Look Me In The I by Zui Kumar-Reddy

You must be careful, it's a sensitive issue, fuck that. That's level one shit. Know this, I live up here, my door opens into translucence and Shiva lies in my bed, decorating my body with stories made of mallige. This is a whole other level.


But I know nothing. And I know this. When we were small, an old man stood at the wall of the school and asked us to make love to him. He said MAKE LOVE. Like some sort of proper motherfucker who makes love to seven year olds. We walked away. We giggled. We didn't say anything. Not to our teachers. Our teachers who got so upset the week before when I asked them how spiders humped. Fuck no, we didn’t tell them. And how do spiders hump anyway? I know the sick fuck. He lives on the corner of Rest House Road. He shoves his hands into his pants every time you walk by. Sometimes he follows you home. He thinks if no one else is around maybe a little something something. Something sick, something violent, some of that level one carnal rapist bullshit. Yesterday I was going to say, I don't give a fuck, because I'm on this cloud, man, and he's just a rabid rat trying to take shits outside my door, whatever. But I'm not going to say that.


I am going to say this instead. And listen, I don't want this to be a thing. It might come like a tidal wave and knock your drink out of your hand and mess shit up a little. So here's the trigger warning, Bishi and my dear family and all the people who don't like my dirty mouth, I guess. Let it be said. Bishi, I really do wish that they'd call you Shit Fuck instead. There is some perverse affection insinuated by the placement of that vowel at the end of your name. Maybe you remember. Everyone else pretended to forget.


In our family we like to talk about food, a lot, all the time. Daali thoy and upkari and pulimunchi and I just googled names of Mangalorean foods because to me it all sounds like gassi gassi mmm mmm most of the time. It's beautiful. The food. Talking about it. It makes you feel secure and connected, we're just human, all floating around in a coconut milk broth. We like to have oil baths on the morning of Deepavali and dress our golden bodies in new clothes. We like to go to weddings, looking like fucking goddesses. We like when people tell us we look this way. We like to pray, because please god keep us all alive and fairly happy. All my snide shit aside we like to be with each other and love each other. We like music. We like wine every now and then. We like justice, we do. We like to help make the change from fucked up to slightly less fucked up. We like to stand in the crowds at all the protests for the little girls who were raped by their principals, for the girl who died in Delhi. We stand at those protests holding our pieces of cardboard high because this is bullshit. But we really, really do not like to talk about Bishi fingering my mother when she was four years old.


And listen, I'm not trying to say you should have done it like this or that. My dirty mouth comes from a place of privilege. If some sicko uncle tried to mess with me at four years old, I had two parents, who like raging bulls, would have fucked his happiness, for this life and all the ones to come. My parents taught me to talk about this shit. As much as everyone else tried to un-teach it. At school they'd shush me, and they'd confiscate all the boy’s phones. They said they found soft porn on them. (What the fuck were our teachers doing looking for porn on phones anyway, and then figuring out whether they were going at it hard or soft). But I was taught to talk about sex, how innocent and beautiful and weird and wet and, only everyone else tried to make it shameful. I was also taught to talk about the things you pretend to forget, especially those things. I was taught to scream that shit from the roofs. Like I'm doing now. Bishi fingered my mother when she was four years old.


But I told you, my dirty mouth comes from a place of privilege, and I don't know what it was like being you. I don't know what it was like having to hide under the table every time your tuition teacher came home because he'd drag you out and do things that you can't talk about. I don't know what it was like hearing from your four-year-old daughter that your cousin put his hand in her pants. Your cousin, your mother's brother's son, he was twenty something, he was young, he was a boy who made a mistake, plus then it becomes about your mother, plus then it becomes about her brother, plus then again he was a boy, and your daughter, she was a girl, and she was four. I don't know, what it was.


But don't go climbing any roofs now or anything, that's just me being an enraged motherfucker. My mother is a goddess. All that next level shit you've heard me say, that's her story, I just write it down. It's just that everyone keeps calling him Bishi, dear cousin Bishi, the friendly neighbourhood fingerer, and I felt like I needed to say something. That fucking vowel, man, the 'i' at the end, it's disgusting. It's like you've accepted the fingering, forgiven the fingering and then felt affection for the fingerer all in that one letter. I just think Shit Fuck would be more appropriate from now on, that's all.



Zui Kumar-Reddy studies Biology and Creative Writing at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, North Carolina. She loves animals and distortion pedals. She will be returning to her Bangalore home in May.