THIS IS NOT A WOMAN’S DAY SPECIAL!

Upalparna Dey
Posted March 16, 2021 from India
Be the woman you are meant to be

I was born a human about 46 years back. My parents had no qualms about my gender. Some family members did as we were a family dominated by the girl child but dad simply whiffed them off. They were celebrating my worth as a human. They aimed to raise me as a true human and I pray everyday that their wish comes true even if they are in their heavenly abode.

When I was 6 years old, someone from my family touched me. He hushed up the incident and I was too young to understand that there is a demarcation between being just a human and being a woman. My parents and teachers in school were trying to figure out the reasons why I was losing concentration in my studies. For the next two years another family member continued abusing me (between 7-9 years) during his occasional visits in our house.

I have spoken about my abuse many times, written, spoken about it on public platforms but I could not ever let go of those moments that caused so much damage to me, physically and mentally. By the time I started my cycle, I was having distorted ideas about my body because there was no outlet or counselling for my internal trauma.

No matter how much I had risen from those ashes and picked up my arms to hit out for any social menace, it had become impossible to let go of it. With time I gradually taught myself to accept that, love my body, however it is, and rise above the abuse. I believed in myself, learning to trust the fact that I was rising above the challenges.

I grew up with the honest principals instilled in me and took the courage to speak about the challenges women in general are subjected to. I took charge of ensuring that women, including myself to rise beyond the shame and look past the negativity we all go through at some point in life. With time, I started sharing my experiences either through writing or public speaking and counselling many other women like me who faced deeper hardships in life. With help from my peers, I learned to overlook the shame which I was no longer ashamed of, and cherish what I was within as a human.

Till the time someone touched some my body, which was not even properly developed, I was bought up by two amazing human beings, my parents, who never made me feel that there is any difference between being a girl and a boy. My teachers in school had a farsight about how to enhance the human mind and later in life I realized their guidance and inspiration always work wonders to instill self believe and trust in myself.

Till someone hit and abused me for being his woman, I never felt the difference between the genders. For being married, for being a daughter in law and for not being a biological mother – the list never ended - I was always made to feel all the difference because of my gender. If at all there were actually any differences! The difference was simply and just socially made by humans – taboos served on an artificial platter of inflated egos and the sense of inferiority!

With time, I realized how the taboos were filling up my platter. Though I did understand all of them, I ignored to touch them and tried my best to keep others away from them too.

I was bought up in a liberal ambience with much to learn from. My male friends, who belonged to a neighboring school used to come over to my house to chat up with my father and gorge on the delicacies my mother made. My parents were very excited when I joined the Leadership Training Service in school under the mentorship of a teacher who may have realized that I was abused physically as a child.

Joining LTS enabled me to hone my skills and improve my concentration level. Though I remained an average student all through, my parents or friends never belittled me due to that. Neither that did not act as a hindrance for me to move ahead. I completed my post graduation in Mass Communications and started my professional journey after my marriage. I continued my passion for writing, public speaking, photography with the constant support of my parents and peers. We all face our shit in our way. The hurdles - with each experience, is a learning experience which we need to overcome and accept.

A woman might seem vulnerable when her circumstances are challenging or when she is facing a personal, professional and financial turmoil and the flesh may seem to come for free, but it doesn’t always work that way. It is integral to hold onto our beliefs, no matter what!

I didn’t feel till then that if I married the man of my choice, I would have to fight for my identity and my space. I didn’t feel till then that I was any different from a boy. My parents never told me or taught me that. Even if I feel all this today at the helm of 46, I am proud of who I am.

I refuse to be judged on the basis of my looks or my relationship status or my financial limitations and do not encourage anyone including women who stick onto social taboos that are often a part of our dual faced society! 

I have some grey matter, I hope! I certainly love learning everyday from my workplace, from my seniors. I look upon them and derive the inspiration to be a better human being everyday. I may smoke and drink occasionally but that makes me no different from a man who has probably been bought up the same way I was. I love to travel, take pictures, I love my pets. I enjoy talking to people from any part of the world, for heaven’s sake, I am a human and a woman who has created her own space for respect. My liberal upbringing doesn't make me available for anybody and everybody, anytime.

I am more than a pound of flesh, as a human, a woman, I have an identity. We all do. Even a woman who’s in the flesh business is – she’s doing her job. She deserves some respect. Our social taboos have already crippled us. Definitely when the respect of a woman is torn off, the man who rapes her has a distorted thinking pattern. Before punishing the men, it is important to teach them to walk the right path. To ensure every child has a healthy upbringing. The cycle of growth in our society moves in a zig-zag pattern, where gender disparity plays a pivot role for the challenges women face in their daily life. It is beyond high time to encourage gender equality and address the challenges of gender differences that has spread like a global pandemic in today’s world.

Over the last year when COVID took the better of our lives, huge numbers of girl child has been forced to step back from the education they were receiving due to various reasons. We have to encourage education no matter how and contribute in our own way to erase the differences. We need to enable women to empower themselves so that they can freely contribute to the changes in the global scenario. It is important and a significant aspect to enable women to respect themselves so that they never face the inequalities, injustices and disparities which many face today. 

This is not a woman’s day special article. This is a human day special. Whatever we go through, we have to go on. The hardships teach us lessons, and we learn from them and move on.  

 

This story was submitted in response to #HerStoryMakesHistory.

Comments 21

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Tamarack Verrall
Mar 16
Mar 16

Dear Upalparna,

This is brilliant, and I love your photo. As I read I felt as if I was in the same room listening to you, and t the same time that you were speaking to a huge audience who were inspired by your whole story, following your train of thought, understanding that it is possible to counteract all the soul-destructive violence with trust in ourselves and each other.
These words "taboos served on an artificial platter of inflated egos and the sense of inferiority!" and "I am a human and a woman who has created her own space for respect". You have survived so much. What a celebration to know more about you and to have you here with us.

Upalparna Dey
Mar 16
Mar 16

Dear Tamarack,

Deeply humbled and obliged by your words of appreciation. I look forward to a day when I can actually encourage other women to come out of the veil and raise their voice. I have still a long way to go, but one step itself makes a lot of difference. Your support means a lot to me. Big hugs your way

Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi

Dear Upalparna,
Thank you so much for sharing this amazing story. It takes courage to share what you have shared and this is part of your healing journey. Am glad that you have taken us on this journey with you. May you continue to reach out and inspire many more girls and women. It is so sad that those who commit these acts are the ones we trust the most. May God continue to bless you so that you reach out and impact many more.

Have a blessed day and looking forward to many more of your posts. I also liked your photo.

Upalparna Dey
Mar 17
Mar 17

My dear friend Anita, thank you so much for your kind words. I am trying my best to give a voice to so many women around the globe, who are still unable to raise their voice. It's a humble attempt and I am with you all in this fight for empowering women in all ways possible. Grateful for your support, hugs from India.

KaitlynMcC
Mar 17
Mar 17

Thank you for sharing your powerful, heartfelt, strong story. It is so eloquently told and I so appreciate the way you freely share so much of yourself and your experience.

Upalparna Dey
Mar 17
Mar 17

Dear Kaitlyn,

Thank you so so much for your words of support and encouragement. I was often told that I should not speak about all the abuse women face including myself because I will not be looked upon with good eyes and damned in the society. I always said Damn to them, dared to rise irrespective of the fears I had, and stood up for what was wrong. It's time people realize that women can contribute equally to the changing dynamics of the world. It's time women who are still in fear speak up, raise their voice and take a step towards getting their due respect.

Reigneth
Mar 17
Mar 17

Truly hardship teach us a lesson and we learn from it and move on. Thanks for sharing your personal experience Upalparna. Together we shall change the things that need to be changed

Upalparna Dey
Mar 17
Mar 17

Hardships teach us a lesson and yes, it gives us courage to move on. But we still have a long way to go to enable women to raise their voice and take one step at a time to get their due respect in the society.

Renu Paswan
Mar 19
Mar 19

You are strong woman who showed up her life journey , the serviving legend❤

Upalparna Dey
Mar 19
Mar 19

Thank you so much, it really means a lot

Renu Paswan
Mar 19
Mar 19

The surviving legend❤

Upalparna Dey
Mar 26
Mar 26

Survival is a necessity and giving up is a matter of comfort, I feel it is important for women across to act on her priorities and move ahead. Thank you again Renu

Aparna Sanjay
Mar 19
Mar 19

Upalparna,
As I was reading your article, it almost seemed as though I could hear you talk with so much passion about what you have been through, and what you have achieved. I particularly liked what you said at the end "This is a human day special". Indeed!
Also, intrigued by your name (last few letters same as mine:)) Is it a typical Bengali name and what does it mean?

Upalparna Dey
Mar 26
Mar 26

Hello Aparna, and greetings...thank you so much for your words of appreciation and support. That is exactly what women ought to do, empower one another. I am very vocal about my experience and that of other women I know, I feel it is not only a necassity but also a priority to voice out our experiences and lessons, as it is one step ahead to empowering ourselves. The social taboos such as girls should not talk about their abuse or bad experiences as they will be considered outcasts is something I have gatecrashed on, no matter what the circumstances are. Break the glass ceiling, choose to challenge and be humans. I was raised as a human so my DNA does not allow me to be behind veils and being chained because of my gender. I am up all arms for any support and voice that needs to be raised for empowering women and girl children. Thanks again, glad to have crossed paths.

Upalparna Dey
Mar 26
Mar 26

Aparna, yes we do have similarities in our names and I am sure as humans we connect somewhere. My name am not sure whether it is a typically Bengali one, but it means pebbles / precious stones (from Opal comes Upal) strewn like petal leaves (Parna means strewn leaves). I am severely passionate about the edgy mountains and hills and I inherited the same from my father, who teamed up with my paternal uncle to Christine me with this name. What does your name mean?

Aparna Sanjay
Mar 26
Mar 26

What a great meaning. Aparna is goddess parvati's name. I believe it refers to the intense fasts she did when she was praying to marry Shiva and the literal meaning is "She who eats shoots, leaves etc"

Nini Mappo
Mar 21
Mar 21

Dear Upalparna,
What a sorrowful but at the same time beautiful account of life. I see all the bad people and see all the good ones. I see the influence of the good ones overpowered the intentions of the bad ones. I see that you shook of the chains of abuse and discrimination. Perhaps you are still shaking them off today. We all are, each in their own way. I love the compassion you share with yourself and extend to us, to humanity.

I am sorry about all the traumatic experiences you went through.

I am encouraged by all the people that held your hand, and continue to walk this life, human to human, with you. You are an overcomer. Do continue inspiring, encouraging, and helping others heal through your art.
With love, respect, and appreciation.
Nini

Upalparna Dey
Mar 26
Mar 26

Dear Nini, my friend ... Thank you so so much for your words. No matter what we go through no matter how bad the experiences are, I am uptight about not giving in and feeling sorry about myself. I have worked on many mental health issues and personally belief that it is our society who makes us feel sorry about what we go through. No, we are not sorry for ourselves. We never should be cast by the spells of self pity. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for relating to my story and that of many other women who go through worse and are survivors in their own right. I am blessed to have friends globally who have walked the tight rope with me and I strongly feel that our bonding will see us through the turmoil's and we will evolve from the worse. Kind regards, much love and respect, be blessed.

charlenegailtaruwona

Dear Upalparna,
Thank you for sharing with the world your lovely story and your experiences. This makes many of us readers relate with you and share with you in the pain that you have managed to overcome and become the great woman you are today. May you keep making an impact.

Upalparna Dey
Mar 26
Mar 26

Dear Charlene ... I hope I got your name correct. Thank you so much for your support and again I feel each story shared is one more hand extended towards empowering each other for days to come. Together we are stronger and with one more raised voice, we evolve and grow and take at least one step ahead. Kind regards and gratitude.