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(un)natural

CAS for Database

Anuva Chowdhury

Dhaka, Bangladesh

Sunbeams

Poetry

1500 animal species engage in same-sex activity. i wish i'd stop looking for proof of my existence. walruses are bisexual by nature.


so am i.


my mother's language doesn't have a name for it. she thinks she understands me but sometimes i say no and she hears maybe. she grieves a daughter who wasn’t always angry. i think i understand her but what if i wasn't listening? no one hears the words i say under my breath.


but my mother language is a foreign tongue. tinted white in my voice       plastic sounding. i give up too soon two pages into a bengali novel. my mother's father was a bengali novelist. defined a generation of a language i can't define myself with.


i learn queer terms in asl and sign them in the mirror behind her back. people say i have a dancer's hands. they memorise movement fast.

i haven't met the mirrored walls of my dance school since we locked ourselves home. i want to miss it but can't. the feel of it       static rhythm       choreographed femininity       my body a medium       it's gone. only smiles performed for the sake of the art. my heart sped. my arms stretched. my skin shed. all manufactured emotion.


the quiet simmers in the kitchen sink. i make tea like an explosive potion: water set to boil on blue flames       half-afraid to turn on the stove. i watch too closely. measure tea leaves by the spoonful. counting. here they cook by instinct i was born without. i can't create without a recipe. amber 

liquid       milk-polluted       pour till you get the right colour.


but my mother told me not to believe everything i hear.       this country sold me false hadith. all interpretations of religious texts are done by the patriarchy. manipulated politically. distorted by colonialism. recipes are written by power for power. “make your own,” she said.


section 377 of the penal code of bangladesh criminalises “carnal intercourse against the order of nature”              derived from british colonial law introduced in 1861. they have pride marches in britain. remember who wrote the rules.

EDITORIAL PRAISE

Unearthing identity in a series of sharp images and commentary, "(un)natural" probes at personal turmoil with remarkable delicacy, all while an undercurrent of resistance simmers below. Here, we witness the intertwining of passion, defiance, and tenacity, realizing for ourselves what our identities culminate to.

Anuva Chowdhury (she/they) is a queer Muslim writer in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Seventeen and searching, they write to explore the intersections of their identity, living with mental illness, and the hideous beauty of the worlds they inhabit. They have been published in the Ice Lolly Review, Inertia Teens, Intersections Magazine and Cathartic Youth Literary Magazine.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR