19 and Hindu.

Religion has a special place in my home and even though my parents aren’t very strict, it looms large above us. It dictates how things must be done or not done, it provides the basic ground for all our morality and righteousness. “19 and Hindu” is a poem that examines this conflict between queerness and religion and can they survive together or if one must be rejected for the other to exist.

My mother said,
bow and pray
not for wishes but for forgiveness
because I have known
                    more sins than graces.

How to tell her,
I’m more drawn to the mouth
of men than the feet of deities.
To the sin that tastes
          like a blessing to the palate
                  than blessing itself.
To the rituals of bed
          than that of morning floor.

She says, God watches every move
a man makes and for sure They do.
In Hinduism,
          there are 33 million Gods
          over 966 million people.

But it’s you I’m hiding from ma.

So when I say mother loves God
more than her own son, it’s true.
Because God is pious
                  whereas I am 19
and already had so many things
in my mouth,
                  none of them holy.

Ashish Kumar Singh (he/him) is a queer poet from India and a post graduate student of English literature. Other than writing, he reads and sleeps extensively. Previously his works have appeared—or are forthcoming—in Mason Jar Press, Blue Marble, Brave Voices Magazine, Tree and Stone and elsewhere.