Memoirs of a Misfit

Sanjukta Ghoshal

‘Rehana’ - the name that my mother had given me
Glowed bright on the board for everyone to see-
I had topped my class again and our teacher beamed
But Joanna’s proud eyes were the happiest it seemed.
I liked Joanna, I loved her slender waist and pointy chin
I liked looking into her eyes that held vibrant dreams.

Once our teacher caught hold of a secret note of ours,
Where Joanna had written our names in hearts and flowers.
He sat us down in his room and said- “ Love is something pure-
Yours isn’t love - it’s just a phase you’ll grow out of for sure.”
In two years, Joanna grew out of that ‘phase’ - I didn’t!
I nursed a broken heart, but kept it well-hidden.

It was 2010 when I met Iva : It was love at first glance,
Her fulsome red lips had put me in trance.
That was also the year I came out to my parents, and-
I couldn’t have done it without holding Iva’s hand.
“Abomination of my flesh!” my father had shouted-
My brother chipped in - “I had always doubted.”

My mother sobbed and wailed -“ You’ve crushed my dreams-
What kind of Muslim woman has these barmy whims?”
I stood there perplexed but didn’t let go off Iva’s hands,
Young love stood in pride in spite of the reprimands.
“Education was your undoing, should’ve kept you veiled,
Leave, and don’t come back”-my father had finally said.

By 2015 I was all alone, trying my hands at theatrics,
I got cast in some side-roles : “Your doe-eyes do the trick”-
That’s what Ella said when she first looked into mine,
She fell in love with me, and I, with her smile benign.
We moved to our new place amid our whirlwind romance,
She renamed me Renee - that’s how they say ‘reborn’ in France.

Ella felt like home, she was what I had been waiting for,
I was so drunk in her love, it felt like a happy stupor.
We had a pretty home with balcony to view the beach,
We stood there every twilight, sharing the perfect kiss.
I thanked my stars for, in Ella, I had found my perfect fit,
Amid marches and pride parades- our duo was a hit.

Yet on rainy nights like this, if I happen to be alone,
Memories of Rehana comes haunting me like a long-lost song.
Once more I crave for my mother’s tender touch,
Ah, those cherished family-dinners !-I miss as much.
And through the doors I had tightly shut, regret does creep in-
Was standing up for myself and my love really a big sin?

It was 2018, when they declared three-seventy-seven dead,
We sang, danced, reveled in glory, but nothing much did change.
For when the little boy from next floor asks me for my name,
His mother still pulls him back, and it hurts me all the same.
I have realized I’m a misfit , and I’ll be one in years to come,
And I’ll await the day my parents have me and Ella over for lunch.

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