Reid Graham/ TMD

“Your favorite song?”

I never had an answer.

Not an English one.

“I have vocal class.”

“But that’s not real music, though.”

My heart sank slowly.

“This is cute, right guys?”

They stared, not saying a word.

I looked down in shame.

“What’s on your forehead?”

I rushed fast to the mirror.

It was my bottu.

“Y’all worship cows right?”

How could they ask that with ease?

“No.” They didn’t care.

No more sangeetham.

Only 97.5.

Wanting to fit in.

“Sorry, I’m busy.”

Keeping veena a secret.

Couldn’t let them know.

“Prom dress shopping sucks.”

“You could wear a half saree?”

I’d rather shop more.

“Smaller,” I ordered.

“How much smaller do you want?”

’Til you can’t see it.

“Got family stuff.”

It was a religious day.

They don’t know that, though.

I couldn’t be me.

Ashamed of all of myself.

Lost, confused, tired.

Made some new friends, though.

They changed my whole perspective.

I could be myself.

“Item songs, baby!”

2 a.m. Blasting B’Wood.

They know all these songs?

“We have to jam soon!”

Carnatic, Hindustani.

We loved our music.

“Yeah, I had practice.”

I stared at their patialas,

Gazed at my kurta.

As for my bottu,

I wear the same size as Ma,

Not wanting smaller.

Wearing my pendant,

I make sure it shines so bright,

Every single day.

I’m not afraid now.

Embracing my true, free self.

Finally myself.

MiC Columnist Smarani Komanduri can be reached at