By Clara Asirvatham:
“Where do you want to go?”
I have always felt the strong urge to go somewhere far away. My name is Clara Asirvatham, and I’m a loner. I’m a 26-year-old writer from Bengaluru. On February 15, 1991, I and my twin happily jumped into this world from our mother’s womb. I had a whole life in front of me. The world was my playground.
My childhood was awesome even though I had lost my dad when I was but a few years old. I did not remember anything about him, hence suffered less emotionally. However, mom’s determination and struggle to raise us couldn’t stop me from missing my dad. I didn’t miss him personally, but I missed the “father figure” in my life. I wanted to be a daddy’s little girl too. I respected what mom was doing – a young, working, beautiful single-parent who was still getting used to the “widow” tag – but come on, I missed dad dropping me off at school.
I don’t remember the date when emptiness, and a feeling that I didn’t know was sadness back then, crept into my life. When I was 11 years old, I enjoyed playing with my sister after school time. We would reach home, freshen up and play before mom came home. Those were the best days of my life. My sister and I fought over games, laughed at our silliness, ate together, adopted a pet, tied a swing to our window, and stole each other’s snacks! Little did I know, that my happiness would soon end and the beautiful curve of my lips would become straight. I stopped laughing or smiling.
If only someone would have stopped and asked me what was happening, I swear I would have cried. If only someone had asked me why I stopped playing, I would have told them that I didn’t like the game of being touched inappropriately. I started dressing appropriately and avoided all my friends. This was the first time I wanted to end my life. My dad had taken his own life by consuming poison. I had heard many narrate to me how he ended his life. I wanted to do the same. I felt like taking a bath a million times to clean the dirt that I felt in my body. Oh wait, I think it damaged my soul more than my body.
We had shifted house and moved closer to my school. I was happy that it had all ended. But had it? A few months later, a person who was a “family friend”, “teacher”, “church member”, started abusing me. It all began when mom was not around. I thought this man who was thrice my age was a friend who came with gifts. Every day, I was being abused in my own house. I couldn’t tell my mom anything as I was scared I’d upset her when she already worked so much to raise us. I used to get angry whenever I saw this person though. I avoided staying alone at home and went to tuitions instead, even when I knew I didn’t need them. He attacked me when I came back from tuition. He stood at the end of the street, under the tree, in the darkness.
Guys from my class who knew about the abuse tried taking advantage of me instead of helping me out. It broke my heart when the crush of my life proposed to me when I was 16 only to take advantage of me as the abuser had told him that he could get to me easily. I felt that I didn’t deserve a meaningful relationship just because I was being abused. I thought about dying but was confused about how to do it.
My first suicide attempt was after my first relationship failed. I was 17 years old and heartbroken. I felt men were taking advantage of me, but I longed for a man’s love. I wanted someone who would protect me from my abuser. Days passed by and I finally gathered the courage to tell my sister about my abuse. She made me call the abuser’s family from my mom’s phone which she flicked for me. I still remember how we stood at the corner of the street, away from my house, and told the abuser’s wife and son what was happening. My sister assured me that nothing like this would ever happen to me again. Thankfully, it didn’t.
The scars were already there; the hurt was deep. The memories haunted me. I had nightmares of being abused almost every night. I couldn’t walk straight; I slouched, I dropped my shoulders as I was scared that anyone could pull me anytime. I still walk this way. On multiple occasions, I had tried ending my life. I couldn’t find a purpose to live. I felt depressed, sad, lonely, and used all the time. Even during the happiest days, I felt incomplete. I couldn’t define the feeling that I felt. At one point, I glorified suicide. I just wanted to stop everything. I didn’t want to feel any pain and I thought to end my life was the best solution.
Right now, I’m being treated for depression and anxiety. I’m finding my way out. Counselling, dance therapy, art classes, music, travel, poetry helps. If you ask me whether it is worth trying – yes, it is! Life can throw a million obstacles at you but living through it is worth it. If you stumble and fall and think you can’t get up at all, make it a part of your dance. When you think it is all over and you can’t see why you should live- hang on, breathe, stop, remember somewhere someone else feels the same way too. Suicide is not an option. You deserve to live and feel all the happiness in this world.
Whenever your depression kicks in and your past tears you apart, remember that this is just a bend and not the end. I grew up as a fatherless girl and was vulnerable because my dad chose suicide. I don’t want to do that to the beautiful people living in my life. I do not want to make my mom grieve for me; my sisters miss me.
I’m now married to a wonderful man who loves my flaws, my deepness, my madness, my tears, my story, my past, and embraces my shortcomings. He has held my hand through depression, abuse, and has helped me put away my suicidal intentions. If you are suicidal, please talk it out to someone. There will be someone out there who is willing to listen. Don’t ever be mute about abuse or suicide. Ask for help – it makes you stronger. Hey, life picked on the wrong person to mess with – didn’t it?
Note: As a part of the suicide prevention and awareness week, this story was written by Clara Asirvatham, for YourDOST, an online counselling and emotional wellness platform.