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"You Smell Like Curry"

Updated: Mar 12

From the girls who would snicker behind my back

To the boys who would cover their noses

There was always a reason to lose my focus

From the me who would always cower behind their gazes

Even a teacher who said straight up to my face

"I can smell you from miles away"

She didn't even hesitate

To the me who thought to have an ally

Even adults can drown in their torturous cries

"You smell like curry"

"You should bathe"

"Go back to your country"

"I would rather take a fish out on a date"

Small words that held the world

A price to pay for thinking I belonged

In the sea of blue that I thought to be my song

My red seeped through my perfect stature

Methods of locking my culture in were lackluster

I don't want to be called "Curry Girl"

Who cried when a teacher said she smelled

As there is nothing worse than being an outcast

But it was a small price to pay when your family is known to fast


The poem I wrote called "You Smell Like Curry" highlights my experience as a South Asian attending a school where I was known to be the only Bengali person. People often commented on the way I smelled because my mother cooked traditional dishes such as curry to feed my family and the smell of those dishes seeped on to my clothes. In the poem, I use crafts such as dialogue, imagery, symbolism, repetition, and end-stopped lines to elevate how people of my culture get comments like this all the time, but the hurtful discrimination is not acknowledged.