Mother’s bindi, My bindi
By Paromita Talukder
This poem unveils my initial relationship with a specific part of my culture, the bindi, and the change that I go through to fully accept an obscure piece of my identity.
the point at which creation begins1,
what does it matter, ma!
piercing orbs cut in two
sewn unfastened by unruly tentacles
and in between lies
why does it matter!
a single tear-drop of a million
their cries rippling2,
get rid of it!
they watch with their third
and warn of the trap
capturing clouded light,
you don’t need it anymore!
just as the eyes lure in radiance and
deviously encage it,
the burden of a spiraling trap of
disowning what brings tenor in life
a moment of heat, brief security,
like the wind coerced into a cocooned gossamer veil,
I felt as I walked with her, gripping her fingers,
our leveled staccato footfalls
as eyes peered up at the middle of her forehead
and pierced through the veil,
wavering my steps,
why do you still wear it ma! I had asked,
“they look at you funny and keep
asking me these silly questions!”
questions that I had no answer to
so I screamed with my lidded mouth,
clenched my anxiety tightly within my fist,
because how was I to know the reason why
you cling on to that dot as hard
as it clings on to you,
like it gives you meaning just
as you give it meaning,
a mutual bond, agreement, of sorts to remember where
you, and I, and it comes from,
when, I wonder, did my feet fall into step again
into a metronome,
and clenched fists turned to slacken fingers
that align the speckle between my brows,
and offer another dimension to my
1 In the Nasadiya Sukta (Hymn of Creation), the middle of the forehead is said to be the point at which creation begins, the seat of concealed wisdom, and the focal point of the subconscious mind that serves as the third eye. 2 In the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971, which was partially religiously motivated, hindu women were easily identifiable and targeted because of the bindi on their forehead. They were brutally raped and murdered, and yet they continued to square their shoulders, tighten their sarees and raise their heads in an attempt to fight back. They were not going to have their culture torn away from them as easily as one can tear off a bindi.
My Indian/Bengali culture has shaped me to be the person I am today, but I didn’t always proudly embrace certain practices and traditions. My mentor had asked me to talk about any childhood experiences that led me to try and hide my identity and I told her about an unpleasant interaction I had with children my age a few years ago. We decided to base my personal voice around that experience, and use imagery and vibrant descriptions to draw out powerful scenes. I also used various historical events and religious terms throughout the poem, which many people might not know about, so my mentor suggested we further explain certain concepts and words using footnotes.
Paromita Talukder is currently a junior at a high school in Bronx, NY. She has always harbored a love for creative writing that focuses on dissecting language and art that transcends language. She was intimidated by poetry until working with her Girls Write Now mentor and now writes poetry whenever she can. Talukder is a staff journalist for The Science Survey—an award-winning student newspaper—and hopes to continue journalism and poetry in college.