Birthday Poem

    By Srila Roy

    The ones I gave birth to are ten today
    The ones who were never meant to be
    Impossible, they said, a miracle.
    The ones who spent the first month of their lives in exile
    Who took only the bottle, not the breast
    They look like two rosebuds, she said.
    The ones who stayed when he left
    Who had to withstand his rage and fear of losing them
    And so they lived in his and hers
    Mine but also not mine
    Always two, never one.
    The ones who said, I missed mama at school today
    And now say, please and thank you and I didn’t mean it
    The ones who are me but never me
    Mine and theirs
    Are ten today.

    Srila Roy is a professor in sociology at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, where she teaches and researches gender and sexuality in the Global South. Her latest book is Changing the Subject: Feminist and Queer Politics in Neoliberal India.

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