Stretched.

Trace the lightning in my stretchmarks
and tell me how strikingly beautiful you think I am.
Trace the branches of your favourite tree
And tell me why you think growth is beautiful.
These stretchmarks form like roots on my body
Love me from my beginning.
Tell me you know why I got these marks
Tell me you know why my body had to grow beyond its limits.
Let me tell you the story of how my skin stretched to cover up the parts of me I couldn’t understand.
These marks look like every time I’ve shattered,
And I’m a woman who made pain into art.
Made in God’s image and
You can find those 39 stripes
Every time you look at a womans thigh.
They say women were made from the rib of men
And we spend our lives holding the insides of these men together while we break in half
It’s hard being a woman and we sure get punished for it.
But my God! It’s so glorious.
See these are battle scars
And sometimes the war is within me
I used to hate the way these marks broke the smoothness of my complexion.
My life has been Rough. Rigid. Reckless.
And these marks tell my story beautifully.
But I touch my skin like I’m learning braille
These marks read;
“Baby girl your body burns like the sun and these marks are horizons of your soul stretched out to meet anyone willing to follow your light and meet the God within you.
Anyone who touches you will be entering holy grounds.
-Lethica Nair.

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Indian.

“That’s so Indian”
A statement that shaped my life. People who said this to me often used it as an insult- a way of telling me “be lesser of who you are” and when “friends” would introduce me they’d be on some “This is Lethica, she not a typical Indian don’t worry, she’s cool” I had lost my Indian identity before I even knew what it was. It made people comfortable to make remarks reducing my 500 million year old culture to spice jokes and that 2c accent that no South African Indian has. Why couldn’t I be Indian and cool? Why was my culture seen as a joke rather than something beautiful filled with rich tradition? I never had what was called the “typical Indian accent” and often had to fake laugh through conversations where that 2c accent was used to make a joke meanwhile in my head I knew that when Indian people speak their mother tongue languages the accents are perfect. As people of colour we use the way english is spoken to degrade each other- sometimes more than white people. Peers were baffled how i could be indian and not be good at math. I didn’t know what being a typical Indian meant. At home i was different because I was way more open-minded than my conservative culture allowed- I am queer, a feminist in a culture rooted in patriarchy, black lives matter activist but amongst my friends i was different because I didn’t have the accent, I could understand other South African languages, I dated outside my race and suddenly I was introduced as “this is Lethica, lol she’s not Indian” why was it so hard for people to accept that I could be Indian and all the things that i am at the same time? Why was it so hard to accept that I could be more than the spice jokes and Indian accent and still be Indian. I used to join along with my friends mocking Indians, entertain my history teacher who thought it funny to make an indian joke and look at me for agreement and gratification. Colourism- “I’d date a light Indian but not those navy blue ones” Dark is beautiful only if it’s black there’s no space for darkskin coloureds and Indians, we’re just not “exotic” enough- after all we’re still waiting for our apologies from the white people. I digress. Shame on me for thinking things like “Tisha you smell so nice, not like spice.” are compliments. It’s feels the same way when Americans come expecting lions on the streets only to be disappointed by the roads and skyscrapers. These are the consequences of only one truth about culture, about people and when they’re not who you thought they’d be- instead of accepting them, you label them differently.
-An immigrant in her own country.

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She tastes like a different continent.  20 years and still “foreign”

Engrish for the Elites.

As people of colourimages if we’re going to say “We don’t owe anyone proper English” then we should stop belittling people when they struggle with English.
People like making these blanket statements when standing at points of privilege-those who speak “proper” English are the ones quick to use the “We don’t owe anyone English” while judging and belittling those who genuinely struggle with the language. Using English as a measurement of intelligence and totally disregarding the fact that there are many government schools(particularly in low income areas) that only offer English as a 1st Additional language(not on your Shakespearean level) and sometimes English is not even taught in English. And to avoid being ridiculed some people stick to their home language and people will still belittle.
Double standards.
Belittling won’t change the facts- it’s no secret that local schools are struggling to bridge the language gap. If bad English bothers you so much, take your proper English and tutor. Dear child, you first words to God were not in English. You place English above your native tongues, you place English above your mother’s tongue as if it was not her voice that comforted you time and time again- her language and the way it filled her mouth – when you speak your perfect English it feels like something is missing- like half of what you were supposed to say got stuck in your throat- lost in translation with the rest of your history that never made it into the textbooks. They say love as no language. In my opinion, hate has one.

Overwhelming

To the one who makes me feel like I am too much.

Baby do you ever look at the stars and think that it’s too much?
On cloudy nights is it not you who yearns to see atleast one star?
On clear nights is it not you who watches the stars so much, I can see them twinkle in your eyes.
what makes you think I’m anything less than a galaxy and I’m not made up of constellations?

Do you ever look at the ocean and think that there’s too much water?
I tried to be softer, to let you be the sea and I’d be the river returning to you endlessly.
But I became a flood- people like me aren’t meant to be small.

You treat me like I am too heavy.
Why did you attempt to carry someone who was born with wings.
See its this heaviness that anchors me-I will not sink.

You aren’t astonished by me because you have attained me now- you think captured things aren’t beautiful anymore.
You’re in love with the wild, but you try to tame everyone you meet.
Didn’t they teach you- you cannot shackle those that are free in spirit.

You think I’m yours because you travelled miles to meet me, to place your flag on me, to say that you were here?
Go back to your people and ask them on nights when I make the whole world stare at me, if they can see that you’ve been here?
– the moon.

I’m not the girl you forget.
My brown skin is your favourite colour.
I am made up of burning stars and I do not settle for a love that is lukewarm.
I am not too much. I am endless and infinite. And when I say forever, I know I can be it.

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Skin

My melanin is a weapon.
I will never be unarmed.
The colour of my skin is the “crime” I committ everyday.
The colour of my skin is what I’m punished for everyday.
My skin carries negative stereotypes.
My skin carries intentions to kill, murder and steal
My skin is the greatest rebellion my body carries
My skin carries weapons only they see.
They exploit our gold, our oil, and most importantly- our skin
The foundation of all their wealth is made from our skin.
My skin carries an entire generation of poverty and sometimes I think its also carrying for the future.
You make us poor and then use our poverty against us.
And suddenly being poor robs me of my riches?
No, my skin is also dipped in the rich minerals of this country
Everything good that can be found in our soil, is found my skin- all that gold, all the copper, all that wealth.
That’s how you know I’m meant to be here.
To be black and Brown.
In a captalist country painted white,
is our greatest disadvantage.
Did you see, everything dark was taught to be associated with evil and unholiness.
They often say the white light is blinding and I couldn’t agree more.
They use the oppressed to oppress the oppressed.
I mean dear police officer,
the blue uniform does not take away the burdens your skin carry, they beat your heart and mind
black and blue so you put your legal duties before your moral ones.
Divide and conquer- colonialism tactics for our so called ‘freedom”
What’s freedom without equality?
Our lives are like apologies for not being white.
Everything unfair is “legal”
Now I should mention, South African Law stems from Roman Dutch and English Law.
How convenient to have our colonizers contribute to our legal system.
They’ll say “I’m racist.”
“I’m prejudiced.”
I’m “part of the problem”
“We need to move foward”
“We can’t dwell on the past”
People of colour can never be racist.
Racism is systematic oppression and so far the system has never been on our side.
I’m part of the problem created by you.
A step forward for you takes us 10 years backward.
We’re still fighting for the equality. We’re still…
Is it still the past if the oppressors are the same?

Tangled

Naturally, I seek you in every room
Effortlessly, I find myself entirely drawn to you
Eyes, thoughts, mind, body
Everything desires to gravitate towards you.
And when our eyes meet,
it’s like I’ve been set on fire, all this light flowing through my body,
I finally understand the concept of physical attraction.

Lately I find you in my constant thought.
The most effective drugs have heartbeats
You tangle my heartstrings
So my body plays foreign rhythms when you’re around
You make my mind travel, taking me places
No inhibitions. Eyes screaming intentions but
Lips sealed, only opening to receive yours.

I gave myself five days to forget you
But on all five days, thoughts of you became more vivid.
I’m steady on you.
See I can’t help thinking that maybe your hair is a reflection of your thoughts-
Spiralling, spilling and uncontrollable.
Your names means beautiful, but you’re so much more
Your language could easily become my favourite
As long as you’re the one that’s speaking it
You are the art in persuasion.

Reckless. We’re so reckless
A tsunami and a volcanic eruption in one place
Inevitable disaster.
But
Shallows seas seldom make waves
I learnt how to swim because I almost drowned
The danger area around a volcano is 32 km
But you’ve been closer
I think we’re good being disastrous, just not together
Spilling ourselves on each other
Throwing feelings in the air
I pray we never catch it.

We love living on the edge
Until one of us actually falls
Too late
They’ll ask me who you are
And since you look at me like I’m magical
A magician never tells.

Rea leboha (We thank you)

Rea leboha. We Thank You.
Because you didn’t just love me,
You loved my demons and all the skeletons of people I used to be

Rea leboha. On dark days,
The phone felt like the sun against my face
And your voice would fill me with light-
So if I couldn’t see around me, at least I could see within me

Rea leboha. You listened to my dreams and dreamt with me.
You taught me how plant seeds of hope in my garden of pain.
I learnt that pain is the most fertile soil for growth.
I am still learning to cultivate from it.

Rea leboha. We became infinite.
So even though this love has ended,
I know we won’t.

Rea leboha. Your mind was my galaxy.
We don’t need to see constellations to stargaze.
It’s said that the sun is one of the biggest stars in the milky-way
You and I are two suns who tried to co-exist.
No wonder we defied the distance in between us, I could always feel your light
We tried so hard to be together.

Rea leboha. You never failed to shine on me every day.
I am not too good with commitment.
See, my heart is too heavy and it falls all over the place.
It was in constant need of saving
Falling but never breaking because of your selflessness.

Rea leboha. You taught me a love that can never hate
A love so transcending, so spiritual and biblical-
You brought the dead parts of me back to life.
I had to love you so deep to show myself
What I can give to myself.
I had to love you to love myself.

Rea leboha. We don’t break after every fall
But the hardest part about falling in love-
Is the climb back.
Realeboha.

Dear Soul Mate

Dear soul mate, I have never met you

but I have loved you since I was 18

 

I apologise in advance, sometimes I am paranoid-

And it will make me question everything, even your existence.

Stay.

I know my pages are scattered

throughout my attempts to love another- please read me anyway.

On some days I will treat you like you are the reason for my messed up childhood.

When I let you go do not think I don’t love you- I am saving you.

Call me at 1 am even if you’re laying beside me

Let’s stargaze at 2 am- and if there are no stars, I’ll look at you.

Can you make me feel the warmth of the sun at 3 am?

If we can’t save each other, can we save others?

Challenge me, I crave growth.

Deepen my depth.

Will you look at me like I am your favourite art piece if the entire planet is a gallery?

 

Feel

When you hear my name

Each phonic should claw the walls of your mind

Stab your memory

It must hurt thinking about me

When I walk past you

I hope my scent grabs you by the throat

And drags you on the thorned road of reminiscence

It must hurt to miss me

I hope that when you’re near me

Your liver fails

Because you’re drunk on glasses full of pathetic and ashamed

It must hurt to be close to me

When you see me

I hope your eyes set on fire

Because maybe if you’re blind, you’d finally see

And your tears become ice

Because maybe if you let go all the coldness within, maybe you’d feel again

It must cause wars to look at me

24 August 2015

She came into my room

Anger protruding from her eyes

Threw up her beauty on my floor

Pity it didn’t even fill up the space in my room

She was shallow

As you spoke your hurtful words

That leaped in the distance in between

Like claws, they scraped through my chest

And stole my voice

I was speechless

She spoke monologues

With her monotonous screeching

About the pain she’s in, never once admitting to the pain she caused.

She shouted her empty apologies

That hit my ceiling like unanswered prayers

Shattered, and fell on my mind

The same mind I should’ve used before crossing your path

I write all my poems using my spinal fluid

I give them a backbone –

Something, you’ll never know how to use.