1.2 Listening Room
Words by Stuti Sareen
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.
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,
one of them had been killed for no treason,
and the other for demanding her land back in place.
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.