Updated: Sep 23, 2020
In the year 2000, I was diagnosed with Tuberculosis in my small intestine - a rare medical condition. I was in ICU on a ventilator for 2 and a half days, after my first surgery, which lasted for around 7 hours. I weighed 16 kgs, which was so less that the doctors couldn’t stitch up my stomach post-surgery, as there was no skin to hold. It took me 1 year and 9 months to come out from the ICU. Between 2000 and 2013, I underwent 13 surgeries for various reasons.
When I was fighting for my life and my family with their schedule to take care of me, my body had been covered with surgery marks and the societal pressures of “who'll marry her now" had already begun to build up.
Growing up, I became a very rebellious person. Breaking rules and stigmas gave me satisfaction. As a child, I had lost my dog whom I dearly loved. So on my 29th birthday, I decided to gift myself a tattoo of that dog on my arms without asking my parents about it. And I hid it for 10 months until my mother finally saw it one day.
As I grew up, the pressure to get me married intensified, so my parents began making me meet some guys. It was as if they were ready to get me married to anyone, irrespective of how older the guy might be from me or how uneducated he might be. My surgery scars were all they could see. The whole process made me feel so unwanted and angry.
My parents were hell-bent to get me married, but I introspected. One question that struck me was who would have to face the repercussions of their decisions. The answer was I - whatever they said or did, it would always be me who would have to live with the result. That’s when I decided to take charge of my own life and move out of the house because it was my life at the end of the day.
I began working on my personality and my self-confidence. I would stand in front of the mirror and tell myself that I was amazing and a good human. Since there was no one else doing that to me, I did that to my own self and that was very empowering. I began focusing on my health and began exercising on a daily basis. And the changes began to show, I was becoming a better person.
With so many scars on my body, wearing dresses of my choice - the indian dresses and any other kind was difficult. But asking the right questions helped. For instance, when my mom expressed her disagreement about me wearing a dress by saying that these dresses will laugh on me one day. I felt a lot of sadness and anger but I just asked her a single question, I asked her if she wasn’t happy that I was wearing these dresses. To which she didn’t have an answer.
This is why I believe in the power of questioning, not with arrogance but with the ones that make them rethink their words. Once a person told me that I wasn’t beautiful. I asked him how was it helping him if I was not beautiful. I do have scars on my stomach from the innumerable surgeries I underwent, but I don’t have many options but to accept them. I can not choose to not have my stomach and I have chosen to embrace it.
As I began thinking less and less about people’s opinions, they stopped mattering to me. One day I decided to shave my head just out of the blue and go bald. I got a mixture of good, bad, and ugly comments from people. I also got a call from my parents, who accused me of doing things that maligned their reputation in society. They said how difficult it was to answer everyone about how I was. But, I decided to not take it very personally.
It’s weird how some people call me bold for just being able to shave of my hair. Maybe, it's just because I can listen and still move on without being impacted by people’s opinion.
At first, I use to feel bad about my situation but now I have realised I am stronger because of what I went through. I love to challenge stereotypes - such as getting bald; my personality is not because of my hair, colour, caste, or creed but what I am within. Also, everyone has some of the other problems but I think it’s important to put yourself in the center of the situation and to ask the right question.