Red Margin

Roses of childhood:

Reflecting red hands
of men and women
who’ve learnt to abuse as easily
as holding paper cigarettes
between lips that just learnt to speak
like learning alphabets in kindergarten
with just observation.
Holding cheeks tenaciously tight
dancing drunk palms
and lip licking on repeat
Learn to swallow your spit,
red rashes are roses of childhood,
you grow with.
Don’t be such a disappointment,
smile and make those cheeks, cherry red.

Enter: Patriarchy

The red margin dragon
rages with crimson flames,
ripping eardrums apart
as easily as tearing bread crumbs,
‘Hello, greet me graciously.
I’m the favoured Patriarchy.’
‘That’s my chair and I don’t need to say it.
We’ve learnt to blindly follow it.
T.V. remote in my hand.
Chew your food without
breaking into a noise racket
and you dare itch an inch from your chair
before I’m done with dinner,
my sweet little children.’

Make no sound, Puberty

Bleed blood red
like cornered red margins of school notebooks
Learn to bleed in a space of silence
and cry within the shrinking body shell
of your foul existence.
Women pain cannot,
(well, does not) approach comfort
with the ease of acceptance.
Oh passionate Puberty!
Keep that pocket zipped up
in your underpants,
spread your legs when asked
but keep those knees tightly knit
with a bent neck
to sob behind bathroom doors
without being notoriously loud.


Take a bow before Mother Society

The red margin
screeching from school notebooks
elongating out of page,
to scales of societal norms:
a thicket of thorns and wrongs,
reminds us to keep our hopes aside.
The ruler of restriction
lengthens to slap
the society worshipers and followers:
‘No short skirts, girls’
‘No red lipstick or red heels’
‘No late nights, women’
‘No cigarettes and sex
in a room of more men.’
‘Yes, you heard that right.’


F(a)iling carnivorous crimes:

Finally, the red margin
stretches its arms
like a blood bag bleeding
at an unstoppable speed
from both ends.

And the tick tock sound
growls, haunts
like a 3.00 a.m. accident sight
on an odd night.
Let’s make the entry late,
let’s tuck it in off record,
like a forgotten flower bed wreath
crowned on a headstone, left alone.
The events racing its breath
to the right of the page
the factors floating yet failing at sailing
through upcoming few pages
make no evidence.
The date is dusted,
crime tales forgotten
and justice hours fail to reach a page
in the same book.

Death is in its best attire and of ripe age.

Birth of breath:

But, I couldn’t breathe
between that space.
It was exhausting,
I was flustered
taken for granted.
Scars filled the geography of my body
red remarks tainted my flesh
and sunk in my skin.
I grew with pain
that was unfair and unspoken about.
So I held the red pen.
I did.
And I’m now scribbling red remarks
on walls of paper, post its and leaflets
I am holding hope between the fingers of my palm
Trying to stop the red margin
from polluting bodies and souls.

are You reading?

(will You be reacting?)


Words: Aekta Khubchandani
Edits: Amal Shiyas
Illustration: Irene Verwoerd



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