Lighthead

As I look into the mirror, I am not the person I wish to see. I have lost weight and can almost feel my skin tug my bones. My hair is spread across my shoulders and I want to get rid of all burdens. I am a poet and to write a poem, I need space and freedom.

***

The next day, I decide to cut my hair really short. I have a strong desire to go bald. The man at the salon looks at me with wonder. His inability to figure out my choice evokes no response from my side. He thinks a woman wants to look pretty, longs for hair sweeping her back. I can sense the confusion on his face. While he doesn’t cut my hair how I’d like it, I keep away from complaining. I tell myself it’s alright, that my hair might grow, or I can have another haircut later on. There’s life left in me. And that man can’t be changed.

***

Later in the day, I read a poem by Jennifer Balachandran. I read, “you can’t buy shit with hair.”

I know I sold myself.

***

After a few days, I go to the salon again. This time, a different guy cuts my hair. I tell him I want it to look like Princess Diana’s. He follows that. I have flummoxed another guy. This isn’t my attempt to try a different style, I tell him before falling silent. There’s a discussion going on in the background. One guy tells the other that men are physically stronger than women. I want to ask him if he will go bald with me.

***

My mother’s friend thinks men are physically stronger. She wants to believe otherwise but can’t.

***

I am on my period and I am thinking how men would deal with that flow. How would they survive blood, even if it was their own? I can feel blood falling on my napkin as I get up in class. Till the end of the school day, my panty has gone wet. My salwar has a faint stink. I have run out of napkins. I sweat differently. But I see life here. I feel life spilling every second, as I grow hollow to harbour it. One day this blood will recreate my body. This blood gives me the privilege of healing through facing wounds.

***

I want to go bald now. It is the only way I can look up to myself. I see poems through their vulnerability and exposure. It is my time now to be the poem. I want to shave off this burden. I wonder if this is what Terrance Hayes termed Lighthead.

***

My collar bone is starting to bulge out of my skin. Being called the girl without a waist is burden, being called the girl with a huge waist is burden. No profit, no loss.

***

I search for my waist. I search for blood. I search for lightness. I search for strength.

The search is never-ending like the space between my palm and the sky.

***

I sit. Stare straight ahead. This seems like cakewalk: no burden, no strength, no body.

– Written by Devanshi Khetarpal (Head of Redefy India)