Editor’s Note: This month, that is February 2021, FII and The Minor Project are looking for article submissions on the topic of Narrating Violence and Trauma from Childhood to highlight the ways we in our childhoods, experience various forms of brutality from our adults, mentors, peers and even their institutions that may lead to a sustained memory of difficult experiences and mental health issues. The Minor Project is a digital platform for public dialogue to promote discourse on ending violence, abuse and exploitation of children by Leher, a child rights organisation, whose focus is on building communities that care and act for the safety and protection of children. If you’d like to share your article, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Baby, you have always been a man of fewer words. You never expressed your pain but only had too much love for everyone. I don’t know how a small child can contain all his mental and physical pain inside just to not trouble others. You started to do this at a very early stage in your life. At an age when all your siblings would let the whole colony know that they were scratched, you hid a deep wound. Hiding your physical wounds soon developed into letting your worries capture your head and no one else’s. I don’t know how to react to the fact that you don’t share with us, to protect us. Us, who are older than you. You, who is the most mature amongst us all.
You were assaulted outside your school a week ago and I was kept unaware of this until today. I am hurt. I am hurt that you had to go through this. I am hurt that I couldn’t protect you. I am hurt that the world reacted to you in the manner that it did when you were only doing the right thing. You were trying to protect a friend. You were standing up against injustice. You were standing up against sexual harassment.
Also read: Growing Away From Home
We shared the same school for a few years. From carrying an image of a ‘man-of-a-woman’ to completely shutting myself up in the later years, I have experienced enough in that school. I never shared this story of ‘why‘? I will do it today. I was bullied. I was harassed for months. Aside from throwing paper balls at me, calling me names, isolating me by calling me ‘untouchable‘, the whole school had my number on its wall with the reference of blue films and mentioning me as a ‘call girl‘.
I was unaware of what blue films were but aware enough to understand that if a Brahmin woman can be “outcaste” in this school, what was the school teaching these ignorant children after all? Jagran Public School, Lucknow has been a nightmare for me, for the most part of it. I remember all the names of my perpetrators and sadly enough they all still like to stay inside their ignorant imbecile bubble. One of those handfuls of bullies did have some shame to come and apologise to me after months but could only gather the courage to do so in private while shaming me was an everyday incessant public act.
Although I have only seen myself grow and contribute towards a better world, such people continue to exist as a disgrace. The same school has once again implemented its teachings on the few, who continue to only gather the pluses and leave the minuses aside. Today, I remind you that this might be the first time you were thrashed for a stand you took but the world will continue to put you to the ground for the spine you have and the words you speak. You will again be silenced but you must not.
I remember when you were around 10-years of age and masi asked you to take the dish back in the kitchen for our domestic help to clean. You said, “Ask didi to do it, collecting dishes is the task of women.” We were all numb. Where were you getting it from? We didn’t teach you all that. Of course, you are a part of the society and as a result not spared of the societal structures. That day, we sat you down and gave you a piece of mind. That day, you started your journey of learning, unlearning and relearning. Irrespective of what we taught you, I have always been afraid of what you were like outside the house.
Do you whistle when you see a girl? Do you stare at someone continuously and make them uncomfortable and then justify it by saying that “How do they know that you were looking, were they looking at you?” I often thought about how I would react if I was made aware that you do such things. I was scared. While I am completely outraged that you had to go through this experience and deny to acknowledge the upside of the incident, you have taken all my fears away. You have spoken truth and took a principled stand. One piece of advice from your elder sister would be to recognise the difference between a messiah and an ally. We do not want a samaritan to fight our struggles for us but an ally to fight it with us. The difference between ‘for’ and ‘with’ is a major one and I see you developing into my beloved ally.
You never said that you were a feminist. I don’t even know if you believe that you are. Nevertheless, I am going to go on a limb here and say, well, you are one and I am proud of you, my dear comrade.
Featured Image Source: Feminism In India