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In a kindergarten school, you will find varieties of kids: to one class will fall the notorious mischief makers, another will include the hyperactive extroverts who would always talk their opinions loud in the class and a third class which would accommodate a rather smaller crowd of kids who would look around and observe things in silence, who would shout their views  in their childlike brains and would actually be omnipresent without actually giving a slightest hint of their omnipresence; a rare class to which people like me would fall- the introverts.

As a kid, I was an introvert; and not the kind of introverts who would post “#iamanintrovert” on social media shouting out loud to the world of them being introverts, but the kind which by law fitted the definition of being “a shy, reticent person”, the kind which chose to sit alone watching the other children run around and play. Back then, I didn’t know if being that much of an outcast was much of an issue. Even now, I’m not sure if being an introvert is cool or a stigma; there would be one opinion less in the world and it, in no way would endanger the world of being turned upside down.

I had just this one friend who would, be it rain or shine, stay with me, as we walked around haunting the playgrounds like ghosts. She too was more or less like me: soft spoken, monosyllabled opinions. Introverts understood introverts, like two peas in a pod. We were inseparable. As the other kids played, we sat under the trees, sometimes talking, sometimes just chewing candies- two introverts made for each other.

Then, one fine day, she decided to play with her elder sister, two years senior to us. She invited me to join her too. I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea: two kindergarten students with a bunch of grade two hooligans. But needless to say, I had this one friend (one of the many side effects of being an introvert) so I reluctantly followed her.

The game was called “Catch the thief”, as simple game of one girl (the thief) being chased by a bunch of other girls (the police) – like a cat and mouse chase. With some kind of cross paper scissor done, my friend was chosen as the thief and I with the bunch of seniors was a police. The game began. I ran with the others, trying to match my steps with them. Imagine a cat running along with a crowd of lions. My dear introvert friend ran as hard as she could, with her little feet flapping along the floor. But can a cat outrun a pride of lions? One of the seniors caught hold of her pinafore. Another went after and blocked her front. I tried to run fast too and I did, I was close when I felt a sudden lateral drift and a bash from behind.

The next few seconds went in daze: I lay flat, pressed on the floor- as I felt a heavy weight get off my body, I struggled to get up- the first thing I saw was another senior tumbled sideways from my body, her mouth wide gaped- someone scream, cried- the nurse rushed toward me, pulled me up and pressed my nose with her thumb- every single student in the hallway gazed at me- she carried me to the sick room- still pressing my nose, she washed my face-and as she removed her thumb, there was blood, all over it- she bandaged the wounds on my knees. And only after she handed me a glass of water did I realize it was me screaming, crying. The water tasted metal, not just the glass of water that I drank but also the rivulets that dripped down my face, into my mouth. Something was bleeding. But what?

I missed the first class after break, lying on the sick bed. Later I was just an hour before school got over was I taken to my class. I was asked to sit back with my head titled behind, resting on my bag.

Dad was horrified to find me in a white shirt that was now vermillion from the collar.

Only at home did I come to know that I had broken my nose. That day was probably a turning point in my cosmetics. I had a nose with a deviation to the right. The nasal septum deviation, later blessed me with more problems of rhinitis and inferior turbinate hypertrophy.

I guess it was a part of growing up. A traumatic part, but still a part of my kid- life.

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Hope shall still shine, even if someone has pushed you down, and another crab has pulled you right after. Mind you, they can knock you down but they can’t knock you out unless you let them do it.

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I have never been a good dancer- to the public- I don’t dance. Even so, I do at home when I’m alone and my phone is playing my favorite song.

To the outside world, I dare not tap my feet as the music grooves. But secretly when I’m all by myself and there’s no one around to witness, I move my hips like Shakira.

But that’s me now (I’m quite embarrassed to accept the truth). What I’m about to tell you is one of the many queer incidents of my childhood which involves me, dancing and dhoti.

Bihu is a traditional festival of Assam which beyond the bars of religion, is more of a festival including dancing, singing and gift taking (vice-versa). Bihu dance is a popular form of dance which in the erstwhile Assam was performed in open fields- it being more or less of a singing duel between the male and the female dancers. While the females dressed themselves up in the colourful, embroidered floral Muga Mekhela-chadar, the males donned dhoti and Muga jackets.

For those of you wondering what dhoti is, it’s just a piece of white cloth, which when draped skillfully around your waist and legs, forms a kind of loose trouser which successfully protects your dignity…most of the times.

I studied in an all-girls school. So, due to the unavailability of boys, the rough and tough, tom-boys were picked up to play masculine roles in dramas and dances. Owing to my boy’s cut hair, I too had to once bear the baton and be a boy-dancer; that too in our Bihu festivities. Which obliquely implied me wearing dhoti, raising my hands in the air, partially flexing my hip and smiling at the beautiful girls flirtatiously. I was just a third grader then. And in my company were girls from first to tenth grade.

The next day, we had our quarterly exams in the morning and hence were instructed to bring along with us our costumes which we would eventually wear once our exams got over and the festivities started. However an overzealous friend of mine probably heard only the “costumes” part and hence, the next morning, she was seen, all clad in ochre and white, ready to dance any time soon.

Our exams got over and while we were all busy draping the white piece of cotton linen over our groin, the other girl was busy, sampling spraying her clothes with deodorant; while I on the other hand tied as many pins as possible to tighten the dhoti and finally sealing the upper part with a Gamosa.

And then the dance started off. We were supposed to dance as long as the Principal himself got tired of dancing and walked on the stage to conclude the program.

Fifteen minutes into dancing, the others around me pretty much forgot that we were dressed trans our gender and our wardrobes could malfunction any time soon. Especially that overzealous girl who would not stop shaking her hips, and her hands moved in sync with the music. On the other hand, my hips were more cautious of what was covering it.

The song tuned into a more upbeat one, more people chimed in to join the dance and as we kept jiggling our legs, the friend standing beside me all of a sudden crouched down, holding something. I looked at her. She was gathering something around her. And before I could realize, she stood up holding a piece of white, fidgeting with her dhoti. Maybe it was my conscience or something, for immediately I jumped right in front of her, covering as she draped it up, once again.

But for some reasons, she decided to quit for she pulled me by my dhoti, dragging me out, into the backstage. As she did that, I prayed, hoping against hope that my dhoti would not meet with the same fate. Once out of people’s eyes, I grimaced at her. She let go of me, changed herself into a pair of trousers and I sighed as I watched the principal walk up to the mic and conclude the dance show.

I sat there, thanking my stars and my pins for not letting me meet with the same fate while at the back of my mind, I decided: Next time, I shall dance only after knowing the costume for it.     

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Sometimes we forgive, but don’t forget…

But what’s reality is that forgetting a terrible past is the beginning of forgiving…

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Because I am a feminist and everyday is Women’s Day for me 😎

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Mine

Someday you will find someone

Who would love your scars

And turn them soft.

Someday you will find someone

Who would clothe your barren body

To drape you in the love you deserve.

Someday you will find someone

Who would kiss your weak lips

To watch your smile.

Someday you will find someone

Who would pull your hesitant hands

To call you “mine “.

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I don’t wish to be that girl

Who came into your life

Like a hale wind

And faded away like dust.

I wish to be that page in your notebook

That you would turn

Over and over to

Every other time you’re out of answers.

That gem on your watch

That would catch your eye

No matter what time

You glanced at it.

And that blanket

That would wrap you around

No matter when

You feel lone and chilly.

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