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1.2 Listening Room
 Forbidden Musings 

Words by Stuti Sareen
May 2021

A poem on misinformation and attacks on free speech. It is inspired by conversations with members of minority communities in China and India. The poem expresses their present experiences of repression.

mysticeti magazine_forbidden musings_poem.jpg

As a kid my mama told me

to stay away from the other lanes. 

She said the thieves would take me 

and loot her entire place. 

I’d read something about it in the news the other day.


Some years later my mama told me 

to stay away from the ones in shades.

They walked and ate amongst us,

but they were to be treated differently.

Why else would they choose to be covered that way?

I wondered why we chose to be covered the way we were 

all dressed up in rage. 


Today mama tells me 

to keep my voice down low 

to worry about myself 

not the shaming of those for no treason 

or my fellow citizens for no reason. 


And with no power to do anything else 

I choose now to do what all of mama’s kids do

I become an ordinary citizen 

of her ‘free’ place. 

I choose to cover my eyes by whatever 

my mama writes down for me. 


I wish I had the guts to 

roll it into a ball and throw it in the bin 

or use it as a paper bag 

to vomit all my forbidden musings. 


But I continue to dress up fancy 

as I continue to live in her place 

cause my mama says 

if I choose to be more than ordinary 

she will wrap her written words around my head 

just tight enough to blur me. 

Illustration by Ishani Kamat

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