Shelter

Rebel in Rise
Posted April 2, 2020 from India

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She says her mother told her none of her relatives wanted her, a girl.

I heard from my mother, she wanted a girl but she delivered me, a boy.

Clothes and toys for a boy were bought and arranged in her house. She was born in home. When she was born, nobody was happy, nobody cared. Everybody abandoned the newborn and the mother.        

My mother finished sewing a woolen frock for the new baby girl she wanted.  Almost struggling past a complicated delivery she gave me birth. I was born in the month of October.  

After her birth her mother cried holding the baby girl onto her chest. She was dark skinned unlike her sister. Her aunts, her uncles, grandfather, and grandmother no one held her. Nobody loved her. She and her mother were alone.

One year after my birth my mother dressed me with the woolen frock as she could not have simply thrown the frock made with all her affection. Whenever we see the album, taking a pause on that particular picture my mother always recollects, how she expected her second child to be a girl while I see myself in the album holding a toy, dressed in a black and purple check woolen frock.

While growing up she became silent. She became the undemanding child. After three years her brother was born and suddenly everybody changed. The hatred changed into love, the unloving ones became the affectionate one. She herself turned from- an extra burden, a second girl child- to a lucky charm that opened the door for a boy. In her childhood she was everything but a child.

 My mother said whenever there was music my legs would never be standstill even when I was barely one year old. My mother would never restrict me from playing whatever I wanted even if it’s kitchen-set or doll. I used to wear frocks until my first year in school. Up to this my childhood seemed like an impossible dream lived happily.

She studied in school with boys. She remained silent like before and excelled the class by holding the first position every year. The boys in the class were jealous of her; they passed comment on her, made fun of her, troubled her. Sometimes she used to be upset, sometimes she cried but she never said anything to anyone .The world is not hers she realized.

With age I realized, my father’s family did not like my mother and me. I remember my mother sleeping in the ground when all of us would sleep in bed when we used to go to father’s place in holidays. They wanted my mother to stop teaching, leave her job and sit back in the home. And somewhere during my second year of nursery school we stopped going to my father’s place.

When she was twelve or thirteen she found blood in between her thighs. She was scared, she cried but her mother hushed putting hands on her mouth and scolded her to silence. She was asked not to tell this to anyone. She stopped roaming and riding cycles with her younger brother from that day onwards.

When I was probably in standard fourth or fifth unlike my mother everybody else disliked my friendship with dolls. Everybody mocked the way I talked and the way I walked. Once in the class one of my teachers demonstrated my gait and the whole class laughed .Some of my relatives asked when I would become a boy. I loved dancing (which I still do). Everybody said I dance well but the only problem is I do not dance like a boy. Some where I knew I have something undesirable which needs to be hidden. So I started trying to become a boy but whenever I would be alone I would play either with dolls or the game “harry potter- harry potter” in which without a mistake I would chose to play the character Hermione Granger.

She liked painting (she still does).whenever she would get time she would paint- a woman sitting on a swing looking at the sky, a woman walking towards the hill, a girl running towards the forests. All of her paintings would be of rear view. Everybody would ask her, “Why don’t you paint from the front side”. She always replied with her silence. She admired one of the senior boys in high school, who used to paint well. She thought the boy who also painted would understand the loneliness behind her paintings. Once she went to show her paintings to the boy, it was a sports period and in that empty class room the boy pulled her towards him and tried to kiss her and put his hands on her chest. She came home with disbelief and disgust. She cried. That night she painted a woman with a face.

At least once in a day I use to hear conversations about who liked whom, who fell in love with whom. High school romances were exciting for everyone. But I never enjoyed the conversations around the best looking girls in the school that used to happen amongst the boys but I pretended like I did. I knew I don’t like girls but I tried falling in love with a girl as I was trying hard to behave like a boy as per the instructions and I succeeded to great extent. Meanwhile I became lonelier I was craving for someone or may be a lover. I had a cousin brother who was in his late twenties when I was in eighth standard. One afternoon during summer vacation when everybody went to some relative’s place he called me to the terrace and shoved his penis inside mouth. He asked, “Do you like this” and I said yes even though I knew I did not. After he went down, I ran to the bathroom and vomited. But that was not the only time I vomited, it happened many times after but I never complained to anyone, I don’t know why! May be that’s how I understood love. I started writing poetries.

We both understood pain and performance.

Her sister who was half burnt after recovery of her health went straight back to her in-laws’ from the medical. She found the letter of her high school friend and the letter read, “Sir touch me wherever on my body you want, but I need hundred out of hundred in mathematics.”

After nine years of absence, my father came and asked my mother to quit her job and to return.my mother never left the job. However,she decided to go back.

We both found new meaning to the words pain and performance and discovered a new word compromise.

We both entered university. We both gave in to the flow. Both of us were desperate.

We both thought we fell in love.

We both thought that was love.

She was publicly humiliated, slapped but she thought its love. She stayed.

I thought that was perfect. I sticked to the tag that I only knew of,that is "gay".I  felt trapped while my stay.

 

 She was raped by the man who she thought loves her more than her body.

 

I realized I can never be the man that my lover loved.I crushed the heart of the man I thought I loved.

She was shattered.

I was disconnected.

It’s her gender - degraded,devalued.

It’s my gender - unacceptable, unrecognized.

We met each other. We became friends. Gradually she resonated with the words inside me, same did I with the colors that she contained. Together we read the poetries of Taylor Johnson and June Jordan and saw the paintings of Judy Chicago and Adrian Piper. 

Even though we knew, we won’t be together forever, but for that brief moment we decided to be allies to each other.

We became shelter to each other.

We chose to rebel.

Because 

We both knew that it’s our bodies through which people will see us.

But we were not, are not, will not be only our bodies.

I used to tell her I m a born woman it’s just that I’m trapped.

She used to tell me I’m not born as women it’s just that I became one.

We both laughed louder and louder.

Comments 6

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Kirthi Jayakumar
Apr 02
Apr 02

What a powerful story! I had chills by the end of it, and my heart was full. Thank you so much for sharing, and for putting such difficult truths with such gentleness and compassion. It was amazing to hear from you!

Rebel in Rise
Apr 03
Apr 03

Thank you for reading

Elly Hawkins
Apr 03
Apr 03

This is such a deep and thought-provoking story. It makes you really re-think about the definition of love and the tough times women go through, even to this day. Thank you for sharing.

Rebel in Rise
Apr 03
Apr 03
Sowmya Swaminathan
Apr 06
Apr 06

Dear Rebel,

I'm still stunned. I have no words to express my gratitude to you for writing this. Thank you for bringing your truth into our world. It is not easy to do this. I'm immensely in awe of your acceptance, courage, compassion and wisdom. Thank you for being who you are!

Love,
Sowmya

Adanna
Apr 22
Apr 22

Dear Rebel,

This is thought provoking.
Thank you for sharing.

Love,
Adanna