POETRY
GROWING UP
- TEESHA DEBNATH
Artist Bio
Teesha (she/they) is a queer poet. They love to read and write and unfortunately; study. Their main genre is poetry which they write across various themes like love, LGBTQIA+ issues, feminism and war. When they're not busy studying, they also like to fight incels and trolls on the internet.



Growing up is realising
That your father isn't a superhero.
Growing up is realising that your mother,
Always a mother to you,
Wasn't a mother always.
Oftentimes, if you listen closely
Your mother will tell you her story
As she rubs scented oil into your scalp
And braids ribbons into your hair,
Weaving in love, and anger and rage
burning the ends so it won't come undone
Locking it in place.

Your mother was a woman
She held the weight of her family
Because she broke into a million pieces
At the tender age of eighteen
To be loved by a man who wove her name
Into poetry. 
And she too had been shackled,
Broken and bruised
Her knuckles raw from the household chores,
In laws with poison words
And whipping tongues.

Her dreams were a bird with clipped wings
Trapped in a cage to sing
Birdsongs of everything she was meant
To be. 
My mother was unfinished 
A work in progress if anything
Just like me.
But you see,
My mother remade herself
From a girl, docile and pretty,
With ribbons tied in her hair
To a woman with a filthy mouth. 
And fear that she chewed on like betel leaves. 
She swallowed the bird 
And Took back the dreams that had escaped
With the blood that ran down her legs
When she gave birth to her child.

She put together the fragments
of her 
self
Back together 
Piece by piece. 

She's at war with me,
Because I contain the future
That was stolen by her husband. 
I am loud and voracious
And everything that was beaten out of her. 
I'm the embodiment of her steel
That she regrew bit by bit
From her bone marrow.
She's everything I do not-
Did not want to be

But growing up is realising
That my father placed the root of fear
Under my mouth
And gave me a spoonful of sugar 
to make it go down. 
He made me bite my tongue as he molded
A daughter out of me. 
But it was my mother
Who hacked the tree with saws
And harsh words,
Making me hard to love
But harder to break.

Growing up is realising
My father isn't a superhero 
The mettle in me is not my father's
It's hers. 
I am becoming her 
I am her. 

I will always be her. 
I lacquer myself with gold
Like I'm worn porcelain
Being repaired by Kintsugi.
I remain unfinished
But like my mother
I'm putting my
self back together
Piece by piece.

Mother and Child, Jamini Roy, c.1930, India, Tempera on board, Image: Image: H. 60 cm, W. 33 cm; MAC.00554. Courtesy of the Museum of Art & Photography, Bengaluru


Artist Note
When my friend sent this post to me; I thought "Wow. This is perfect for me". Because as we are growing up, we're building ourselves piece by piece using the mistakes we've made. We're an amalgamation of bad decisions and good decisions. To be less metaphorical; we are a work in progress. Aren't we always when we're young? I am a work in progress regarding my career. I am a work in progress in relation to my mental health. I am a work in progress as a student. I am a work In progress.
In this poem "Growing Up", I am a work in progress as a daughter. When you're the oldest daughter, you always have a tumultuous relationship with your mother. You love her but you don't particularly like her. This poem is about me coming to terms with the love I have for my mother and the realisation that she's someone I am and will become. And that's okay. Because we share the same steel. 


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