Beyond Unspoken Words: A Poem by PARVINDER MEHTA
Of Sticks, Stones and Bullies
This poem is a response to numerous real-life incidents of bullying against young minds aspiring to learn in life. The narrator is a young, Sikh teenager boy who comes to terms with his experiences of bullying through affirmation, history and art.
Their taunts and foul looks,
hurtful shards of haunting slurs
seek to depress me to non-being.
The barrage of forceful punches,
the onslaught of knuckles and
those deliberate toggles to defeat me,
aim for my surrender to non-essence.
They attack me and my looks, an unfamiliar Sikh,
a paraphernalia beyond speculation.
Do I dare explain myself to them?
speak to those resounding, deaf ears
make them see their ill-illumined dungeons?
Why don’t they learn to know me?
Why don’t they know to learn me?
I roll my life - a crumpled paper
hidden in a deep pocket, crushed and
marked beyond recognition.
Holding onto this useless fragment
I lay it open in privacy.
Caressing its innocent creases
I recall those dangerous moments,
those arrows of hateful glances
and spears of vicious words,
those smirks while chewing meaningless gum,
those gibes at my long cherished hair,
and my curly black beard. They left invisible
fault lines on this paper, ingrained
with smudges beyond erasure.
Their onslaught on my being
rattled my body yet crushed not its spirit.
Their pouncing on my head to tousle
my patka, exposed my hair to their cruel
gaze of mockery and apathy.
My soft silky hair undone, shield my eyes from
their repugnance and repulsive wonderment.
They leave me alone with a puzzled look,
the cracked mirror in the locker shows me,
my reflections disfigured beyond repair.
Somehow, my faith confirms a steadfast
refusal to assimilate to their demands
of conformity. I walk the hallways
hoping for acceptance and freedom,
like naked feet avoiding the pierce of a
sharp broken glass. Those glances of
scrutiny fail to shake me as my iron bracelet
reminds me of resolve and affirming allegiance.
The teachers simply look at me as a puzzle
a riddle they never can know,
a strange artifact for their gaze, simply a
darkness of a cavernous maze
an intricacy beyond learning.
At home, I hold onto my life - these wasted papers
my globes of insignificant secrets,
collecting every day, unfolding their
crushed fragilities, caressing the wounds of
markedness and then binding them all together.
These shapeless spheres have mingled with
each other’s pain and hurt. The caressing
fingers at last found a meaning in this
origami of comfort beyond pain.
New shapes of resolve and firmness
appear magically as I begin to write
those hushed words and silent whispers.
Words spilling out of the rims of my heart,
their calm fury reminds me those other histories
of persecutions, of unknown strangeness
refusing to give in to tortures,
pressures of conversion and assimilation,
finding a way to define themselves
through sacrifice, rebellion and martyrdom,
a combat beyond oppression.
Remembering those subjections,
conversions, beheadings and declared deaths,
those histories of martyrdom and warriors,
I caress my wounds hidden in these globs of rejection,
patting their tattered folds every day.
Whispering the faint quivering of my heart,
I renew it with inner optimism.
A single tear seeps through
percolating the pain of histories
releasing bottled rage through blotted
letters as blue ink submerged in red
anger flows over, undrawing those marks of
miscognition, creating another art,
a calligraphy beyond rejection.
I wonder and hope for the day,
when they would value my existence,
know my reasons, my affirmations without
boxing me into orthodoxy or insularity.
My history of subjugation, meanwhile
nourishes my wounded soul,
as words emerge amidst blots of
grief and heal my unspoken pain.
Perhaps I am strong and tested,
perhaps I will win this battle
or perhaps I will be a martyr
beheaded by hate and oppression.
Till then I must go on
And follow my inner guidance
cherishing my heritage,
refusing to give in to injunctions and oversights
refusing to submit to recurrent oppression,
I will rise instead nobly as a young eagle
bravely learning to fly.
I will sing the clarion call to others
to shed the cacophony of jarring
hateful words and instead embrace
the mellow rhythms and musical strokes
creating a new art and articulation
beyond unspoken words.
Dr. Parvinder Mehta is a writer and an educator. She has
taught English writing, literature and film courses at University of Toledo,
Wayne State University and Davenport University. She has presented at various national and
international conferences. Her publications have appeared earlier on sikhchic.com, as well as in Sikh
Formations, South Asian Review and South Asian Diaspora.
Parvinder Mehta ©
March 5, 2012
Conversation about this article
1: Nanaki Kaur (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada), March 05, 2012, 1:43 PM.
As a mother, your words gripped my soul and did not let me go until its final, uplifting crescendo. Thank you for capturing so well this incredible mix of emotions which only a mother could feel. I trust you're a mother ...
2: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), March 05, 2012, 1:45 PM.
Bullying is worse than the world of the jungle where there is at least some order: it is a product of bad parenting! I have never been bullied after my father gave me the 'license' to thump any bully that came after me, and my super-fantastic teacher, Mrs. A.S. Gaunt of Cowper Street Middle School in Leeds, United Kingdom, who saw me being hit by fellow pupils after school and asked me the following day: "Who were the children hitting you?" When I told her who, she said: "Well, tell them that my teacher said leave me alone or else she'll sort them out!" This happened at the age of eight! As Sikhs we should never allow ourselves to be bullied because we are saint-warriors' and we are obligated to deal headlong with anyone who bullies anyone.
3: M. Kaur (New York, U.S.A.), March 06, 2012, 7:13 PM.
What a beautiful piece of writing! It voices despair, yet inspires hope.
4: Yogesh Puri (Delhi, India), March 08, 2012, 5:57 AM.
Sensitive response to the social environment, underscoring moral, purposeful, persuasive courage, promoting a positive democratic dialogue.
5: Sami Ullah (Kashmir), March 15, 2012, 12:16 PM.
A great poem which every person in the world should read. Beautifully written. Dr. Parvinder Mehta, Congratulations. We look forward to many more from you.