By Shalini Ghosh:
20 years ago while handing me over to my mom for the first time, the doctors confirmed I was a girl. I totally believed in my birth certificate when I read it.
But gradually as I grew up, I realized that there are different categories here as well – the girly one, the tomboyish one and then, of course, there’s the “badchalan” types. First, it was the race between over a million sperms that I had to win, then abide by the decision of those random sets of chromosomes picked under god-knows-what Darwinian calculations, and now you tell me that the whole grind isn’t over yet?
To make it worse, this time, there were no defined rules for the categories. Probably it was because of the cropped hairstyle I had, or the instinct to fight, I don’t know, but I was gradually tagged as boyish. All this while, they said I was a girl, and I thought nothing could change my femininity. And, now I wasn’t feminine enough?
Without much of a fuss, I wore the tag pretty well and, lived up to its many glories. Sweatshirts and tracks were my favourites, bunking school and playing cricket all day long was bliss. Being surrounded by only guys I grew up to talk, walk and think like them.
They say time and age solve everything and life becomes clearer.
And puberty is the first step of growing up.
In my case though, growing up did not quite have the benefits I had anticipated. Instead, it created an ever-widening rift between my friends and me. And all I could do was feel more and more like an outsider. I couldn’t relate myself to any of them anymore. The hormones, the emotions – nothing was similar.
So now suddenly, I was brought back to where I had started – being a girl. My friends remained the same, the way I spoke to them was the same, but our bodies were visibly different, and the way we were treated was vastly different. We did not fight anymore because apparently boys are prohibited to hit girls. This made things easier for me, but at the same time, other things became so much more complex. As though the boys could go on living as they had while I was shackled into playing a role befitting a girl. Fighting so many changes and coping with the ones I had no control over, I was soon tagged to be a “girl who only hangs out with the guys”. And that was bad news.
Somehow, everyone expects the two sexes to exist as absolutes; without interfering with the other. It’s like some treasure that must be guarded carefully.
I just became a misfit among the people I had grown up with. After all those years of friendship, it was like starting all over again. This time though, I did not have to be like them, but be what they like!
It’s like a tournament. Each and every moment you would be judged by how good you look, which guy you like and most importantly which one of them likes you.
After all these years of playing with them, now all of a sudden you had to play for them. It used to be a competition for who could get away from mom without taking showers for days, and now suddenly you judge me by how well I dress up to be likeable enough?
Hell, you would never like someone after you knew they don’t shower for weeks! You would not even want to sit beside them the next day!
What now? You want me to have girlfriends? Mingle with the ones whom, years earlier you said weren’t my type? What do you want next? Graduate from school, and be married off?
Well no matter what puberty did, my age and maturity gave me the ability to think by myself – a luxury that some people missed.
The concepts were very clear now. To survive, I needed food, water, clothes and shelter. The type of food I eat or the clothes I wear are completely my choices. I have enough faith in me that I am not going to let myself starve to death, neither will I marry to feed myself. Yes, I need people around me to survive but, then again that is something I decide. I was a girl 20 years ago, and I will be one forever. No matter what happens, nothing can change that. I can do whatever any other person can. It’s only a matter of individual choice.
A simple rule of physics states that substance should have matter to make an impact, and what people think doesn’t fall into that category.
One of my simple rules says: “Things become only as complicated as we want them to be.”