Modest Mistakes


In the bazaar
My mother and I
Were crossing the road
When three boys
Went right past us
And one of them
Let out
Big Shout
I did not move
Because, I’m a bit slow
When it comes to processing events
My mother, however
Was startled
I opened my mouth to curse at them
But then she clenched my hand
And it was a sign
Not to

I learnt where this instinct comes from
And I know why she stopped me
My mother has been taught by her mother
To never be a retaliator
Heck, never be an initiator
And she taught me this that moment, as well

I learnt that this has been passed down to us
Because as soon as our daughters learn to walk
With their back straight
We try to bend it down
Shame and compromise are stuffed down our throats
Before we learn to speak

I learnt that this cycle will never end
Because I’ve been scripted to belong
Not to myself
But to someone else
I am someone’s

I learnt that there is no visible way out
Society gets to label me
My own gender does
Like my mother
I was taught
“To be good and quiet”
Each level defined
Belonging in the grey zone
No black or white
What those boys did
They might have forgotten

But, today
Things were made clear
That in the act of brining this generation up
We have repeated the same mistake
The mothers of our mothers made
Letting it slide under the pretext
“Boys will be boys”
And slowly but gradually
We successfully managed
To bend
Our daughters back


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