My mom and I share stories of pain, hurt, lessons learned every single day. That is how we make up for the lost time with each other. With every story there is a long pause, a sigh of relief and a line of closure where one of us says, “why me”, or “I am a better person because it happened to me”. Once in a while we applaud each other saying, “glad you did not do anything”, as in contemplating suicide or any act of regret. Each day for us therefore, gives a new reason to live and love those who have invested in us. Because we are strong, it is often assumed that no matter what happens or happened or what anyone says it is perfectly acceptable. It is not.
Up until I was 10 years old, I was engrossed in competing with myself – I am an only child. But one day at 11, when I was accused of being coy, I knew I had to safe guard my integrity. Being a chump to eve-teasing, coming home after school with puckered lips because I’ve been slapped on my der·ri·ère really hard in the dark, or when someone smeared each and every wall of the houses in the community with “Appu, I love you” which made my dad hang his head in shame for months didn’t make me strong or being a tomboy having boys as friends thinking I’d be safer do any good. The tears that welled up my eyes because I had no clue who was targeting me, the glances at my rather older parents who’d be devastated if I did something socially wrong or that girl who I call my best friend would miss calling me 10 times a day made me look away from every single thing that almost took me down the path of no return.
After such incidents, I would go into a shell for months. It would feel trapped and suffocated. It was a suffering that I’d not wish on anyone. My mother, a psychologist herself would blame the hormones of a tween. From where I come from, such ‘behavior’ was rather unacceptable then and unacceptable now. Since, I always thought such heinous acts would stop. But they did not and they won’t. They became even more categorical such as physical, verbal, social and cyber and who knows what else is to evolve.
We would think physical bullying is the worst kind and Cyber is just over the internet. But it is quite the opposite. Verbal and social abuse are more prevalent than we think. I’d go to a party and someone I’d know would make a nasty comment about how ill my dressing sense is or how incompatible I look next to my husband and the result being our situation without kids of our own. So much so that someone recently told me not to write poetry for every damn insult (which they didn’t think they were doing) that came out of their mouth. Despite being vocal, that day, I fell short of words and I avoid that person like plague. My heart goes out to the kids and adults who find themselves in hapless situations like these and perhaps even more miserable.
In the process of getting arranged to be married, I got myself through agony not from the process itself but from the comments that came from near and dear. After my dad’s demise, out of pity I thought my mom and I’d be spared from spewing of venom from a relative, but luck was not on our side. Time and again, we get reminded that strong people are prime targets because those persecuting would feel a sense of triumph. Not just personal life, even otherwise on pretext of providing constructive feedback, people resort to verbal and social bullying.
For the last 5 years, I have learned to not ignore signs or acts of bullying, learned to be sensitive to those who are struggling to fight their inner beasts and learned to give care to those dear to my heart who are going through a lot. It is very easy to say hurtful words and then say sorry. But it is very hard to reverse the neurological, psychological and chemical reactions that are triggered on account of those very same words. It is very easy to exhibit superiority over someone meek but impossible to recover a crushed soul. It is very easy to play nasty jokes or spread rumors or socially exclude but arduous to bring back to normalcy a bruised mind.