I grew up surrounded by love. Doted on by Dida and Dadu (my maternal grandparents), with Choto Mashi (younger maternal aunt), stitching clothes for my dolls; and the two of us eating chaat together in the evenings. Life was very, very good.
Both Ma and Baba (my parents) were working, but I didn’t feel short-changed in any way. Ma packed the most delicious lunches, while Baba would be busy helping her; and reading a story to me. It was a good childhood, a happy childhood; which I wish had continued just a little longer.
An Uncle, had arrived in town. Well-dressed, personable, the smell of his cigarettes (Baba or Dadu didn’t smoke), were all new smells in my Universe. I was a little dazzled, but scared as well. There was something about the man who attracted and repelled me at the same time. The family really loved him, and with time, I learned to listen to those signals and ignore my inner radar. Especially as Uncle loved me so much. Especially when we visited his house. Ma would be busy catching up with his wife, and I would be the centre of his attention. He loved holding me close, even though I was very uncomfortable with it. He told me that it was perfectly fine for me to feel this way; that it was a hidden sense of excitement, rather than unease. The touching got progressively more and more intimate, until one day that I felt so invaded; that I finally protested. Loudly and in pain. He backed off, and I made sure that I was never alone around him.
It took me years to muster up enough courage to share this with my mother. She was heartbroken and kept blaming herself for not spotting the signs.
Was that all? Not really. Because Uncle helped me to grow up hating my own body. I hated looking at my reflection (till date, I cannot really look at my naked reflection). I grew up surrounded by boys, acting like one. Until I hit puberty. My hormones kicked in, and instead of enjoying the heady rush, I hated myself. No, I did not inflict any injuries to my own body. Not physical injuries anyway. Instead, a different route looked so much more appealing! That of being loved and appreciated by the opposite sex.
I was not a serial dater, but I have met a lot of interesting men in my life. Some of them continue being friends, while others…choose to remember just one aspect of our relationships. Was I abusing my own self while I was with these men? I don’t know, and can’t answer this one. Was it instead an attempt to like and love my own body? No clue, and over analysis just leaves me tired!
All I know is, that for years I have hated my body. Wearing baggy, ill-fitting clothes that would cover me from head-to-toe, doubting the love and affection from friends as it didn’t feel like I really deserved it, even questioning my mother’s unquestionable love and friendship. I didn’t think I deserved any of it. I still have those doubts, where an unanswered phone call opens up a chain of possibilities in my head…
The possibilities stay just a while…until I move onto my plants. Until I start gardening and tilling the soil. Seeing the new shoots coming up from seeds that I have nurtured with joy. Watching the bare Earth turn into a beautiful green landscape in a few months. Working and being with nature has helped me find a measure of peace, acceptance and belief.
Time heals, nature though does it better. And quicker.
Just wish I had stumbled onto this a little earlier…
This is a Guest post written for a campaign on my blog for creating an awareness on how much we put others or ourselves down on physical aspects, personality traits, financial status, perceived notions and mindsets conditioned by years of nonsensical vagaries.
Popularly called Body/Slut shaming, its gripping us all in epic proportions on a psychological levels and creating havoc in the minds of the young women and men who are more susceptible to peer pressure or should I say “Peer pleasure” ?
Look forward to seeing my readers reaction to this and many more to come!