“So I met this guy on a dating app. I was not sure about how it goes. The concept of blind dating was extremely scary for me. But then, most of my friends were trying it. I did not want to lag behind when they shared stories of how beautiful their date was set up or that the man did not show up. He invited me to his place and he stayed near my paying guest accommodation. I did not mind, what harm could it possibly do? I imagined him setting up his room with roses and candles – the way they show it in Bollywood movies. I went. I saw him. He seemed decent. He came close. We shared a few drinks. What about the time I lost my virginity? I am not sure if I lost it to him or his friends, who he shared the flat with him. I believe they were a group of five or six. I don’t remember the count.”
“I met this guy at my coaching centre. We became really good friends. He was my shoulder to lean on. I felt lonely soon after graduation since my friends got busy with their masters. I felt wasted. I took a drop that year to prepare for civil services exams. I chose to stay back in Delhi since there was not much I could do back home. It was better to stay and take up classes. So Arjun was a new found mate. We felt attracted to each other. I invited him home, I wasn’t ready but we had sex anyway. I asked him to stop. It hurt a lot. He did it anyway. I was crying out loud. He still did not stop. He seemed angry. I felt unaccepted. Hence I had to submit. I didn’t feel like I had a choice. I somehow wanted him to stay.”
“ I had just joined college. I was so excited. I wanted to see myself in the campus diva column of the newspaper! I dressed up well, I was the fashionista. So like every college ritual we had an official and unofficial freshers. I made quite a few friends in college by that time. We went clubbing together and I ironed my hair. I wore a black dress, I knew I looked pretty. I did not do it for anyone but myself. I got drunk, but then I had ‘friends’ to take care of me. It was late but I was glad that my guy friend and I could find an autorickshaw at that hour of the night. I don’t remember much, I was too tired and the vodka was taking a toll on me. But I could sense his touch. He unbuttoned me and he was pressing my nipples. I couldn’t move him away. The autorickshaw driver said, ‘Stop it, sir! You are enticing me. I would want to do it as well.’ I don’t remember much after that. I saw bruises (or what you call hickeys) the next morning when I woke up. They were all over different parts of my body and my thighs hurt. That’s all I remember.”
“He was my drawing teacher. Bong (Bengali) parents emphasise on a holistic development of their kids. It’s kind of a culture to know something apart from academics. I loved drawing. Rather, I prioritised art over academics. I was in class 7. It was just me and my sister at his place. He started showing us his possessions. His fancy CD/ DVD player and his collection of magnets. He played some music on the CD player. My sister was 10 years old and was delighted as the mini cassette player dad had, did not really work well. He made her put headphones and increased the volume. He asked me to come with him. We were on the stairs leading to the terrace. He unbuttoned my dress and I remember I hated my breasts then. I wanted to cut them off.”
“I was four years old. He was my landlord’s son. I called him chacha (uncle). He asked me whether I had taken a bath, to which I said yes. But he still wanted me to take a bath with him. The terrace had a small bathroom that adjoined a room. I noticed that the tap water was running slow. He had told me that there was less water in the tank, so by the time the bucket gets filled, he and I should take a nap. He unzipped my dress. I was naked. I slept facing the window when he asked me to part my legs. He put a cylindrical thing between my thighs. Oh! That’s when my mother told me that it was his private part.”
“I was never really pampered as a kid. I feel extremely ashamed because I am needy. People ask you to control your feelings, maybe it could have helped if I had a rule book about how to go about it. I felt like in order to be wanted, I had to lose something. So I met few boys at a bar. I let them do what they wanted to, with my body. I had lost it completely. Trust me, I did not like it. But I wanted someone to look out for me as well. I just let it happen and neither did I know how to refuse.”
What was common in all of these stories? They felt shaky in their knees. They could not feel the land underneath. They saw themselves bruised, either physically or mentally. They were made to feel ashamed of themselves. They cried out loud with a mute volume. They cupped their hands against their mouth and gasped for breath. Did you ask me their age? Well, all this happened to them – age no bar.