The Missing Pages of a Textbook

By Nandini Rawat

Indraprastha College for Women

textbooks tell every child

the difference

between a house and a home

but they don’t tell

what to do

when a house isn’t a home


shut yourself out and seek out books

read and pine for lives

that will never be yours

thick tomes dense with words

too heavy for young wrists

the label “gifted” a flimsy gauze

for your bleeding mind


stand under a showerhead, dry

don’t let the water wash away the grime

it is your shield

against large hands and hot exhales

against unyielding thighs and bony knees

or so you think but all it gets you

are isolated corners

and repulsed faces


when a house isn’t a home

but a building

where the air is too heavy

to pull into your lungs

and the exit disappears

behind you

and the walls keep coming