Saturday, January 14, 2017

My Civil War | The Untold Story

       In light of the whole Bengaluru Mass Molestation being discussed and shared throughout social media a lot of thoughts surfaced in me. Today even 10-year Olds have a Facebook account and are very much informed than any average 40-year old. Not sure if that is a good thing. I so wish I was that informed a few years back.

        You see, I am a Rape victim. The sad part is, it took me two years to reconcile and understand that what had happened to me was rape. Before we get into details, shall we just use another term for rape? That word makes me cringe a bit even though I will be using it a lot here. How does WAR sound? So here on after I will be using the term "WAR" instead of "RAPE".
         Now going back to my earlier statement. I did not understand that what happened to me was war, for about two years. Because it was done by my boyfriend at that time. I thought war happened between people who did not know each other. Or people who basically did not like each other. At that point of time I thought this fellow liked me. So when he forced me inspite of me crying "NO" I thought this is how it will be. I was stupid. Stupid in way that I trusted a guy who basically forced me into a relationship by threatening me. I trusted him enough to go over to his place alone when he told me that he wanted to introduce his friends to me. 

          After watching most of those dumb Tamil movies I still thought it would be the bad guy who would ambush me. Never did the thought cross my mind that this fellow could harm me. Even when he forced my first ever kiss that I was uncomfortable and cried myself to sleep that night. When he started removing my dress and I tried to stop him, he simply tied my hands. What can a girl weighing 45 kg do against a guy who was still high from the drinks he had earlier that morning?  I don’t know what hurt me more. The way he was trying to enter me when I was not ready or the way he kept spewing out demeaning comments like “You are not even bleeding. You are such a slut huh.” “Your pussy stinks. Don’t you wash your genitals ever?” “Stop resisting whore”.

         Oh yeah! Probably a whore would've resisted, I thought. And at that point I did not even understand what I was doing to resist. I was lying there helpless with my hands tied, tears streaming down my cheeks. I remember not being able to sit without wincing for the next few days. I remember getting my period a day later and I couldn’t even get out of bed for a week. I remember sitting on the terrace and crying and asking for forgiveness from my grandpa. I had betrayed my dreams of losing virginity to my husband. That was my problem at that time. Not once did it cross me that the incident was not how one should have lost their virginity ideally (married or not) I did not know what happened. And I did not go to anyone for help. I did not even know that I needed help. 

           Fast forward two years and I was reading an online story where a war victim justified her side of the story. That is when I realized that I too am a war victim. Like the girl in that story. If you have ever been awoken by pouring a bucket of ice cold water, well this felt 1000 times worse than that for me. Now I knew I needed help. But how was I ever supposed to make someone understand that I did not even know what happened to me until now? 

         The interesting part was that, I was 17 when it happened. Legally speaking that guy should be behind bars now. Lets not go there for now. But what did I do? After I understood that I have been victimized?  Well I did not know what to do. Frankly it is not something I could be open about to anyone. Knowing that everyone just keeps judging everyone for no reason. I pretty much kept to myself though. Obviously, I blamed myself. Tried to find a psychologist. Found one on the internet. Went to him. He basically started preaching spirituality to me. Left it at that and went about my life. Buried myself in the world of books and art. Any hobby was interesting for me. My secret was very safe with me. And I was the only one who knew about it. I tried to talk about it to a guy who seemed all understanding. Then I realized he wanted sympathy sex with me. I was not going to go on that road man! Nope!  So I stopped trying to reach out to anyone. 

          Fast forward two more years. I was happily working, I have a boyfriend, a few good friends. One fine night when one of those friends got piss drunk and was whining about his life I couldn’t take it and blurted out “I am a war victim. Do you see me getting drunk and destroying my life? Do you see me complaining and whining?” That sort of shut him up for a good minute. The other friends in the conference call were shocked to say anything. And that is pretty much how I opened up to my friends. Until then I did not have the courage to even accept it. Much less say it out loud. They convinced me to tell my boyfriend. He was on a vacation that time. I still took the chance and told him. It took him a week to process the information and come back with a response. I don’t blame him. He still accepted me. He said he didn’t care about my past. But that one week was agonizing for me. Wondering what people think and wondering if they will just accept me… That was a very bad phase! I would rather not go down that road again. 

            I hope whoever is reading this can understand that Sex Education is not just information about how intercourse happens in a biological way. It is also about understanding what is acceptable and what is not. A no is a NO. No man or woman deserves to be touched against their wish. I am not saying one shouldn't have a partner or fool around. If your girlfriend says that she is not ready, let her be. Trust me! It will be much better when she is ready. Even if it was a friend or your own husband who violated you, it is war. If you think you initiated the make out session, you have the right to stop when you feel uncomfortable. 

             Any action that makes you feel violated/uncomfortable/used is war. Report it. Talk about it to your closest friend. If you think your parents will understand, tell them. Express your feelings. Get help. Do not keep it within yourself. You do not deserve it. This is your body. You make the rules. You decide who gets to touch it. It is your wish and only your wish. Anyone who says otherwise is wrong. They do not have any rights. 

             And Dear Men, please do not think that this is a privilege that only Women have. This is a fundamental right that everyone (supposedly) has. I can only talk from an woman's perspective. But please understand that I would hold your hand if you need the strength. I get it. I wished someone had told me all this. I still wish to punish the guy who did it to me. Making me scared to trust anyone in my life again. More than the physical after effects, it is the mental trauma that still haunts me. I wish I had the strength to talk about it. Until recently I did not have the courage to even come out and say that I am a war victim. I wished I had help. And this is me trying to help people who have been war victims. This is me reaching out. This is me saying "You decide what you want and what you don't want." 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Life Experiments | The Beard Cult


           Life has pretty much been a 'going with the (family) wind' as far as decisions related to how I looked like. To be more precise, it was to the extent of 'when I had to trim my hair' to 'what's the style I must keep' so that it adheres to each of our tastes (for me it should be trendy, for my mom it should be neat and presentable while for my granny it should befit her taste). After running through these permutations and combinations, my hairdo has more or less been a 'summer cut' (and yeah it is summer throughout the year in this part of the world) and a clean shave for a great part of my life. Fast forward to the present here I am sporting a beard for almost two years now. And for this 'crime' I have been judged all the sorts ranging from people telling me that I look like a Muslim to asking me if I am expecting a baby. I have greatly developed a thick skin to just plainly ignore all of those.

            However there has been this one constant comment that I used to get on my (bearded) face which I couldn't ignore. It goes on like this. A grownup brings up a naughty / not-eating child nearby and points and refers to me telling "If you don't behave / eat properly then I will hand you over to this boochandi (apparently a slang for child trafficker)". And unsurprisingly more often than not the child obliges and turns orderly. They further this to asking me to be more 'normal' so that it appeals to the kids. I used to suggest to some of those grownups that the children do not form an opinion themselves and it is generally our coercing that makes them eventually react similarly.

            I used to wonder how much such visual stereotyping creates a pattern in children's minds which they carry on in their lives and tend to form opinions on lot of things thereafter based on their (acquired) idiotic reasoning while examining the visual aspect of things. Hence when I had my baby (we call him Chubbu) I was very clear on two things. One, not to shave just because people suggested that my shaving would make Chubbu more comfortable with me and two, not to impose any appearance based perceptive habits into him. 

             Cut the chase to after 9 months of Chubbu's birth and I was at a cousin's baby shower and family ceremonies are where I am mostly the odd one out off all the people who turn up. Chubbu had come with me for this event as he having already set a precedent of being really comfortable to unfamiliar faces and get along real easily. As expected a lot of folks wanted to have some Chubbu time for themselves and he was shunting from one aunt to another and ended up landing up in the hands of an uncle. For no reason whatsoever he started to cry out loud. I was surprised and hence I took over to pacify him. He was cool in no time and I passed him onto another cousin who was the only respite for me with respect to the beard stuff in that gathering. Chubbu was pretty cool with him as well just as much as he was with other women folks.  

             It has been so far so good and then something extraordinary happened. Once again Chubbu was passed on by the round-robin way to that same uncle and he burst out crying instantly and a thought struck to me almost instantly. Just to confirm the premise of my reasoning I passed him onto this cousin of mine again and he was back to playful ways. To prove the point quite convincingly I passed him onto this same uncle again and he started to cry. I was now very clear on this newfound knowledge. Therefore after pacifying him I passed onto to several uncles and he cried almost instantly at the hands of almost every one of those folks.

             It was hence proven without an iota of doubt that Chubbu has developed a resistance and displeasure to be in the company of 'clean shaven' men. Amidst kids who were made to be scared of 'boochandi' here's a baby who was displeased to be in the company of those 'neat and charming' people and not because he was conditioned to but because he chose himself to be so.

இதோ ஒரு விதி தகர்த்தோம்

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