untangling the pleats

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I’m on my way to school, 
wearing the same grey plaid skirt 
that I’ve worn since the past 7 years, 
I untangle the pleats,
one by one,
my heart tangles a little. 


I sit in the assembly
we’re discussing laws today, 
right to life, 
right to freedom of speech and expression,
right to privacy,
section 377. 
“it is a sin,” shouts a voice from the back, 
“abnormal,” shouts one from the front,
“should not be allowed,” chimes in from my side.
The audience growls in unison, “abnormal”
I see myself mouth the same word 
over and over and over and over again.
I fall in with the crowd,
today I am normal. 


I paint two girls in my art class, 
there faces fairly engulfing each other, 
her hand over her hips,
the other wanders a little wildly, 
i taste the shade of their lips on paper.
13 minutes later,
my art professor tears the sheet in 32.


middle of my day, 
we’re out in the field, 
tiffin boxes and laughter, 
empty tiffin boxes and laughter.
I make a list of 43 ways, 
to tell my friend 
there is a closet,
that I refuse to hide inside. 
She giggles,
and I smell sunshine, 
44 ways now. 


the washroom cubicle is a closet, 
that I walk in and out of, 
in and out, 
in and out, 
in and out, 
in and out. 
I’ve heard metaphors 
help deal with reality.
I’m not closeted anymore, 
I feel naked today,
I stare at myself 
in the broken scarred bathroom mirror
that my school hasn’t changed 
in the past 73 years, 
I refuse to wipe off my tears today, 
today I’m normal. 


my friend borrows my notebook
to copy the last 3 sentences of today’s classwork. 
As I hand it over,
covered in the uniform brown paper,
I remember the rainbows, 
and hearts, 
and “I want to 377 you”
scribbled over the last few pages. 
I snatch it back, 
I remember I’m normal today. 


i see colours a lot differently, 
I don’t wear black or white.
I don’t want to.
black and white, 
the closet I do not feel
like locking myself in, 
I don’t like calling it a closet either, 
my closet’s very colourful, 
it has 53 different shades of yellow,
it feels a lot like home. 
I call black and white a box, 
the brown cardboard box
that you sell your old newspapers in. 
I don’t want to be yesterday’s newspaper. 
I don’t feel at home there. 
Today I’m normal.


I’m on my way home, 
wearing the same grey plaid skirt 
that I’ve worn since the past 7 years, 
I let the pleats stay tangled, 
as I untangle my heart. 
today, I’m normal. 

_untangling the pleats 


a few days ago, my friend shared her story with me. This is dedicated to her; more power to you! 💙


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