That Moment / To Love is to Lose Oneself! – by Prerna Bakshi

That Moment

(First appeared in Foliate Oak Literary Magazine)

 

Like a storm that

came from nowhere.

Like a newly bought clock that

just stopped ticking.

Like a pot full of food that

took a lifetime in the making,

suddenly slipped from the hands

to the ground, splattering all over the place.

Like a book

near the end

with its pages

torn out.

Like a pair of shoes

always worn

but now with

one gone missing.

Like a phone with

a dead dial tone.

Like a door that’s been

slammed shut.

Like that photo

carried inside your wallet

of that one person

you love the most

is all

that’s left

of them

anymore.


 

“To love is to lose oneself!”

(Previously published in Loud Zoo, Bedlam Publishing)

 

Said my uncle

almost with no sense of irony,

as it left me muttering to myself:

unless you’re a man!

For my Auntie

love followed a very predictable pattern.

Lovelessness transformed into marriage,

marriage into somewhat of a losing streak,

the last name was (as is usually) among the first to go.

 

The name we carried all our lives,

one of the first things we learnt to write,

the name that was called in the classroom

every time the teacher took the attendance, and

we replied: Yes! Present!

as our friends tried to distract us, tease us, make us giggle.

The name we would use

year after year,

paper after paper,

on our examination sheets,

the name we’d be desperate

to find on the school board

written next to pass, every time the results came out and

we’d breathe a sigh of relief.

The name mentioned in our

report cards, certificates, degrees

once we graduated,

the name we couldn’t wait

to show our parents

for we knew that was as close

as they were ever going to get

to feel as if it was they who graduated

because life failed them long ago.

The name that filled their eyes

with tears of joy and pride.

All of this and

all that it represented

is the first to go.

 

Overnight the house we called our own

turns into just another guesthouse,

reminding us our time’s up

to pack our bags and go,

reminding us as if

we overstayed our welcome,

though, its owner always knew

(and never let us forget)

we were not the permanent kind anyway.

We could not afford the house, and

the house could not afford us,

the home we grew up in

is the next to go.

 

From what we’re allowed to cook,

to what we’re allowed to wear

to how long (if at all) can we have a working life

to how many friends can we keep in our private lives.

All these questions queue up in line,

autonomy is the next to go.

 

Why must we lose ourselves,

lose who we are,

just to be deemed worthy

of being loved?

If what’s known as ‘love’

necessitates one to lose, the one

who has always lost,

as a precondition,

as a prerequisite,

then this game has already

chosen its winner

before it even began.

 

To love is to gain,

not to lose,

least of all – oneself.


 

prernabakshi

Prerna Bakshi is a writer, poet and activist of Indian origin, currently based in Macao. She is the author of the recently released full-length poetry collection, Burnt Rotis, With Love, which was long-listed for the 2015 Erbacce-Press Poetry Award in the UK and cited as one of the ‘9 Poetry Collections That Will Change The Way You See The World’ by Bustle in the US. Her work has been published widely, most recently in The Ofi PressSick Lit MagazineRed Wedge Magazine, TRIVIA: Voices of Feminism and Prachya Review: Literature & Art Without Bordersas well as anthologized in several collections, including America Is Not The World by Pankhearst. Website: http://prernabakshi.strikingly.com/

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