I do not understand people

Nandita Singh performed "I do not understand people" and bagged the first prize at "Conversations of Verse", an event organized in collaboration with Airplane Poetry Movement.

I never sat at the back of the bus
Despite years spent quietly peeping at giants that always seemed bigger than us
Somehow when time had managed to stretch my arms and legs so that they were finally long enough
To seize a frozen second of fame as I imagined myself walking down that metal corridor,
Amid a symphony of violins, and thunderous applause, as they rolled out of my red carpet floor
I had earned it after all.
Survived the turbulent seas of puberty,
And passed foreign language studies
That suspiciously looked a lot like mathematics to me
Smeared spoonfuls of dal on plates to prove I was at least pretending to eat healthy
It was my turn, I was older now
With shorter skirts, open shirts, and rolled up cuffs
But somehow still, I never quite made it to the back of the bus

So as I sat there, with my head in a book
I also learnt how laughter can be the loneliest sound in the world,
Because we inhabit an earth where songs are only heard,
when somebody sings
And somehow my words always got lost in a war in which noise inevitably wins
So I watched them walk by,
Flipping carefully tousled hair, hands placed on broad shoulders that broke the laws of the playground,
Because now somehow,
Girls and boys no longer threw sand in each others’ faces
No gap toothed child smiled his crooked smile with lettuce stuck in the rim of his braces
No mothers held hands, or wiped tears, as we waked towards our bus stops
And now instead of arguing over the last piece of candy,
Girls seemed to fight over a different kind of lollipop
I don’t know when it happened!
Maybe it was when I was napping in third period recess,
Because I woke up wiping drool from my face to discover that not a single damn thing made sense anymore
Suddenly we had become too old for hopscotch tournaments or tug of war

I think my muscles didn’t grow fast enough,
Because I always got tired making it all the way to the back of the bus
Ending up dropping my bad full of books just a few rows short of ‘cool,’
I thought hey, you know what, your awkward probably wont last beyond school
Nope. Still weird.
Maybe I spent a moment too long sleeping, Because I’m
nearly 20 and I still don’t understand people

We are probably the only species caught in an indefinite
struggle to make sense of itself,
As if years of making test subjects of ourselves hasn’t even remotely helped
See , I don’t think pandas hoard food to increase the market price of bamboo, I
don’t think my dog’s park buddies shun him just because he likes male dogs too
Okay so what if the first thing that he humped was my
neighbour’s Boston Mastiff
So what if he’s a pug and that match just wouldn’t fit
I don’t think bees hit the gym with shame after seeing a wasp’s sleek body and ability to lift
Nor do they probably wonder which insect has pollinated their flower before it,
Can you imagine tigers counting each other’s stripes to compare
Or streams of fish and tracts of land being segregated for black bears
Animals don’t have the ability to see difference where there isn’t one
Dogs don’t count every puppy in their litter to stop only when they find a son
See, this is why, I understand animals

Maybe I have spent too long staring out of bus and classroom windows
Looking out of metal bars and meshing that we let willingly cage us indoors,
Tracing patterns in clouds and counting constellations
Misspelling conformity and crowd in life’s everyday dictation
To really understand why we voluntarily chose the back of the bus,
As if we had an affinity for enclosed spaces that confined us
To an order of existence, a formula of acceptance that taught us exactly who we were supposed to be
I can’t speak for you,
But I chose leg space
Over the brief second atop the narrow pedestal of a hierarchy
I do not understand people

But you have to know this,
That no dog, or bee, or bird, or bear
Could feel the goosebumps of your kiss
No penguin could write me letters,
Imprints of ink so beautiful it could make me cry,
And no panda will lie on this hill with me,
Tracing patterns in the sky
You see, I would survive a million lifetimes of feeling out of place,
If it meant I could steal even a momentary glimpse of your face,
As you told me you loved me
We are human beings,
And we hurt, and hate, and fight, and break almost everything that was once whole
A fragile network of delicate hopes and broken bones
We bleed, and bend, and fix, and mend
Our hearts so that we may one day find,
Another one, that beats in sync with mine
Such a strange people we are
We have systems to explain systems,
Dividing the rotation of the globe into minutes and hours
We have travelled till the ends of the stratosphere, and mined till the centre of the earth
But we will still spend our entire lives looking for the purpose of our birth,
To be human, is utterly devastating,
And animals keep it simpler, I can’t deny that fact
I still don’t understand people,
And thank fucking god for that.

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