I am not ashamed: A poem by Nisha Tandon

I am not ashamed to drape a “hijab” or a “burqa”

Though it masks and protects my dignity, I am not a coward 
Please do not stereotype me as submissive or weak 
If I choose to wear it, I am not oppressed but empowered 

I am not ashamed to belong to the LGBT community 
Don’t label me as queer or ever doubt my devotion 
Don’t silence my voice but embrace me as I blossom
So what if I am a shade different from you but have similar emotions 

I am not ashamed to step out of home in a short dress
But how do I avoid being a victim of the patriarchal society 
Stop judging me by the length of my casual attire
Call me a feminist if you may, as I give importance to my vanity 

I am not ashamed to be unable to converse in English 
I stand strong irrespective, breaking the barrier of language 
By safeguarding the purity and pride of my freedom
As my mother tongue and culture I proudly patronage 

I am not ashamed to be born imperfect 
Adorned on my brows are a few weary wrinkles 
Freckles and blemishes don’t mar my eternal beauty 
That’s graced with a crooked smile and eyes that forever twinkle