Feature Friday Guest Poet Andie Padayachee Presents 'BOY'
Book Cover of Seven Deadly Sins
It all started when my dad said he wanted a soccer team of boys,
I was never meant to be here―not as a woman at least.
As one, I felt purposeless.
In primary school
I was often asked why my sideburns were so long and thick.
I shaved them off.
But they grew back mightier,
With a vengeance―
As if they knew I was trying to kill them.
Same with my skin.
I was ridiculed for having dark skin.
What kind of bullshit is that?
Just because your melanin is store-bought or forced
Does not give you the right to take it out
On my heritage of beautiful pigment.
See, it all starts with the parents
And what they think.
Children are just megaphones without filters
Of their parents’ thoughts.
Bias is not born,
It is learned―
As with prejudice.
But now the tables have turned
The beauty industry is using plus-sized models to wear their underwear.
Do you understand what that does for a girl like me?
A girl who grew up with stretch marks on her thighs and hips
And never saw a man’s lips until she was 19?
Growing up in a society and family who slashed
Bloody wounds of words all over my body,
Looking in the mirror every day and hating what I saw.
Sticking my finger deep down my throat
When everyone was fast asleep
So no one could hear the tears and enamel
Being scraped off with my fat.
Overdosing on diet pills
So that they could work faster.
So I could be the woman people actually wanted to look at
Not just the fat clown that jumped at everyone’s jest.
I cried the first time it happened
And I rejoice every time I see it.
For it is not just a marketing campaign.
It is hope for girls with vitiligo
Mapping out their gorgeous skins
Those who are blessed with not one,
But more colours on their canvas than we.
Hope for obese girls
Girls with no hair
Hope for girls who have eczema
Just hope that we may find ourselves
Somewhere other than the same mirror
We’ve been trying to shatter for years.
What broad shoulders you have!
What big, rough hands you have!
“Has anyone ever told you that you have masculine features?”
“No,” I told them, “But thank you.” I said
Then went home and crept a blunt blade over my scarred forearms.
When I auditioned for a major production,
The other girls tittered.
I sang baritone and alto
While they sweetened the air with their soprano voices.
The tittering ceased once I got in
For I had a voice like Macy Gray’s—
Deep and soulful,
And only in need of a little tuning.
They didn’t get in.
I had been missing periods for months
Nearly over a year
So I visited a stoic doctor.
She asked me to lie on her bed.
She layered icy gels on my stomach
As frosty as her eyes
And pressed down hard
With the force of a thousand men screaming at me to join them
Because it would just be easier.
With the scanner of the ultrasound machine
She diagnosed me with PCOS.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.
It’s very common in women these days
Along with its dark sister,
That means I’m very unlikely to have kids of my own
Unless I drown myself in pills.
I’m hairier and bulkier than most women
Because I have extra testosterone in my body.
So does that give you any right to toss insults
Disguised as innocent questions at me?
Does having a deeper voice make me any less of a woman?
Does having a thick waistline and stomach make me a man?
I was just never what you were taught was beautiful.
Tell me, do big rough hands
And hair make me less of a woman than any other?
These just show me where I am from.
Hands tattered from hard work
Broad shoulders to carry the weight of the burden of my heartache
Hair to show that I am growing
Dark skin to show that the sun loves me more
Than she dares love any man else.
Does calling me “boy” make me less of a woman?
No, it really does not.
About the Author:
Andie Padayachee is a South African poet, author and influencer! Better known as AndieNannyFine on TikTok, they are a non-binary person who grew up being the weird kid at school and have been writing since the day they could use words. Their sister used to ask them why their writing was in the sky, they could never quite stay on the lines. However, it did work out.
Andie always managed to do things a bit 'tilted'. They performed in plays, but being born into a conservative family meant playing queer characters on stage was not acceptable, they shared their thoughts at poetry events, and when it came down to it, they composed all their skew lines and made it into a book. And even though they no longer identify as a woman, they still went through being one.
Taking a leap and jumping into live-poetry opened so many doors thanks to Writers’ Bloc. International. All with thanks to live performances, amazing journeys, beautiful people and live radio shows, their book, Seven Deadly Sins, is set to be published on the 31st of August 2021!
Andie was one of the main attractions at We Are Becoming's My Body, My Temple, in association with Writer's Bloc. International, encouraging a safe and loving space for queer people who feel that they have no where else to grow. Their desire in life is to just spread laughter and love with the world and let all the supposed “sinners” know that they always have a home.
Seven Deadly Sins is a translation of religious and queer trauma, as well as longing. It is raw so, take heed.