For the launch of the KYBKYR 2.0 campaign, Shirin Choudhary, a 2016 TYPF Fellow, performed spoken word poetry on her experiences in the Know Your Body, Know Your Rights programme. The poem speaks for itself, so without further ado:
My mother and I speak a language that is shy.
We watch movies together
And wriggle uncomfortably in our seats
When there is a kissing scene.
Avoiding eye contact like we might contract a bug
If we acknowledged the feeling in our tummies.
My mother and I
Don’t talk about boys.
We have learnt how to talk around boys:
We talk about the troubles they cause when they are around
But not the flowers that bloom when we like one.
The first time I told my mother I was doing sex education with kids
She looked at me like I was one of the boys on TV:
Part disbelief, part discomfort,
And mostly as if she would contract a bug
If we acknowledged that I knew what sex was.
That may have been the first time we even said the word in our house.
My mother and I don’t talk about boys.
Sometimes I want to tell her that
The workshops are the only place
I stretch out like a morning yawn
And allow myself the space to talk about sex.
When a young girl asks me if I have ever done it,
We both giggle. There is no silence here,
No awkward wriggling in our seats,
Only proud acknowledgement of our bodies and our desires.
I want to tell mother that
Sometimes I wish we could stretch out like that:
Like ocean on a beach, claiming ownership,
Like a dream of endless kisses and pleasure.
I want to talk to my mother about sex,
I want to tell her that my friends and I
Write poems about it and read to each other
On quiet monsoon nights.
I want to tell her that desire wells up in my body
And breaks out like a lazy morning yawn.
I want to tell her that in my workshops we speak
A language that is shy. A language that is full of questions
And ideas and desire. A language that acknowledges
That it feels good to feel good.
My mother and I don’t talk about boys. We don’t talk about girls either.
If I want to come out as “bi”, first I have to come out as “sexual”.
If I want to talk about desire, first I have to talk about having a body.
If I want to talk about love, first I have to talk about
Someday I want my mother to see me what I do best:
sprawl out like a bold valley in full bloom
valley of pleasure and love
space for a desire that is usually wrapped in silence:
a space for you, me
and maybe my mother to
talk about sex.