Despite;

Tanvi Gupta

I saw the bloodstains on my bedsheets,
I felt intolerable pain in my stomach,
If only I were a boy,
My 12-year-old-self cried herself to sleep.

Growing up, I soon became aware of my bodily changes,
My thighs grew fatter,
my hips wider;“No, I refuse to wear a bra,” I yelled back at my mother,

Why did becoming a woman have to cage any part of me?

I only felt alive when I was on the playground,
But slowly, I was the only girl to be seen;
The running got harder; my body wore down sooner,

Puberty was nothing but a sin to me.

I soon realized I couldn’t escape being a woman,
But sometimes, that’s all I’d wish for endlessly.
Like the days I could walk down streets carelessly,
Or the days, I didn’t need to pull down my skirt below my knees;

I was thirteen when I first learned what ‘rape’ meant
The news flashed about how a woman had been left murdered on the street;
I puked inside my mouth, and cried almost instantaneously,

“What did she do wrong?” I asked my mother in disbelief.

I was fifteen when I let a boy first touch me,

It was ‘true love’, I told myself repeatedly,

Yet I cried after; it didn’t feel good to me,
I had told him to stop,

but he begged me “please.”

“Stop being such a girl,”
Yet my tears would stream down constantly,

It’s not that simple; I begged others to see:
“I’m not crying because I’m sensitive; why can’t anyone take me seriously!”

It took me a while, but I found a way to appreciate myself,
Treated my body like a temple, despite the extra fat here and there;

Being a woman wasn’t a sin, I had finally learned for myself
Being a woman can be painful, but I found beauty in this pain

Poem

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