An Affair with Porcelain Turtles

a/ I am looking for my lost voice
for telling a story of my secret love affair with porcelain turtles and …

I do not know what to keep

Love friendship or sex

It’s easier when it’s trivial

like stitching papers with a stapler

or cutting clippings from the newspaper on things

that matter in the long run….

What is it that really matters in the long run?

Money comes, money goes. Friends come, friends go

And love is too abstract for any kind of explanation

It’s easier when you’re good at giving a heart

My porcelain turtles say, what’s in front of you
is only the beginning of a vast horizon:

a peasant man waiting to take me for my ride to office,

a wide cup of latte & sudden appearance
of a scholarly man in the café I’d loved,

a small cup of tea & a cabin girl on the chair next to me telling me to go faster

a table with many chairs and some new folks tuning into my lost voice

b/ You heard a woman on television say once,

“It’s only sex, not a space rocket launch!”

Buses, prams, trains and planes have schedules

no one waits

for late comers

Deadlines are flashing on every news channel

You cannot afford to rush

to meet your match, your crush, your lover and friend

You are at the back of your race and it’s only the waves

catching up with you, carrying you and cleansing you of all the dirt on your body

and keep going, keep going, keep going back to where they came from

leaving you at a signal station where you are lost for words again

to tie up this little band-

width of friendship we have scaled.



Not even in footnotes can I encompass
my sense of expansiveness since
you left. Funny

I stayed away from writing countless
when we loved. It wasn’t merely
friendly antipathy

to low kins of romance – it was how much
you wanted that representation.
That I scratch tree

barks has more to it than cute. That Sindhi
meal you wanted
to make
eat was more you

(hunger). I’m hungry since you left
I’m vast. Enough to devour
you if I choose

Only you’d chalk my cannibalistic to
more craziness. Scratch
that tree and

find me eccentric flesh erratic blood. Since
you left I can plot with peace and
not be accused

conspiracy. The creek is more vivid to me
appropriates serene and
cleans little

worms in memories practising pain. One
day I’ll write you a song of

moment I’m graphing sense of insides also
absorbed in mild grass sun me
(I am large)

I’ve been afraid of confronting you in
countless but since you left
this came on auto

I even speak of it to people I don’t know
too well.

A Desi Queer

My inability to articulate the alternative of Queer in my own language, often results in anxiety. Why is my queerness so un-desi? And why am I presumed to be an advocate of metropolitan gay culture when I identify as queer? (I cannot perhaps entirely detach myself from it. But still…)

Quite recently, the notions attached with “Queer” acquired new meaning, much beyond the existing connotations of “fag”. Queer is not gay, not lesbian or trans* identity. It challenges not only some of the fundamental ideas of gender, sexuality and heteronormativity but also contests the hegemonic frame of actions or theories that claim, eventually, to bring about benefits to human kind. In fact, it may be misleading to associate this term with gay/lesbian liberation and related activism. It seems to transcend whatever established paradigms have to offer; it demands exploration of what works for you as an autonomous individual. As a queer, I may not have any emotional, political or theoretical affinity with the “westernized” discourse on sexuality (in the presence of my own more earthy folk traditions), yet I have to use this word because I speak a language that I am not a product of.

Unsurprisingly, there is a lot of negativity and ambiguity around this word. A friend of mine posed a fundamental question once: “Look, I am a gay, I adore lesbians, I respect trans people and I ‘tolerate’ heterosexuals. I am kind of cool. Why do I need this queer stuff?” This led me to think again about the nature and notion of “diversity”. That further induced the deconstruction of the compartmentalized kingdom of sexual phylums. What were the notions of gay, bi or hetero like, before they were articulated? How was heterosexuality defined?

Maybe “normalness” was contrasted with “other” sexual-nesses; but the idea of power relation between the “superior” and the “inferior” remained prevalent in all historical and cultural contexts. The power structure not only created and exploited gender divisions, it also abused sexual “perverts”. Creating categories based on power disparities suits the existing structures. It is in fact the fuel of the economy, it keeps the ball rolling. The modern day reactionary or proud sexuality-related political identities are evolved forms of a gendered system that historically put a huge demographic on the margins.

Sexuality was and is gendered. The concept of grey areas in gender and sexuality is unusual. Everything is black and white; man and woman; trans gender but either man or woman; fucker and fuckee. Why can a hijra not celebrate his/her greyness, why is it compulsory to choose between “he” and “she”? And most importantly, why these boundaries, when we claim to celebrate diversity? Has it ever been given a chance to flourish?

Queer is, in fact, challenging these hegemonies of power and marginalisation.

Diversity is choice, not imposition. And the binary system definitely reinforces and later re-imposes the normative, the normal and the black & white dichotomy. We unconsciously follow, obey and react. Frustrating. But my Queer-ness soothes me as it always registers its stance on freedom and celebration of diversity. Although I couldn’t find any word in my language, Queer is meaningful to me as a word of solidarity and inclusivity.