Story by Sourav
The phase of growing up – especially my adolescence, was not as difficult for me as is generally portrayed since the body goes through a lot many hormonal changes. But it was particularly made difficult for me because of the way I was - stocky and effeminate.
Society has set up these weird norms of what's masculine and what's not and I remember not fitting the mould (even now I don't). I had this constant fear of being ridiculed or being called names or being laughed at because of the way I talked or the way I behaved.
Many of my friends thought that perhaps their sense of humour which mostly involved laughing at someone’s expense was cool. Their constant mockery and name-calling felt so caustic at that point. It literally felt like a bad dream that I had to live everyday. And let me tell you that my teachers were no better, perpetuating warped gender roles of how a boy can’t cry, should not have friends of the opposite gender, should actively participate in sports, etc.
All this made me really question my worth, my sheer inability to speak up in my defense and do something about it. Even my ‘friends’ did not budge away from emulating the way I walked or caution me to act boyish. I remember someone asking me very seriously in the middle of the class, “Sourav tu hijra hain kya ?“(Sourav are you an eunuch?) and the entire group started giggling. I could do nothing but scoff at them.
I also remember cussing just so I could look man enough. Hence the moment school got over I just wanted to run away. Run away from my school and the city that had given me nothing but heartache and constant misery - not for something that I had committed but for just being who I was. And boy I ran.
Now that I look back at those days I seriously laugh. All of their criticism did ultimately act as a push to be a better version of myself, but at what cost?
I still obsess over my weight and for a better year I had starved myself just to stay thin. I still cannot look at myself in videos without constantly picking out faults in my mind. I still have anxiety meeting a group of new people because of how I will be perceived. I still fear that in a room full of guys I will be mocked or laughed at and I would not be able to stand up for myself.
I still find my worth from someone else’s validation. I never showed up to my zilch school reunions. This is not who I had intended to become, but their actions made me to be.
But I would surely like to say at the risk of being didactic, that I do have power over them. I am more confident, thick skinned and headstrong than I was in my teens. At times, however, I try to rationalize that we all were kids and stuff but honestly the withering insults that I had been put through makes those thoughts disappear.
Thus, this is not a very inspirational story where everything is hunky dory and you go back to amicable terms and I hope that it gets better than this for someone else who has had to go through this ordeal.
Rephrasing the goddess Cristina Yang “I do not wish them well. “