Prickly Paradigm, 2024 

Rhubarb Festival at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre
For this performance, I drew parallels between the cactus and my queer inner child. Just as queerness continually evolves and defies strict definitions, I find myself embodying a cactus—a symbol of resilience and healing in the face of adversity, transcending fixed gender identities. This representation provides a conduit for exploring uncharted territories of gender within the sphere of healing.

Reflecting on my early years, when Vridhhi entered this world, society assigned the label of a girl. But as words formed, they emerged in a manner more akin to a boy's. The constraints of Hindi, a language deeply rooted in gender, felt suffocating. Speaking naturally as a boy contrasted starkly with the discomfort I felt conforming to a girl's speech. Confronted with ridicule and continuous questioning of my gender, I consistently challenged the established norms, asking, "Why must I fit solely as a boy to speak like one? Why can't I exist somewhere in between?" Yet, more often than not, my queries were met with confusion.

I wear pretty dresses, but I talk like a boy,
With hair short, prickly and spikey,
I'm only five, but I've got lots to say,
Why can't I just be me, in my own special way?

"Why do you talk like a boy?" they always ask,
"Are you a boy?" they wonder, up to their task.
But I'm just me, a little confused,
Why do I need labels, can't they be excused?

It feels funny inside, like little spikes,
When they label me, it's not what I like.
I'm not just a boy or a girl, you see,
I'm like a cactus, wild and free!

So I'll stand tall, in my prickly paradigm,
No need for labels, I'm doing just fine.
I'm me, just me, bursting their bubbles, that's all I need,
A cactus kid, planting my own little seed!

vridhhi chaudhry 2023 © All rights reserved
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