Poem: Layers

One day I thought let me see
Just what is hidden inside of me
And I peeled back my skin to reveal
The first layer of fat
And under that

I am thirteen years old
I should be wearing the latest trend
Like the other girls my age
But on my first day back at school
I am in plus-size old-lady clothing
I try to convince myself
I am dressed this way 
Because I choose the look 
Of the more sophisticated woman
Mature beyond my years
But there is no choice in the matter
It is the only thing my mum could find to fit
So I spend my time desperately hoping
No one will say anything
And they don’t
But the snigger shows in their eyes

Though it hurt to revisit that moment
I pulled back another layer
To see what else was there

Sitting on the doorstep reading a book 
Because the street kids don’t want to play with me – aged six
The community uncle thinking himself a first-rate wit  
For nicknaming me after a chubby Bollywood actress - age eight
Friends running away because it is hilarious
Watching me trying catch up with them – aged ten

The boy I like turning red when he learns of my feelings
Because it is embarrassing to be fancied by the fat girl – aged fourteen
The pretty popular pair bursting out laughing when I dare to wear
The lightest touch of makeup to school one day – aged fifteen
The guy I pass in the corridors and his comes-out-of-nowhere
‘Fatty lose some weight’ campaign – aged sixteen

Being left until last when teams
Are being picked in PE – time and time and time again
Being overlooked by the matchmaking aunties
As peers are picked on the marriage market - time and time and time again

My body shook 
From the emotions released with each memory
As powerful as the day they were created
But I kept on going
And it kept on coming
Layer after layer
Memory after memory
Pain after pain
Adulthood experiences no better than those
Of childhood and adolescence

So many years
So much hurt
Hidden in the layers
Hidden from the world
With a wide I’m Okay smile
I just kept on pushing it in
Shoving it down
The pain the food
The pain the medication
The pain the poison
Just kept shoving it in 
And letting it build up
And adding endlessly 
To the number on the scale

And there I was
Still hefting it around
In all of the layers
That made up me
And I asked myself 
A still unanswered question
Would I ever be able to let it go?

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