Student Entry: They Don’t Know by Shyla Upadhyay

They don’t know when they pinned me to the ground,
Ridiculed me for not doing their homework,
Denounced me as the “selfish loser” to the entire school,
They snatched my only penny of confidence,
Never to return it.
They don’t know, and they never will.

They don’t know when I wore my midnight blue dress that night,
The whispers of “damn, she’s so fat,” cut through my bones.
The pearl-white lace in my dress strangled me as I tried to keep my chin up.
That night, I threw my dress into the fire,
My self-image burned with it.
They don’t know, and they never will.

They don’t know when I messed up my recitation that day,
Their bouts of laughter still ring in my ear,
And every time the spotlight shines down on me,
My mind replays that very moment.
There is no pause.
They don’t know, and they never will.

They don’t know when they snickered and sneered as I passed the halls,
They made me feel like a ghost.
So small. So weak. The scars of their words were invisible to them all.
I wanted to leave, run far away and bury myself in shame,
But I was chained to this existence.
They don’t know, and they never will.

I stare at my ugly self in the mirror by my bedside,
Into those lonely and lifeless eyes.
Those labels etched in my mind have swallowed me,
All I feel now is an emptiness, so dark and deep.
Will I ever escape from this pain?
Now, I don’t know if I ever will.

We don’t know the brutal effect our words can have on those around us. It’s hard for young
teenagers to speak up about the mental problems they’re going through. We need to be there
for one another and show our support through love. We must always spread kindness.

The poem was written by Shyla Upadhyay, a student of Vasant Valley School, Delhi. She submitted her work as a part of the Belongg Writing Contest 2021.

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