The Man in the Mirror

June 08, 2022

A freshly minted teenager, Zehn Kashyap, is currently based out of New Delhi, India. She is a student of Grade 9 at Vasant Valley School. Zehn is a passionate, empathetic, focussed student with an incredible capacity for hard work. She represents the growing population of students worldwide who have special needs. Zehn has developed a special brand of empathy (her own superpower!) that arises from being able to walk for a mile in her fellow students’ (albeit rather painful!) shoes! Her story of rising above her disability and not letting it define her, is exemplary and inspiring for all students. Recently selected to be a member of her schools Outreach Council, she feels strongly about and is committed to giving back to the community that has enabled her to be what she is today. Zehn is grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the Mental Health Workshop for Girl Up. Having seen how it literally takes a village to pitch in she hopes to be able to pay it forward in a meaningful way by virtue of her rich experiences.

Pledge to Take Action

I believe deeply in my heart that love is love and we need to smash these narrow, parochial walls in which our world today stands shackled to make way for a more inclusive world – we owe that to our generations to come.

In honor of Pride month, I have composed and recited the attached poem ‘The Man in the Mirror’ to commemorate a community I believe enriches us by their very existence.

The Man in the Mirror

I have a very dear neighbour who lives nearby my home,
She is so much like family; for around her I’ve grown.
But sometimes when she thinks no one would look or see,
I’ve seen her sitting around in the park; weeping silently.
So today when I saw her in so much misery and despair,
I told her she’ll feel much better if her pain she’d share.

She held my hand tight and cried out loudly as she said,
“Rather than live life as a woman, I wish I would be dead.
I was born into this gender, but it never felt quite right,
I do feel like an imposter and it gives me such a fright!
I want to free up the man who in my soul does live,
I have so much passion and so much value to give.
But I am trapped in a woman’s body that I hate, every single day,
My hopes have turned to ashes; and I’ve watched them flitter away.
Equal rights for men and women, isn’t that what activists say?
But for people born MY gender, no one thinks about us this way!

What does the term LGBTQI to  the world actually  mean?
Being the butt of cruel jokes, is the way they demean!
They try to break down our spirit and make us feel so small,
Try to scare and convince us, that a disease    plagues us all!

Sometimes through violence and sometimes blackmail,
They force us to be silent,  never talking about our sad tale!
Is our sexuality a dirty curse, to be hidden always by us?
About one’s personal preferences, why should there be such a fuss?
Family and friends don’t care that our dreams will never come true
If no one   gets this issue straight, so how, as a child, will you?”

I was shocked into silence by her words and deep pain,
As I tried to cope with my feelings, my tears fell like rain.
And then a thought struck me, quite out of the blue,
I carefully framed my thoughts so my words would ring true.

“You are right, I am young and not conditioned today,
I don’t think it’s a sin, to be born this or even that way!
Beating and throbbing in every rib cage,
Lies a human heart, that no matter whatever it’s age,
Irrespective of gender or orientation at the end,
It feeds on love and respect from family and friends!

I do accept you as you are, with grace, honour and pride,
And, I do not believe gender is something you need to hide.
Love yourself and others for who they are at their core,
Love is the only true language that we should spread galore!
The face in the mirror, is the only one whose opinion you should seek
Remain true to yourself and one day your deeds for you will speak!

The young person, nodded thoughtfully and then smiled
“ Though you’re a young girl with your gender you’ve  reconciled
There’s hope for this generation and for its youngsters too
Unlike olden times, you are free now to do what you want to do.
I’ll work at accepting myself and being proud of all that’s mine
We’ve been created – we are a handiwork of intricate design
Once we accept ourselves and others as they are
Life will be peaceful and we can truly go afar.

With these wise words, we hugged each other as friends
Accepting each other now,
not waiting till society would make it’s amends

Pledge to Take Action