When I was a child I only ever wanted to be strong.
I wanted to be able to compete with the boys
and when I foot raced them at recess I won every time.
They called me ‘She Hulk’ because of my muscular frame
and from the way I only ever wore soccer t-shirts and sweat pants.
After that nickname was implanted into my brain like a growing weed,
I’ve only ever wanted to be feminine.
I started wearing skirts and dresses
and in middle school they shrieked at the site of my makeup and done up hair.
But that weed inside of my mind only grew, and grew, and grew
until I became a mixed drink cocktail
with one part anorexic and two parts lonely,
because I thought that the definition of feminine began with the word frail.
No one ever realizes how greatly words affect us,
how a simple nickname can turn a pretty girl into a skeleton.
I stood at five foot two weighing seventy nine pounds,
so cold and frozen,
yet I still considered myself a ‘She Hulk.’
You could see my ribcage through my t-shirt
and my spinal cord protruded loudly through my weathered skin,
as if somehow my bones were dirty knives
just trying to cut through the flesh of judgment.
As I grew older I became the girl that was never enough.
Not good enough to speak poetry.
Not good enough to lay paint on a canvas.
Not good enough.
Not tall enough.
Not big enough boobs for them.
Not primped to perfection.
Not undeniably straight.
Not smart enough.
Not dumb enough.
Not ditsy enough.
Not cool enough or fun enough.
And I began to believe, too, that I wasn’t enough.
I never told my mother that I had been in madly in love with a girl.
I never told anyone about the night we first kissed
because I was too vulnerable for the judgment.
And parents always justify saying that ‘kids will be kids’
But when we are kids our brains are still growing
and the smallest of seeds that get planted will one day bloom
into one giant regret,
will one day affect the choices that we make,
will one day influence us about the clothes that we wear,
will one day shape us into the person who we thought we would never be.
I only ever wanted to be strong,
and as a child I thought strength was only about being able
to lift a bar stool above your head.
I thought that strength was only about being able
to beat the boys in bare foot running races.
I was told that strength was something only
a man could have.
But as I’ve grown older I’ve realized that strength
isn’t about muscle at all,
but it’s about weakness,
and the ability to overcome the social anxiousness.
It’s about carrying around a lifetime of baggage
on your broken back
because the ones that kicked you when you were down
are going to be the ones that were ultimately wrong.
I thought that the definition of woman
began with the word disappointment.
And I became a mixed drink cocktail
with one part freedom
and two parts Sailor Jerry
because every girl needs a stiff drink once and awhile.
We are not disappointments.
We will never be the ones who gave up on hope.
We will never be the ones who gave up on each other,
or our mothers.
We will always be enough;
enough for the ones who shunned us
enough for the ones that cursed us
enough for the ones the hurt us
and destroyed us
and beat us when we were covered in bruises.
But you see, bruises fade
and the scars of our flesh are only stories
things we have overcame
and there are things out there that we will overcome.
When I was a child, I only ever wanted to be strong.
I hid my vulnerability.
I hid the parts of me that were true.
I never told my mother about my girlfriend
because I was afraid she wouldn’t understand,
kind of like all those people who never understood
just how much words effect us.
I can’t say that I can beat the boys at foot races anymore,
because, well, I smoke cigarettes now.
And I can’t say that the nickname of my childhood didn’t affect me.
But I take that name now and embrace it.
Because I am strong.
I am the ‘she hulk’.
I am a mixed drink cocktail
with three parts greatful.
im sorry ive caused you pain.
i thank you for sticking by me through everything.
and not giving up on me. i dnt no what
i would do if you had given up on me.
Im sorry ive lied to your face and you knew it,
but you still loved me the same as before.
so i thank you.
i dont know if i would be here with you if you had given up on me.
im sorry ive broken your trust over and over,
and you still wanna trust me.
i thank you again.
i dont know wat i would have done if you didnt trust me.
im sorry ive done things behind your back,
even though i promised you i would never do them.
im sure you knw but you never said anything.
i wish you would have. it would have saved us all alot of pain
i thank you for never giving up on me.
i dont no how to tell you how much i love you.
mom i love you sooooooo much you wont ever no how much i love u and thank you for everything
Yeah true she might not be flesh of my flesh or a product of my seed, i may not have carried her in my womb for 9 months but that don't mean I didn't succeed. because u will never be more of a mother than I've proven to be. U will never fill my shoes or be able to
Walk the path that I lead. She means more to me then u ever would she will be more of a woman then u ever could. Although we will never have the same blood run through our veins or the same letters spell out our last name, that doesnt make me any less relevant, matter fact just the opposite because that makes me even more prevalent. The fact that I could take on this child with nothing handed to me but a barely empty baby bag but i did it all not for u but because I could never deny a childs innocence because of your stupidness, or neglect a childs needs, the needs that u never could even see. She too nieve to have been brought up any other way then protected and loved and i refused to have her stay wit u and suffer because u didn't have your head right too preoccupied with u and your loser mans life that u didn't appreciate the gift that god gave u in order to change, u threw away the only life line that could ever save your name. If you had done right by her u could of claimed that title but because the worlds drugs and games got the best of u, u will never be entitled. u will never have any rights u will never hurt this child. Because I would die before Id ever let your influence turn her in to a abuser a loser a liar, before she will ever be a whore a freak before u will ever bring her into a world of prostitution and cheats she will never follow in your steps and be so lazy, so your words on me as a person will never faze me cuz I know what I've done I've seen what she came from and I guareentee her life will be a clean one. You will have no part in having her follow in your footsteps by being used and abused by the same type of worthless men that you've fall victim to. Cuz u chose to repeatedly lay on your back and give all the power to a man, rather then have a spine that was worthy to defend. She will never succumb to the same objects of your defeat. She is worthy of so much more than u ever will be. And that's only because she learned how to be a woman from me! U will never be worthy of calling yourself a mother to the smart independent and strong woman, that she will some day grow to be because I take responsibility for that and I only have wishes that she is not like....but yet better than even me. That she never have any needs that she'd have to rely on any one else for, she will never live off the system in order to pay her bills because she will be a well developed perfectly capable and functioning woman living by her own means making her own rules. Cuz I made it all possible I've given her the tools to be able to go out in the world and succeed and never be used, know that she will surpass every bad decision u chose to do. Because after all her real mama didn't raise no fool!
My mother, my grandmother before has always held a place in my heart.
My father, and my grandfather before has the same part.
I was young and very active with unwillingness to listen fully to what they had to say.
I had a problem, never could be solved without my parents and grandparents till today.
With patience they all come to my aid when I fall on my face.
With little dishonor I listen to them and what they had to say, I embrace.
Over the years I go to them with no doubt a feeling of no dismay.
Over the years I go to them and they help me solve problems that to me is O.K.
Now I am getting a bit more aware of what had happen to me when I was growing.
Now I remember how the ride was in my beginning: it was a trial of not knowing.
With the guided words of my parents and grandparents I survive through them all.
With it some being a problem that I remember I recall.
My mother and my grandmother always said to be patient and it will be easy to solve.
My father and my grandfather always knew that I would grow and evolve.
I could wonder everyday what if my parents and grandparents was not in my life.
I could just think that would be fatal like a stab with a knife.
With knowledge that they had past on to me of what they had experience.
With their proof of teachings they had past on to me is their self existence.
Over the years I grew with life so full of happiness that was because of my families love.
Over the years it showed me the path that led me to all the above.
Now cherish those words that help me through my troubles in my new family.
Now I listen to my parents healing words of wisdom and except them gladly.
written 28th oct 2012
You were never seen by us, that privilege sadly was not for us
an extravagance we were overwhelmed by, the thought of your embrace
The entire twelve weeks you were a joy to have known, even 'without' being seen
hearing about you're arrival, was a blessing at the time you were conceived
For life hadn't been easy and we had all asked God, we even plea'd
We wait upon the day, you will finally meet us
having the honour to love and learn with you, saddly not for us
It brakes my heart as you part, you had already embeded love into my heart
Just knowing we will now...forever be kept apart
God has other plans for your love that's so strong, blessing us from the start
we continually pray, maybe he'll deside to let you stay around
But the intense pain of tears and loss, are constantly falling all around
just let it be known, we all desperately wanted you to become part of us
We all will love you for eternity, you are now forever one of us,
although it was only for a very slight second, it was better than never
You are from this day on, embedded into our hearts forever...
the impact you have left 'unborn young one'' my beloved grandchild....
I do not know?
written 10th Aug 2013
I am God's child, first and forever
I am known by many different titles, a daughter
I am a wife
I am a mother
I am a grandmother
I am a poet
I am by several ways, known as a sister
I am an acquaintance
I am a loyal friend
I am a stranger
I am a cousin
I am an Auntie
I am a niece
But who is this person, they all call "Denise?"
She is a child to God
She is a niece
She is a cousin
She is a stranger
She is a loyal friend
She is an acquaintance
She is known to many, a sister
She is a poet
She is a grandmother
She is a mother
She is a wife
She is known as a daughter to many
She is everything, she'd ever dreamed her life to be....
She is happier than she ever imagined possible
SHE IS "DENISE"
I do not know?
someone always told me this with tears in her eyes...
(for Lata Sethi's late-mother, who was my mother’s ‘sister’ and who took us all into her heart, and for Lata and Ravi Sethi of Defence Colony, New Delhi)
a wife left South Africa in the 1960’s to join her husband
who was in exile at the time...
in 1970 the husband was sent by the African National Congress to India to be its representative there...
the husband and wife spent two years in Bombay...
one afternoon the husband fell and broke his leg...
the wife knocked on their neighbour’s door, in an apartment complex in Bombay
the neighbour was an old Punjabi lady...
the wife asked the neighbour for a doctor to see to the injured husband...
a Parsi ‘Bone-Setter’ was promptly summoned...
the husband still recalls his anxiety of seeing ‘Bone-Setter’ written on the Parsi gentleman’s bag...
by the way, the ‘Bone-Setter’ worked his ancient craft and surprisingly for the husband, his broken leg healed quite soon...
but still on that day, while the ‘Bone-Setter’ was seeing to the husband...
the wife and the old Punjabi lady from next door got to talking about this and that and where these new Indian-looking wife and husband were from as their accents were clearly not local...
the wife told the elderly Punjabi lady that the husband worked for the African National Congress of South Africa and had left to serve the ANC from exile...
and that they had left their two children behind in South Africa and that they were now essentially political refugees...
the Punjabi lady broke down and wept uncontrollably...
she told the foreign woman that she too had had to leave her home in Lahore in 1947 and flee to India with only the clothes on her back when the partition of the subcontinent took place and Pakistan was formed and at a time when Hindus from Pakistan fled to India and vice versa...
the Punjabi lady then asked the foreign woman her name...
‘Zubeida’, but you can call me ‘Zubie’...
the Punjabi woman hugged Zubie some more, and the two women, seperated by age and geography, wept, sharing a shared pain...
the Punjabi woman told Zubie that she was her ‘sister’ from that day on, and that she felt that pain of exile and forced migration and what being a refugee felt like...
Zubie and her husband Mosie became the closest of friends with the Hindu Punjabi neighbours who were kicked out of Pakistan by Muslims...
then came the time for Mosie and Zubie to leave for Delhi where the African National Congress office was based...
the elderly Punjabi lady and Mosie and Zubie said their goodbyes...
a year or two later, the elderly Punjabi lady’s daughter Lata married Ravi Sethi and the couple moved to Delhi...
the elderly Punjabi lady called Zubie and told her that her daughter was coming to Delhi to live and that she had told Lata, her daughter that she had a ‘sister’ in Delhi...
Lata and Ravi Sethi then moved to Delhi...
This was in the mid-1970’s...
Lata and Zubie became the closest of friends and that bond stayed true, and stays true till today, though Zubie is no more, and the elderly Punjabi lady is no more...
the son and the husband still have a bond with Lata and Ravi Sethi...
a bond that was forged between Hindu and Muslim and between two continents across the barriers of creed and time...
a bond strong and resilient, forged by the pain and trauma of a shared experience...
and that is why, and I shall never stop believing this, that hope shines still, for with all the talk of this and of that, and of that and of this, there will always be a simple woman, somewhere, anywhere, who would take the ‘other’ in as a sister, a fellow human...
and that is why there will always be hope...
hope in the midst of this and of that and of that and of this...
(for Lata Sethi's late-mother, who was my mother’s ‘sister’ and who took us all into her heart, and for Lata and Ravi Sethi of Defence Colony, New Delhi)
Dramatic Verse (Verse Drama)
When I met her , a very old lady she was , yet inside lay a frightened child .
I felt my heart cry , I felt as if I was touching history itself , as I made this older lady, child, chai .
I remember the day , and so many tears I have cried
I have cried before she and I met
As a child , so many tears, left confused inside .
Not understanding Why , and how could we stand by and live our lives as if this never happened ?
It happened , we are left in dismay of the movies seen the accounts taken of History
My self ..I have caught stereotyping the very people whom did this to she , the rest of her Family erased .
The white candles we light , we try and forgive , or just simply block this pain out completely.
It occurs , over and over , as it has been said History will repeat .
When thinking of my children , when I think of that little girl losing , cold and scarred , feeling only defeat .
There is a lesson here and I pray , that all whom have been taken from life , have no pain and are gifted spirits throughout eternity . May they be warmed with love, and reunited with the ones they lost .
The first time I met her , her old hand I took and warmed it with mine , I held it for a long time .
You could not, but notice ..the Evil imprinted on skin , the Evil only to remind.
This very old Soul , in her eyes you could see .
The child that once lived , so innocently free, not aware yet, of the Hostility .
I speak of a Little girl, I speak of a old woman , I speak of a Jewish, chosen Religion.
There as I held her frail , old hand , a brand , a number stamped in Evil a long time ago . In 1945 , once in our distant, yet Frightening past .
We should never forget , never forget it happened , never forget all the names .
If we do , we have learned nothing , A World living in Shame .
" Etta Babooshka Kofman "
I do not know?
(for the countless women, names unknown, who bore the brunt of Apartheid, and who fought the racist system at great cost to themselves and their families, and for my mother, Zubeida Moolla)
Pregnant, your husband on the run,
your daughter, a child, a few years old,
they hauled you in, these brutish men,
into the bowels of Apartheid's racist hell.
They wanted information, you gave them nothing,
these savage men, who skin happened to be lighter,
and white was right in South Africa back then,
but, you did not cower, you stood resolute,
you, my mother, faced them down, their power,
their 'racial superiority', their taunts, their threats.
You, my mother, would not, could not break,
You stood firm, you stood tall.
You, like the countless mothers did not break, did not fall.
You told me many things, of the pains, the struggles,
the scraping for scraps, the desolation of separation
from your beloved Tasneem and your beloved Azad,
my elder sister and brother, whom I could not grow
up with, your beloved children separated by time, by place,
by monstrous Apartheid, by brutish men,
whose skin just happened to be lighter.
You told me many things, as I grew older,
of the years in exile, of the winters that grew ever colder.
You were a fighter, for a just cause,
like countless other South African women,
you sacrificed much, you suffered the pangs,
of memories that cut into your bone, your marrow,
you resisted a system, an ideology, brutal and callous and narrow.
Yes, you lived to see freedom arrive, yet you suffered still,
a family torn apart, and struggling to rebuild a life,
all the while, nursing a void, that nothing could ever fill.
I salute you, mother, as I salute the nameless mothers,
the countless sisters, daughters, women of this land,
who fought, sacrificing it all for taking a moral stand.
I salute you, my mother, and though you have passed,
your body interred in your beloved South African soil,
you shall remain, within me, an ever-present reminder,
of the cost of freedom, the struggles, the hunger, the toil.
I salute you!
(for the brave women of South Africa, of all colours,
who fought against racial discrimination and Apartheid)
Gun fire all around, bombs going off in the distance
It was some of the angry mobs and resistance
Father was the king of SafeHaven a small kingdom
Like all other kingdoms it fell in random
Fire started in the castle
And along with it came a battle
It was a distance memory now because the child has now grew
Many things in this child that made memories stew
My name is Mastrey, a young orphan who was there that night
Mastrey saw her in the distance and her father and mother in his sight
Everyone was loud that night and made all the children hide
But that evening Mastrey saw her mother and father die
She ran into the bushes in such a fright
And evil doers were running around with flashlights
Mastrey remember it as he distracted them
Her eyes was so confused with problems
Mastrey new that it was because of what just occurred
His feelings of what those people did was not awkward
The distraction worked, he went back to were she was
Hiding and very scared she was, he asked her, can you trust me just because?
Her answer that night depended on her lively hood
As Mastrey was their with his hand reaching out to her as he stood
Pulling her up from the ground he looked into her eyes that were SeaBlue
Mastrey had made a life long friend and love, She knew it was true
Next: My Story Telling, Who is this Princess