By Geetanjali Gurlhosur
Art by Tapasvi Patel
All my adult life was invested in being productive
For a cause I had made up
At the time when I was told to be productive.
Productive body and mind are valued body and mind.
What I want ‘to become’ and what I want ‘to accomplish’
were decided in order to be productive
in a body that does not care for productivity
but only desire and love.
The mind was kept busy
while the body craved attention.
The more it craved, the more I got busy.
The body sent signs to the mind
That I deleted at times and again
To focus on the pile of work I was rebuilding.
Productivity is what I learnt to live with
not desire and love.
Along with this, only heterosexuality could fit
Like an easy jigsaw puzzle to ease the mind
And keep it happy and satisfied.
The idea of me in the arms of a man
Is one I have in the spare minutes of free time
I curse myself for having it–the free time, not the idea.
Free time begs to be filled with socially accepted
Heterosexual desire and love.
I had my moments of fantasy with men.
Oh, it is like knowing how to eat when hungry—
It does not slow you down
Unlike hurriedly replaced guilty pleasures
Of fleeting images of a woman’s bare body.
Funny how I even felt guilty going back to examine
The (queer) thoughts of what I did not want to label
Desire and/or love and/or anything else.
She’s my friend
I will only upset and repulse her
I told an upset and repulsed me
And went back to work
and my long hours of productivity.
Capitalist production kills the queer, they say.
As in my case, it took up all space and left none
For desire and love.
The mind is still not guilt-free today.
It is a process, queerness, not necessarily time-taking.
Even if it is, I am free now.
POETRY / QUEERNESS
Strange that you ask for evidence
Even though it exists
In the deepest of my desires.
The more you dig, the more it settles in
Subconsciously and comfortably.
I wear the identity, a name to call it by,
Consciously and uncomfortably
I wish it had no name.
Am I ‘bi’ only because
I cling also to heteronormative desire
Like you cling to a toxic relationship?
Or am I ‘pan’ – because desire must be standardized?
I say, desire, love and queerness
Can’t be named or tamed
Much like poetry
which I like to leave unnamed,
Or call whatever I like:
Thighs that speak of the places they’ve sat,
Or the smell of a long day on someone’s shoulders
Or the curve of someone’s back and the way they rest on it,
Or fingers that age with the kindness they share.
These are are the only ways I can describe
And make sense of.
Better than a label or a name
To what and who I desire and wish to tame.
Only if desiring and talking about desire would
Be given credit without affidavit.
Yes, a queer life is as poetic
As words can be queer.
Twisted and put together
The way I want, not the way you want them to sound.
So, I would like to live
The way I want, not the way you want me to be bound.
If my poetry can escape your meaning,
Be raveled and named other things,
So can my queerness
Be unraveled, unnamed and named many-a-things,
Whether you like my poetry/queerness or not.
Geetanjali Gurlhosur is a freelance writer, researcher and storyteller. At times, she writes poetry for her own selfish purposes. She is keen on writing about culture, sexuality, gender and justice.