STORIES
Mango Girl
September 13,2021
By Isabelle Quilty
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Sometimes I think it was in my blood to love mangoes. But see, they’re messy. Sure maybe we’re meant to eat mangoes sliced and diced and enjoyed on top of Acai Bowls to post on Instagram. But I love them at their rawest, at their messiest. I love tearing through the flesh with gnashing teeth and an eager tongue to lick the juices both sour and sweet. Maybe it’s messy, but it’s primal. It’s what brings me joy. I think if I had to describe myself in one way, it would be primal. Not to say I’m archaic or animalistic, but I have a habit of blindly disregarding societal norms to be who I am at heart.

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(Baby Isabelle visiting Fiji with their mother)

To be an openly proud member of the LGBTQ community and the child of an immigrant in Australia? My, you truly would have to be primal. It’s not lesser to listen to your instincts. Sure, it can get you into trouble to varying degrees, but it can also lead to some of the greatest moments of growth.

For me, it occurred with a Beyonce music video.

High school is certainly a time when many will advise you to listen to your instincts and be yourself, while your internal instincts are screaming at you to blend in blend in blend in. Did I do enough blending? Probably not. But there is one moment I’ll always be proud of. The moment I truly listened to my instincts, ignoring any consequence for saying what I had to say, was when I was shown a Beyonce Music video and asked if I liked what I saw. Now, with my more masculine and tomboy aspects easy enough to see, my sexuality had been a bit of a running joke amongst my group of (mostly) heterosexual white girls. To them at least, it wasn’t part of me. It was a separate entity, easy enough to poke fun at, tease apart, and beat down week after week.

Laughing alone was always easier than being laughed at.

But it was when that pale white hand shoved her phone into my face, laughing ‘Do you like it?’

That primal instinct kicked me in the gut, and I spat out, ‘Yes.’

I think it’s burnt into my brain the way everyone fell silent and looked at me at once. The same way that I suppose the last supper is burnt into the average Catholic’s mind. Some replied happily with a hug and a welcoming clap on the back, one even shrugged and said she already knew. One, however, avoided me like the plague.

Sounds like the start of a really bad joke, or some page from a textbook about statistics, doesn’t it? But it was my reality. It was entirely me. Selfish as it sounds, that moment was entirely, primally me. A moment in time when a joke that was meant to attack something that was so intricately connected to my identity, was then turned right back onto the very reality she had constructed. A reality where I was a plaything, a punching bag to be made fun of because I wasn’t the straight, white, petite ideal of a semi-rural high school student.

Just a messy mango-eating girl who likes girls, who has learnt to every now and then to listen to her instincts.

About the Author:

Isabelle Quilty (they/them) is a young author from Newcastle NSW, raised on a mix of Fleetwood Mac and Bollywood Classics. They embrace their heritage by cooking traditional Fijian-Indian dishes and correcting people when they say ‘chai tea.’ Their mother immigrated to Australia at seventeen from an Indian-Fijian household,descendants of indentured workers the British relocated from India.

Socials: Twitter @Honeyberryzzzz   Instagram @isabellequiltyauthor



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