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To The Boy Who Called Me “Chinki”: I Hope You’ll Grow Up To Be A Better Man

By Lina Anal Poumai:

Facebook image_Racism against north-east IndiansEvery day I walk to the bus-stop and take an auto-rickshaw to the metro station from there. This takes about 10 minutes. Then the metro ride to Vishwavidyalaya takes another 25 minutes and then another auto-ride to the college that takes, what, 5 minutes? All this, if there is no traffic.

It is quite a task, especially when repeated almost every morning. But one gets accustomed to things when one keeps doing them without really getting used to them.

It was a Tuesday morning when I was secretly raving about how good the weather was, walking the streets of RK Puram with a poker-face on and pretending to ignore the world around me: the cars, the dogs, the parents and their children and the young boys and girls walking to school in the morning.

Could anyone have guessed the effort I put in the morning to apply my gel eyeliner by just looking at me?

With one glance at me could anyone have guessed what a hearty meal I had the previous night? The excitement I feel when my father gets pork meat home and how I do not let my mother come near it so that I can cook it with bamboo shoot, chillies, and potatoes, everything drowning in the pork fat? All that and the chillies! A good dinner is always a good end to a day, and a good dinner is pork and bamboo shoot, and then there are potatoes too and yes, the chillies.
Could anyone know just with a glance?

With one look at me could anyone have known about the torch that has been lit in my heart for somebody and the fire that has been set on the other side too? And though it has only been a couple of months it is the freshest part of me. And though it has already been a couple of months it still is the freshest part of me.
With one glance at me, could anyone have known?

Look at me and tell me, could you have known all the pain I endured to reach this moment of my life, to sit here and be able to write, to stand here and be able to talk, to lay here and be able to sing? I have lived to see this day today, to see you today. I lived to this day.
Could you have guessed?

All my cries, sufferings, laughter, joys, memories and even those that I don’t remember anymore: The stories I could tell my children and then their children; stories I could tell my friends and stories I could tell someone who needs it more than I do. Could you have fathomed the stories that breathe in me? Could you have guessed what my stories would be like? With just one look at me?

The answer is known. The answer is no.

Walking the streets of RK Puram, raving about how pleasant the morning is, ignoring the world around me, a child screams, “Chinki!” and he laughs.

His friends laugh.

Instantly, my life and my stories, all become worth nothing.
I just became a face with no past whatsoever, only a face that was moulded differently, shaped differently from ‘you’, painted differently from ‘you’.
Only my face remains.
My entire existence brought down to the only one truth of my life that you can see: my face.

Did that make that boy’s day?
“Chinki” and you laughed, you all laughed.

What was the joke I wonder, the very word ‘Chinki’?
The word is cringe-worthy to me.
I can never bring myself to say it loudly, and it is a word I associate with shame.
Is that not how it is?
But for that boy, it wasn’t. He said it proudly, bravely, tauntingly.
You laugh, you all laugh.
I have eyes that are shaped differently from yours, and perhaps I am different from you but is that a weapon for you to use against me? Perhaps you are different from me too but have I ever used that against you?
To me, you were just a boy, a child going to school in this lovely part of the city on this lovely morning and I swear I had no intention to hurt you. I swear I still have no intention to hurt you.
I pray that you’ll grow up to be a good man who doesn’t mock people for being different; who’ll learn kindness and tolerance.
Who will be accepting of all humanity: for humans are real and so is humanity, for there is no superior race, as hard it is to believe it, I hope you’ll come to believe it.
I hope you’ll grow up to be a man who will make humanity proud and himself proud for the good man you have turned out to be.
I hope there will be no more “chinki” and no more name calling.
I hope there will be no more mockery and prejudice.
I hope you’ll be kind, sensitive and sensible.
I hope you’ll get real.

You must be to comment.

    I get offended at someone calling me a Bong. Can we please start a movement?


    I get offended when someone calls me a Bong. Can we please start a movement?

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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