How To Become The Ghost Town You Don’t Want To Be At

Unsplash / Nicole Mason
Unsplash / Nicole Mason

When you crawl out of your mother’s womb, your little legs and hands reach out, trying to find other bodies and sensations to hold onto. Little by little, you learn to feel one with your flesh and bones. The warmth of your mother’s nipples at the unearthly contours of your lips, your thumb slowly exploring the dimensions of your mouth, the spaces between your fingers holding onto the ones between your father’s, teaching you that all voids need to be filled and that all space only exists when it’s occupied, how you unconsciously and deliberately start living within the space and the shell that your body is.

But as you grow up, you notice how your body cripples the movement of your thought more than allowing the movement of your legs, how it falls into a frenzy onto staircases into unfriendly arms, how it makes your fingers run through your hair 55 times with crippling anxiety before an interview, how it shivers on hostile winter mornings and holds and demands things you don’t understand and never intended to.

People tell you how you should wear your lipstick a little lighter, how you should uplift your shoulders to look taller, how you should wear heels with dresses but also avoid them as it could lead to disfigurement, how you should not hug men in public for too long, how you should keep your legs at an appropriate distance from one another so they’re far but not too much, how your eyes roll up too much and how your tongue gets in between your sentences.

Gradually, your body start shivering with unbearable shame, takes awkward pauses between wedding dance routines, hugs another body with the anticipation of a flower vase in a deadly desert, always hurts itself in the process of becoming things that can only be attained by unbecoming.

You shrink yourself to fit into uncomfortable spaces in socially constructed imaginations, with yours eluding you forever. You’re afraid of doing anything in pictures except smiling and pouting, your legs are battlefields drawing themselves closer every moment of the day preparing to prevent a devastating attack, your dance routines are mere instruction manuals ruining the only thing you thought could make you free, you never claim the goddess of a lady you could’ve been. The shame for you in other people’s eyes slowing crawls its way into the deepest corners of your chest, and stays.

They say. They shout. They scream. Till your bodies become ghost towns.

Towns you keep all your little lockets at with memories of your past lovers but never wear on your scared necks with collar high sweatshirts, towns you learnt to breathe life into when they crumbled on the floor into a mess of blood and bones after the boy you loved chose to let go of your ghosts and become one instead, towns you want to escape but fall back on as familiar sufferings, as the blood-stained hands that clean your wounds till they become annoying neighbors for the catalysts in your gradual healing.

I’m afraid my body is becoming a ghost town, decaying residues of unwarranted scrutiny and hopeless aspirations. A little more shame. A town people will share stories of over late night conversations, a little mystery, an otherworldly illusion, a warning symbol, a memory of a place someone visited once and never got back from. A ghost town people will talk about for years to come, but no one will ever visit.

Please come over. Come over. Come over. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Avnika Gupta is a writer and a performance poet based in New Delhi.

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