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Nose Pin by Zainab Ummer Farook

The first day back home,

my newly-minted, nose-pinned



to my mother what green-grocer Girish ettan

had been saying for two years,

a hint of grandfatherly mischief in his eyes:

she's turning into an annaachi!

Annaachi: ragpicker, sometimes


mostly unclean,

always dark-skinned, definitely

Thamizh. In sane, sanitized God's

own country, tongues


furiously, waging a thousand

quieter wars

on bodies

which defile its twin

deities of adakkam

and othukkam, and when

have wars ever spared

girls who come back

from college with a new-forged, nose-pinned face

and a newly defiant spine?


fears that the wine-dark

indent the nose-pin leaves behind

will affect my prospects

for marriage.

I laugh, wondering

what she'd think

of the woman

with a wayward strand of hair

who looks back from the mirror

when her straight-laced daughter

searches for herself

these days:

the one who kissed two boys, flirted

with three, fell in love with


and wears a nose-pin

that sits proudly

on her nose.


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