“When I was 7 years old, I was close to my neighbour who was about the same age as me. He had an elder brother and we often spend time together. I had a very emotionally draining and strange experience as I was physically harassed by him and that went about for three and a half years, once every week. There was a constant fear in me because of which I couldn’t stand up for myself & I have kept this a secret ever since, blocked the memory. Things got better eventually. There were times I’d cry but I didn’t know why I was actually crying and neither did my parents. All I knew was that whatever happened was wrong. It is easier to blame ourselves rather than blaming others. The society has trapped us in a way such that you have an ideology, if what you do is shameful, the tag hangs on to you for the rest of your life. I didn’t see him for a long time until one day when I was 16. I was indifferent towards him, we spoke a little. Never about anything that happened between us. I am certain he remembered but he would not admit it. Some people might believe that standing up for yourself is the sole path to stopping such incidents but that is not always true. When you are in a space where you have a gazillion things to worry about you don’t want to dig up an old grave.
Moving on to the next phase of life, in 6th grade a rumour spread about me being gay. A boy told someone that while he was in the school restroom I tried to take a look at his penis. This barely affected me in the start. However, this rumour grew into a lot of labels, name-calling and uncalled bullying. My mom started noticing I was going through a lot of emotional ordeal but she stood up for me and has always been my pillar. This bullying led to a lot of anger being built inside me. After all, who was going to go shut 120 people’s mouth? After a point it just started affecting me emotionally. That was the time I toughened up. The teasing in my 9th and 10th grade changed into aggression. Not only did I snap back but, I was a bitch to them. Because every time they said something, I revert back with something that would hurt them. What I did not realise in this process was what my vice principal said: “You’re just giving them something to feed on. The moment that you stop reacting to what they say, will change things.” But then again, this is something, I feel, which is extremely wrong. If someone has damaged something of yours then why not make him or her pay for it. This is what I am saying right now, after becoming an adult. However, at that stage when I was fifteen, for me this was a completely another term. Hurting them was not only verbal but also physical. I had a lot of anger-controlling issues back then. I used to get aggressive but not at home, only at school.
I have always had a very close-knit group of friends. I have been a friend to everyone. Apart from the bullying, I was a very fun-loving person. Go to Jamnabai Narsee School right now, go to my ISC foyer, they all remember me. That part of me has remained a constant because that is who I am. If there’s something happening to me emotionally and it may be killing me on the inside but I can’t portray that on the outside because that is just going to be bad for me and the people around me. High school was the best phase of my life. It was a new place, new people and a new beginning. All the pettiness was behind me. However, there was this guy from my previous school who tried to start the same thing here. I held him by the collar and warned him not to mess with me here. ‘This is a new space, a new school. I did not want what has been happening with me since the past four years repeated. You have no idea the mental torment it has put me through. For you it must have just been friendly banter but for me it wasn’t. My parents and I have been through a lot emotionally and I do not want such nonsense here.’ My Dadi always told me that life teaches you the most valuable lessons & that holds absolutely true. Over the period of time, I have become calm & patient. I will never let my past shape my future because that's not who I am. I'm currently in my last year of Architecture & enjoying life to the fullest with the people around me who matter the most along with my 3 dogs and trust me it could’nt get better.”