Act like a boy

Published: May 7, 2017

They’d drill a hole through my throat and I’d bleed.

I asked people around me for thread to sow my wounds close,
But all I got was words.
Words that had already drilled holes in me like a drilling machine.

Words that left echoes in my mind, body and soul,
Like a drilling machine making roads through mountains.

These words wanted to make me a road to my boyhood

Drill
Act like a boy
Drill
Act like a boy
Drill
Act like a boy boy boy boy *echoing *

Always the last to be chosen to play;
Sometimes never chosen. Why?
Because when I threw the ball,
It was obvious my throw was not enough.
So when the other boys’ ball hit the bat,
The drill crucifies me by the wrist,

“Act like a boy”.

When forced to run on the green grass with them,
I’d run out of breath.
My legs would fail me,
Their legs won the race.
As if their synchronised thumps declaring
The absence of my breath,
The absence of my legs.
And their sneakers squeaking

“Act like a boy”
“Act like a boy”.

Drill drill drill through my legs.

I liked to sing the titanic theme song,
And just as I entered every night in my dreams,
They’d drill a hole through my throat
And I’d bleed.
Every night in my dreams as they screamed,

“Act like a boy,”
“Act like a boy,”
“Act like a boy”.

By now my heart had not stopped bleeding,
I had enough blood in me.
So I turned the blood to ink, my wounds on paper.
They ripped the paper apart,
Ripped my vision apart,

Boys don’t write.
Act like a boy,
Act like a boy,
Act like a boy,
Act like a boy”.

By now all I had left was my face,
And when I decided to shave off puberty
Because the wounds made me grow too quick
They drilled into my lips
As if looking my age was a crime I could not be forgiven for,

“Act like a boy,
Act like a boy,
Act like a boy,
Act like a boy,
Act like a boy”.

So when it came the turn of my soul,
I fled.
Asking the world that looked me up and down, what had I done wrong?

I had not given in to their piercing words,
I had not given in to their sharp sounds,
I had not given in to their declarations of my failed boyhood.
I had been brave.
I had been strong.
I had healed…

My mountain could not be carved into a road with their constant drilling.

I am confused.
What had I done wrong?
Isn’t that how boys act?

Haseeb Sultan

Haseeb Sultan

The author is is a dentist, writer, and an artist. He blogs at blog.haseebsultan.com and tweets at @haseebsultan_

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Sheraz Khalid

    Finally!!Recommend

  • Yamna Rashid

    I have been waiting for years for someone to speak up for the boys. And it is finally here!Recommend

  • Ahmar

    “I had not given in to their piercing words,
    I had not given in to their sharp sounds,
    I had not given in to their declarations of my failed boyhood.
    I had been brave.
    I had been strong.
    I had healed…

    Isn’t that how boys act?”

    Precisely how boys act. We don’t go around blaming patriarchy or misandry while demanding equal rights but preferred protections and favorable legislation for ourselves. Welcome to manhood.Recommend