October 4, 2016

CNF/Essay by Adreyo Sen: "Colored"

Adreyo Sen is pursuing his MFA at Southampton College.


           I am five and it is my first visit to the dentist’s.  I remember being in a dark room, the dentist an impossibly polished man, tall, with immaculately shaved cheeks.  Once my ordeal is over, he invites me to choose a pencil from a tin, each pencil exhorting the importance of brushing.
           That first experience will draw me towards pencils and my best birthday parties in Bombay are those in which I return home with a pencil, like the green polka-dotted one I snagged at the end of a party featuring a magician whose sideburns scared me.
           I lean towards red in the dentist’s office.
           “Take blue,” says my mother, “That is your color.”
           Ever since, I try to see blue as my color.  Blue is the color of the sky and the sea that reflects my tempestuous quality.  I shall have the same blue bag through school and my undergraduate years, finally forsaking it for an Artist’s Series Jansport bag.   Before this betrayal, I shall refuse to give it up, no matter how torn and tattered it gets.
           But I am drawn to red despite this.  Daydreaming in boarding school, I imagine the brave men and women of my fantasies wearing red shirts and sarees and driving red cars.  I accumulate an astonishing number of red Parker Vector pens.  Many of the salwar kameezes I crossdress in will be red.
           I think of red as vital, as bold, as the symbol of courage.
           But when I cherish the mirage of my own femininity as an adult, I will draw closer to pink.  I will own a pink iPod shuffle and a pink iPod Touch and imagine myself as plaintively feminine in long pink gowns and salwar kameezes.  Pink will come to represent for me the richness of the female experience I am denied.
           At boarding school, aware of my crossdressing, even as I imagine I am holding this secret to myself, my form mates will see this effeminacy as a pinkness, telling my teachers of my propensity to wear pink nighties, even though I never had a feminine garment in that color.
           I will learn of this when I return to school after my undergraduate years, from a teacher I crushed on, and towards whom I was, frankly, a nuisance.
           Proud of my candor, I told her of my crossdressing.  To my disappointment, she dismissed it as a passing phase.
~Adreyo Sen 

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