How To Say No, poetry by Jahnavi Gogoi at
Bardia Hashemirad

How To Say No

How To Say No

written by: Jahnavi Gogoi


The tip of my tongue
Knocked on the roof of my mouth
Jaw dropping
Nose vibrating
Consonant gently moving
Into an O

The air suddenly turned electric
And the silence screeched
Everyone froze

“No” I said
This time louder
Stronger, bolder
Even though I was alone
I could tell it was a chorus
Of furious women

My mother, saree crumpled, sweat dripping after hours in a hot kitchen
Sarah who is afraid of being called a stuck-up snob
The woman with a purple streak who doesn’t make eye contact on the subway
May who says maybe with a shrug
Ann who hides behind theoretical discourse
My grandmother who bit her tongue instead
All my sisters who adjust
My friend who lets it go and meditates
“Take deep breaths” she says

They were all there
The day I learned to say no

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