My Transcendental Truth

Having recently given a guest lecture in Dr. Laura Rupp’s class on Translanguaging and Transnationalism, my mind kept going back to this old poem I had written:

To tell you the truth

Upon walking into an airport
My body somehow becomes a machine
Mechanical with nuts and bolts
A system I cyclically follow
My head tells me – let’s get this over with

“Please take out all electronic devices from your bag ma’am”
“Place them on the tray ma’am”
“Take off those shoes as well ma’am”
“And ma’am your jacket, and that belt”
“Ma’am, now slowly move through this capsule”
“Arms in the air, your legs apart”
“Indeed like that ma’am”
Let the scan run over you
“Step forward ma’am”
“To be patted down ma’am”
Arms
Breasts
Hips
Legs
“Ma’am, you may go now”
“Step away ma’am”

Contorted into the shape of an ill-positioned seat
I curse the person who said “the journey is the destination”
Who was it – Buddha? Buddha on a bookmark?
Would he travel First Class?
Sleep-deprived, dehydrated, claustrophobic, partially deaf

“What is the purpose of your visit to this country ma’am?”
“Where will you be staying ma’am and for how long?”
“Do you really want to visit libraries ma’am?”
“Do see some of our well-known sights as well ma’am!”

My bags wheel out of the hall
Backpack clinging onto to the side of my body
The awkwardness of playing dress-undress with sardines
After all, calling ourselves cattle can have me debarred from several states
I did not want to be touched
I did not want to slip out of the comfort of my zone
But to enter
You must submit
Did you ever feel like my entry into your state was forced upon my body in ways that defiled my clean sheet?
Now, I am stamped.

At the embassy, I attested that my son could have a different card than mine
I looked at his disinterested big eyes as we stood inline
“Two minutes more baby”
“I want to go to school after this”
“Yes, I will drop you there”
As she sliced his picture she said she is afraid of such large shears
Her shaking hands cut a sliver into my resident card
I offered to do it for her
She hesitated to look for purpose in my eyes
And then relented
I cut his picture to fit into the allotted space
They made him sign
This is him
His “y” like a bird in the sky
My residency jarringly sliced

I look at my blue and their maroons
It says I belong somewhere else
A grey sky
Angry clouds
Each crossover like a painful birthing from tired hips
My labor was three days long
It left my arms limp for days
I could hold nothing

I have decided to rebel
I do not belong to any country
I do not believe in borders
I am just going to say that this body is a state by itself
And I am sovereign
My heart the center of power
My head, brain, and eyes – legislators
My legs and arms that are used to hold and walk these are the executive wings
I refuse to pay allegiance
Cancel my subscription
Here, take this document
This card, the signature, take away this marker of who you tell me I should be
You do not get to decide who I am or who I will become
I belong everywhere
To myself
And to the encompassing powers of love
I will live by my heart
These lines – decrees of the blind – the misled – mean nothing
They will never mean anything
My passport from now on will be the picture of me my son drew when he was two
I declare that I will care for those my heart demands me to
I will not be held back by color, caste, creed, class or other such crap that I was taught to adhere to
I refuse to conform
I will become an amoeba
My nucleus will welcome immigrants

I will cry
I will defy
My document will have all colors of the rainbow
This earth, the soil, water, sky, trees, and birds
I will tell my son to go ahead choose pink, choose green, choose any color, anyone, be, be, be, who you want to be, be with who you choose to be, be a star, be the sky, become a river, flow, roar, escape, run, stay, root, grow – be you – be who you think you are meant to be
There is nothing, nothing, nothing
More powerful than to be free
Of compartments and cubicles
Confining commands that tell you don’t look, don’t see
Do not register disappointment, disagreement, dismay, disability, your disdain, keep that debate away

This is a democratic state
All dissidents will be made to obey

 

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