why men are no good, or why you need girlfriends


You’re romancing your mirror self

Pores apart, she’s a pretty good package

Suddenly, a flash of silver-

lightning in the soft black clouds of your hair,

Suddenly, your tears are rain

and your fingers are reaching into the clouds

looking, looking for more lightning to burn your fingertips


You’re peeing, and the hard cool porcelain feels good against your sweaty legs

And suddenly you can’t pee

You’re full of Tang and water (among other things, like vim and vigour)

but you Just. Can’t. Pee.

Maybe the plumbing’s broken?

The porcelain chafes your skin as you settle your skirt

and realise you have Tap Envy. It’s gushing, and you can’t.


You’re shopping at an old haunt, the clothes and staff

as familiar as good friends, so betrayal is far from your mind

as you tug a pair of jeans on in the boxy little trial room

and they stop at your knees. They won’t go further.

You twist your neck to check. Size M, yes. 28, yes. You can’t even.

Keys, phone, plastic hangers clatter to the floor

as you retrieve your own clothes and the dregs of your self esteem

“Another time!”, you wave to the salesgirl, who asks if it fit, if you liked it, if you’d like anything else.

“Another time!”


You come home flushed from a small success at work,

a skeevy colleague chastened, a project progressed, praise earned

You’re New Woman, Superwoman, Modern Woman, Woman of Substance, Wonder Woman

You’re all the stock photos in your presentation on ‘Indian Women- Changing Roles’,

Slide Numbers 2 (‘Altered Appearance’), 3 (‘Enhanced Confidence’), 4 (‘Challenger Mindset’) and 5 (‘Efficiency’)

Till you come home, and they want to know when you will make a baby because clearly,

your nights belong to presentations about changing the world.


Your best friend is getting married. Her invite,

a sunny yellow gold-embossed rectangle, has been taped to your fridge for over a month now.

You’ve scraped a chewing gum and rotting grass off of your favourite heels with your fingernails

because you’re going to wear them and dance holes into the carpet at her house.

And then, like a bad, hammy actor, a Family Emergency makes an appearance

and you can’t go. This girl held your head in your arms when you broke up,

washed your snot and fed you with her lunch money, and you can’t go.


You’re so bad at sex you mortify yourself

Suddenly, you’re lurking in the Self Help section of a seedy bookstore,

and Googling the female anatomy, committing whole diagrams to memory,

because you are what you do when it counts.. But you fail, and it’s not cute anymore

to giggle self-consciously, or to wrap the sheets around you and pretend you’re a mummy

No, it’s not cute. You need to step up. You need to stain the sheets a red the colour of your bridal sari

And when it happens, you need to be elegant, woman-of-the-wordly, detached, even, about it. You’re a Woman now.

But what if you aren’t? What if you don’t want to be?  What if you’re still a girl who likes to pull the sheets over her

head and be Casper The Friendly Ghost?


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