No, this is not a poem. Interestingly enough, I tried writing a poem on it, but couldn’t get the words right. I have a theory. I believe that I can write a poem on anything that I’m strong enough to fight and overcome. Unfortunately, I’m not, in this case.
I was in class 5, when I got my first period. I thought then that it was one. It didn’t pain, it was just blood. I was pretty much aware of menstruation, so I didn’t panic. I went into the clinic room of my school and the nurse there guided me on how to put it on. There was a continuous pain in my lower abdomen, but I thought that was normal. The blood discharge was dry and low, but I didn’t bother. That was it. For another two years, I didn’t have my periods again.
I remember talking to the school nurse and my mum about how I felt that there was something hard in my vagina. At first, I thought it was supposed to be there. To clear out my confusion I asked my sister. She informed me that it wasn’t. It was then when that my mom and I visited a doctor. After she examined me, she told me that it was fungus and I had a rare infection. What next? Medications, creams and all sorts of ‘ghar ke tareeke’ (ways of the home) to make my pain go away. It didn’t. Eventually, I learned to live with it.
In class 11, I was dating a guy. He was more of a best friend.
Anyhow, as things were getting pretty serious, I gathered the courage to tell him about my infection and how I cannot have penetrative sex. He was quite supportive and agreed. This time, I started having what I remember as heart-wrenching pain.
I wanted to die right at that moment. I went inside the loo to check, only to find myself bleeding and something inside, hurting me. It felt as if there was a needle inside. With all my courage, I managed to put my hand inside, only to find a rusted and corroded silver ring. Death and horror flashed before my eyes. I fainted then and there.
My boyfriend was there with me. He picked me and as I regained consciousness, I started crying and told him everything. He cried more than me.
I don’t remember how that got in. My worst realisation was not the tarnished silver, but its insertion. I was molested a lot when I was a kid. The more I think, the more I remember about the horrific time and I know at the back of my mind, I know all of it, but can’t really unlock that box. Maybe, I’m not ready to feel all of it.
It was then I realised that the blood was not menstrual discharge. It was my pain.
Damaged as it was,
Deluded my mind,
A rusted ring,
Of my kind,
Pain and blood,
Anxiety and mud,
Inside the walls of my vagina
Was a tarnished silver.
Who put it there?
When was this dread?
The fear in red,
My hands shiver
As I recall
The deadly time
The picture that was real
My vandalised vulva
My ruined childhood
My gruesome past
If you are a survivor, parent or guardian who wants to seek help for child sexual abuse, or know someone who might, you can dial 1098 for CHILDLINE (a 24-hour national helpline) or email them at [email protected] You can also call NGO Arpan on their helpline 091-98190-86444, for counselling support.