an inspiration because she is straight / orangeless / dead in a different way, and she doesn’t know what its like to not have a community. She never will. Lately you want to out yourself more and more, screech to everyone, I AM (you can’t say it here, don’t be naive) but you are what you are and one day you will be able to express that and that’s what I tell myself anyway, so you have a reason to not walk backwards over the ledge.
Why does it always come back to her thumbs?
I don’t know why you are alive. I don’t know why you keep getting killed. Truthfully, I don’t know if anyone will ever see you.