nani jaan

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Nani ama, I spend most of my time trying to trace your histories etched in the wrinkles of your hands, your forehead, your neck. And I am never able to fully discover these histories, because you are always silent. So I wonder sometimes, if you had had a different life, different histories embedded in your skin, would you share your histories with ease? If you were raised with listeners around you, would you sing fiercely about your life? If you sat in gender studies classrooms, would you emerge with wings sprouting of your back? If you lived on your own, would you spend most of your time thinking about poetry and astronomy and films instead of home and husband and children and laundry? Would you suck on your fingers while eating achari meals you cook for one instead of making sure everyone else consumed food you cook for eight? If you lived for yourself, would the lines on your hands speak more about pleasure than responsibility? Would you turn to art for inspiration rather than to god for comfort? Would you believe more in creativity and production than in destiny? Would you stomp your feet while dancing, would you write about sex with no barriers? If allowed a consciousness about choices and desires, would you be in love with a woman?

Even with this life history, I wonder if you dance secretly on your aging feet, I wonder if you do cook for pleasure sometimes, I wonder if you do muse about wings and tails and webbed feet that can take you to the depths of oceans. I wonder if the childhood friend you once mentioned so fondly and emotionally was your lover, your first inkling of hope in a world where your story was written and edited by others. I guess I will never know because you refuse to tell me your full story. Have they convinced you forever that your stories don’t matter? Do you not believe that I want to listen? Or is this silence your defiance against the world? Am I part of the world that you resist with your silence?

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