Why Humans Speak

I love the confidence with which they speak:

Can girls really work at night?

Work on deadlines so tight?

Do I really know programming?

I don’t look like I study Science.


My nails clicked and clacked on the desk

As I shrunk in size inside –

Remembering I am female,

Remembering I’m seen as less.

A welcome feeling. Always.


Them in uniform,

Loud and proud.

Yet, they could not look me in the eye.

They could not look at my face.

No, they talked to my male friends.


You see it would be fine

If it was just them guys.

It would be fine

If it was just them guys.

But I, I am a girl,

At night.

A girl at night.

I would drive them mad

With my body.

The criminal elements around

Could just whisk me away in a ride.


It was ok if it was just men filming –

Never mind that I was the writer, director and actor.

My body is a liability.

And if I was to be raped,

He said to my friends,

They could be suspected!

Who would save them then?


It’s not like I have a tongue, do I?


Some may say the police protects civilians from criminals.

In Kolkata, the police protects women from themselves.

Being female is a hassle –

Not just for me but for everyone else.


The men in uniform dug my mind into the ground,

Under their policing gaze policing my existence.

For girls cannot work at night.

Male company is no guarantee!

In fact men should be terrified

If working with a girl at night!

The old weapon:

More devastating than a gun.

Creating rapists and false convictions.

Treat with caution.


You see, men,

Beautiful men,

Brilliant men,

Have always told me I’m less.

I don’t belong.

My body comes before my mind.


In Cardiff, people look less between my legs,

But more, more, a lot more at my skin.

And they ask me, how is my English so good?

They don’t teach colonialism in their schools;

And they ask, how is my English so good?

And they ask other whites to check if my words are right.


6, 7, 8, 9, 10 –

I was awarded for being the best

At English.

I was the first girl to have her essay read to the boys.

My words were bliss to teachers after a pile of mistakes.


But here, they see my skin, my skin, my skin,

Before they see me.

They hear my accent, and good,

My words can’t be.

And my English is inspected by those

Whose English is inferior to me.


Yes, I know, ‘inferior to mine’.

I used ‘me’ to make it rhyme.


So, yes, why do humans speak?

To show me my place in life.


Why do humans speak?

To tell me I’m less than human


To make me shrink into insecurity.

To make me believe their lived lies.


When I tell them that I’m queer,

They don’t speak at all.


Just yesterday this brilliant brown boy

Was mansplaining sexism to me;

While also telling me

That he couldn’t believe

I’m a journalist.

I’m only a petite little thing,

And I like my eyeliner wing.

Could I really work after hours?

Shouldn’t I be at a desk at least?


So I rolled my CV off my tongue:

Two ministers here,

One soldier there,

And the oppressed, oppressed, oppressed.

Mostly people like me –

Immigrants, refugees, LGBT.

From Europe to the Middle East.

He stared back, eyes hollow,

As I hammered my brilliance into his head.

So he wouldn’t use that tongue

To lick at another girl,

Tell her she’s less.


Why do humans speak?

To reclaim themselves.



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