My 13-year-old breasts are a growing, budding nuisance that feel weighty and uncomfortable under my petticoat and school pinafore. It is too early for a bra so my mother buys snug cotton vests meant for very young boys.
I wear them for a year before graduating to a bra.
It takes time getting used to this strap of a bandage around the ribs and back, that would always always have to be worn from now on, like a norm.
One afternoon while walking home from school, a group of boys accost me.
A tall boy reaches out, grabs, and squeezes my breast. The shanties around are deserted. Somewhere, a TV set blares.
I watch them go.
For days after that, I search the faces of passersby, wherever I go. Did they see it? Do they know what happened to me?
But not until my buttocks are pinched and breasts elbowed, not until lewd remarks change to lucid pick-up lines in the swelling years of my womanhood, do I realize there is an archive of ‘thesevery common things’, these unwritten norms.
phosphorus sky –
the gulmohar bursts
This first appeared in PoetryIndia.com.