Recognize | Arathi Devandran

Holding my mother’s hand, I was five, then.

Tiny brown fingers clasped in a gnarled hand, my mother,
she was born with a deformity but
“it has never stopped me, you understand”

Holding my mother’s hand, I was five, then.

Standing in front of a boy, his tiny white fingers clasped in a smooth, unwrinkled hand,
his mother’s.

We were facing each other, and my mother asked,
voice steely with a note I will recognize, realize, remember throughout my
life,
the voice of a woman who stands up, stands up, stands up
for what she believes is right,
voice steely with a note I will recognize,
in my own when I am a mother, holding the tiny brown fingers of my child.

“What does it mean when a young boy wrinkles his nose at a young girl,
when they are so far away from each other, there is nothing he can smell
except perhaps, the brownness of her skin?”

My mother asked,
voice steely with a note I will recognize, as hers, as her mother’s,
as mine, as my daughter’s.

The boy and his mother were left with nothing to say,
not even an apology, because
an apology means to recognize,
and in this world, there are some things we never recognize
even if it is staring at us right in the face
as stark as night and day, as separate as black and white –

Holding my mother’s hand, I was five, then.

Tiny brown fingers clasped in a gnarled hand, my mother,
she was born with a deformity but
“it has never stopped me, you understand”

We walk past the silence, walk past, heads held high, cross the spaces

We recognize are as much our own, as anybody else’s.

————
Arathi Devandran curates personal experiences, snapshots of the world and the stories people are willing to share through prose and poetry (www.miffalicious.com), Twitter: @miffalicious

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