How I was taught to be a girl by Namratha Rao


Art by Maxwell Doig

The men in my country taught me how to be a girl.

My school photographer from 4th grade, Asked for the class photograph to be taken again, On seeing that some of the girls looked taller than the boys, Standing next to each other.

My friend from college told me, I needed to learn to be mindful of my attire. Like his sister, who he said was the perfect girl, Cuz she never let her bra straps show.

The shame in the eyes of some of my friends, When they heard me repeat the word porn, Right after them, while we were in a bus, Made it clear, I hadn’t yet learnt to be a girl.

I can never forget the astonishment, In the eyes of the boy I first dated, That he was staring in the face of a girl, Who had just asked for pleasure in bed.

It is almost sad to think that, I stand out as a lucky girl, To have dated men who let me wear anything I wanted. Shouldn’t that have been the normal?

The elder men in my family said and I quote “It is atrocious of you as a woman, To be coming home after 10pm”. Disappointed that all their teachings were in vain.

Here I am at 27, still atrocious, writing about all this, Clearly, not having learnt how to be a girl.



Namratha Rao is a 28-year-old millennial who turns to poetry for liberation. Follow her here.