The boy who turned into a girl
by Vidya Panicker

The name
scribbled on the blue slip of paper,
rolled in to a cylinder
and hung from a nail on the wall
of the prayer room at home
was a boy’s

and for me — the girl in the cradle

they truncated
and feminized
and crushed
and squeezed
and pinched it

turning it into names which sounded
awkward to the ears
and looked ugly
on the birth form
announcing my arrival

Meanwhile, I was
‘the girl’,
‘the little one’,
‘the nuisance’
‘the child’
‘the thing that wails’
and so on.

After a month and half
of my nameless existence,
they burned the blue slip,
opened the book with a thousand names
of the mother Goddess,
chose the best
and whispered it in my left ear

three times.

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE PHOTOGRAPH: This photo was taken a few months ago in the common room for doctoral students at my institute (I am living up to my name, which means education).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My paternal grandmother was the only person in the family who longed for a male child. For the others, including my parents, the gender of the child was largely immaterial. Granny’s dreams for a grandson came true once my brother was born four years later, and thus the intended name found an owner too.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Based in the God’s own country of Kerala, India, Vidya Panicker’s poems have appeared in The Feminist Review, So to speak, Shot glass journal, One sentence poetry, Three line poetry, Aberration Labyrinth, Bangalore Review, 4and20 poetry, and others.