Poems and Other Myths:

A collection of spoken word poetry by women from Asia.


Preeti Vangani


Don't worry, this is not

a poem on feminism

Because being, pretending

being seen as, being seen with

a feminist, itself has been

reduced to a fashion statement

My body is a brand

A brand called validation

I can be bought, kept in a shelf

to serve exactly the purpose

you placed your trust in me

The back of my neck

has a bar code,

tattooed as a symbol

of the product I have become

From head to toe

and toe to head

a part of me

every part of me

has indulged

in seeking validation

Eyes to begin with

I started wearing contact lenses

to replace my thick glasses

because I overheard

my grandfather

when I was 8, saying

Now who will marry her

if she wears chashma

I wore a nose ring to

dispel the truth that

I am a studious geek

And I do this exercise

(Lip over teeth)

several times every day

because Cosmo said

its the best way to

get rid of that

ugly double chin

These little babies

have been pushed up

so high to stand out

padded yet screaming

to be picked, to be liked

I am guilty on top

of wearing graphic t-shirts

to concerts where I don't know

the name of the bands performing

Of wearing kurtas

and carrying jholas

full of name dropping pennies

to obscure movie festivals

I wanted to be in the middle

of a circle so bad, that after

feeding on Bollywood

as my staple diet for 21 years

I lay open my senses to names

I don't understand and still can't

correctly pronounce

Floyd, Scorsese, Goddard, Farhadi

Nolan, Kundera & Dostoevsky

They all came along to help me

chase friends, under the holy trinity

of books, films and music

I am guilty of holding DSLRs to sunsets

as moments and memories

kept passing me by

and taking countless selfies

to portray myself in the best light, always

But this is superficial still

Dig deep, so deep that the need to

belong makes you spiral deeper

Several reluctant blow jobs are proof

that the fear of sleeping alone, makes

these hands and my mouth keep

a hundred secrets

That these hips have been suffocated

within drainpipes of denim that sculpt

my bottom, to a most rounded stereotype

I have fit in, I have jumped to fit in

I have fought to fit in when fringed out

Fit in, fight out. Fit in, fit out

This express validation work out

has made a mannequin of me

that sits dressed at a shop window

with its monotonous smile, calling out

Pick me pick me pick me

But it's closing hours now

And a submerged voice

Beneath my lens-ed eyes

And dolled up body is trying

to find its own words.

This poem is also validation

against validation


These girls

they get married

and lug their suitcases

wearing mehendi from

their father's homes

to their husband's

but they pay half rent

These girls are my friends

We went to class together

we spoke of liberation

in hostels unmanned

by parents and wardens

we exercised choice

when we said we want

a mixed hostel, not a convent

we fought for choice

we fought

These girls

attend other weddings

they ask me

when's mine

I digress

I observe strongly

I hate the smell of mehendi

among other things

I am reminded of choices

I exercise

I go for baby showers