Poem

Identity crisis
- Sooraj Subramaniam
e-mail: jaroos@hotmail.com

December 29, 2013

This is an excerpt of the poem which Sooraj Subramaniam shared on the seminar panel at Purush: The Global Dancing Male, on 22 December 2013 in Chennai. He had written it initially in response to a political event which took place in Malaysia in May 2013.

I am an identity crisis thatís been happening across three continents.

I am a set of frappes battling a Mexican hat dance at the barre in a ballet class.
I am the catch in a necklace forever kissing the back of the neck.
I am a string on an cello choked by the seasons dancing across my body.
I am the shruti in the vacuum cleaner.
I am the plastic bag that carefully holds together the lunch contents for two children traipsing across town on a Saturday afternoon on their way to paatu class, followed by ballet class, followed by (what my grandmother would call) 'proper' dance class.
I am the fold in the bellows, life support to a gasping rasping harmonium.
I am the sly in a bhangi that flirts with a blue-hued deity.
I am dusk, host to frivolity.
I am a sear, privy to pain, gypsying across knots in backs and aches in joints.
I am a hiccup of a pause in a tri tri tripalli tukra.
I am the sleep that nods on long bus journeys.
I am stray ankle bells hanging like charms on key rings.
I am the humility which occurs when the foot strikes the earth.
I am the clap and tinkle of the nattuvangam.
I am the glamour in the swish of a Kancheevaram.
I am the godliness in the ascension of Kiravani.
I am the pain and longing in a sideways glance.
I am the space between the tautness of an alapadma.
I am the ache which goes with awe.
I am the confluence of palms that honours privilege.

I am all these things and more.
So you can understand why I canít define myself simply by the whiskers on my cheeks.

Sooraj Subramaniam is a Bharatanatyam, Odissi and contemporary dancer based in Belgium.