THIS IS NOT A WOMAN’S DAY SPECIAL!

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.

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!

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.

Whatever we go through, we have to go on. The hardships teach us lessons, and we learn from them and move on.

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Writer, Communicator, Life Coach

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Upalparna Dey

Upalparna Dey

Writer, Communicator, Life Coach

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