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.