The narrative of my life, from the moment I recall, can be elaborated in merely a word, “Unconventional”. I was illuminated about it, almost every second, sometimes from my family members, while the others by my sports instructor. My movie choices, preferred songs, treasured literature, reflected something foreign for the Male Gender. While my friends and acquaintances adored the music of Blue and Backstreet Boys, I would tap my feet to the rhythm of I’m a Slave for you.
My obsession to read more about what celebrities wore to the Red Carpets than what happened at the cricket ground, though unnerving for me, became a matter of concern for my dear ones. Initially, when someone asked me about what movies I binge-watched, I’d take no time to say “Mean Girls”, or “Barbie and the Twelve Dancing Princesses”. Until my friends taught me not to say such things universally, that my choices should reflect more vigor and strength. I was told that my choices were not ideal and that I should refrain from speaking out loud, the notions that presented my personality if I were to be acceptable.
Now, when someone inquired about my music penchants, my voice would utter “Akon”, while my heart would whisper “Britney.”
In grade five, we were taught a lesson called “Patterns” in our Maths Class. We learned that in a recurring pattern, there was always a figure which didn’t follow. We called it the “Odd One Out”, a term which became adjacent to my outlook. This world often promulgated to me that it was but a beautiful pattern, and I was the odd one out.
As a kid unaware of the stringent regulations of the world, I was having a hard time wondering, why could I not openly state my choices. Why could I not watch the Music Video of “If you Seek Amy”, Why did my friends want to impose GTA Vice City on my computer? It’d kill me seeing my mother helplessly trying to make me watch Cricket Tournaments. I’d watch them, forcefully. It was one of the instances when I forced myself into liking stuff “boys” should like. Relatives would torment my single mother saying, this was bound to happen without a fatherly figure.
In the Sports Sessions in my school, my fitness instructor would insult my physical vulnerabilities and designate me as “The soft and sloppy one”. But I still proceeded to the Sports Ground, in the hope that maybe one day, I’d start appreciating it, like a Normal Man. While my classmates chose the team, I was the last one to be chosen, and the team in which I went towards the end was considered the most unfortunate.
Eventually, my resilience withered, and I stopped going to the Sports Field. I found a new love, the “library”. While the rest of my class played, I sat in the library, searched for stories wondering if I’d see someone like me in them, but all in vain. I did find solace in Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott. In the daily newspaper, the Entertainment Page held me with their origamic hands.
There were moments when I wanted to reveal, but the very next thought that occurred in my mind was to conceal. To conceal what I felt, to bury deep what I deeply desired. I was being galloped inside a never-ending ditch. One day, while reading a newspaper, I saw a lady harnessing pink glitter on her face, fringes kissing her forehead, exaggerated shoulders and green sequins draping her body, and a kind of name that I’d never heard before, “Lady Gaga”.
The divine woman appeared to me the term Liberation taking a tangible form. I copied the name in my notebook, and after reaching home after school that day, I went to a local Cyber Cafe to search about “Lady Gaga.” I devoured all the content I could find on her. Her music, her attires, her lyrical brilliance, everything felt like an unshackling medium. I wished I could do what she did, yelled with her outfits how she wasn’t born to fit in. But, the feeling of not being accepted in the public front haunted me.
One day lying inside my room, when I thought my life was nothing but a never-ending abyss of obscurity and hesitance, I saw two new pairs of socks. I stared at the pairs, and then out of the blue, wore two different socks from a pair each. A thought made way through my brain and hushed, “Who makes these rules?”, “Who chooses what kind of choices should I have?”, “Who gets to tell me if I should like something or not”?
It was at that moment that cosmic energy made its way through me. Mismatched socks promulgated my rebel, my liberation. It was my way of whispering, “I won’t fit in” in a world where I still wanted to be bearable.
That’s when I tasted the fruit of liberation, of escapism like I was trapped in a suffocating prison and for a second, fresh air greeted me. Till the time I found enough guts to tell the world who I was, the mismatched socks did that for me. They were loud enough to tell the world that I don’t care what rules it has, and yet underrated to be acceptable. So in a way, I revealed what I was, and yet was concealed. That made me feel unforbidden and metaphorical something distinct in me. Till I gained the courage to say it out loud, that was my way of screaming it to the world.
Mismatched socks were an explanation of what went inside my head, that I didn’t know how to say out loud in the world. It was a subtle way of yelling “I won’t fit in.” I had way too many thoughts in my brain, and no way to let them out, so one way I put them out was wearing mismatched socks. They were my armor in a world that threw bullets at me for doing something I didn’t do, an instant language when my own mind was too abstruse to comprehend.
While watching a Ted Talk of Maria Raveendran, titled “The Power of Fashion”, I heard her mention how every individual has their own set of “lab-coats.”, indicating certain outfits that speak for them, that makes them feel represented, and empowered. It’s baggy pants, for some, while it’s a dramatic, stone-studded eyeliner for others. Watching the talk made me nostalgic. It made me realize how Fashion has been my savior, even when it didn’t have to be. Even when I didn’t even know
As I grew up, mismatched socks became by “lab coat”, an underrepresented form of stating what went up inside my head. Little by little, I found those ensembles compelling that were conventionally not for men, and sequined coats, lavenders, and pink, over-the-top accessories started showing up on my vision board.
Not only did my mismatch socks portray how I felt, but what I wanted to be, poles Apart from the constrained conventions of the society. In a world where everyone wanted me to conceal my reality and wanted me to mold into the regulations this world has for us, Mismatched Socks were my subtle declaration.