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Dark Lust – the other side….

I watched my world crumble & shatter in front of my eyes. The dream that I bore, the light of the future that seemed so bright, the spirit of love, all fell apart. One night, changed my life.

I wish I could turn back the clock and bring the wheels of time to a stop.

I wish I had said no.

I lay there in the bed, motionless. Cold and still. As my body shivered, my mind was blank. My eyes were staring blankly at the ceiling fan. Tethered clothes and a smeared crimson stain adorned me. A few crushed rose petals & bloodstains coloured the bed. I had black marks of gruesome force all over me; he was asleep beside me.

I dread the time I walked into this room, in a veil and without my father’s name. Hopes had made my breath go away. I had waited for this moment my life long, 25 years long.

As I lie here, a string of dark cloudy decisions hover over me; haunting me, taunting me!

It was such a shiny morning, chants & promises; family & friends & an awaiting mask of cruelty. I had made a few; he too committed some. Never had I imagined, that the dream man of my life would push me into this darkness.

Yesterday was so colourful. Dance & music made me laugh & run joyous. Maa & Appa were so happy that they cried. He seemed so nice, so bright & warm. He even sang my favourite song & went down on his knees. Little did I realise, it wasn’t for me. He held my hand & grabbed my waist, I felt so special I couldn’t contain my happiness. I rested my head on his chest as we swayed to the music. He kissed my forehead & whispered ‘I love you’.

Today I saw a ‘whole new him’. As I entered the room, a muck smell of sweat & cigarette welcomed me. He lay there, shirt unbuttoned & in his shorts. One hand over his crotch & the other had a whisky bottle & a cigarette tucked between his fingers. As a new bride, I wasn’t expecting such a scene.

Even during the Haldi ceremony he called me up to know about my whereabouts & said that he missed me. How could I have been so naïve to believe those treacherous eyes. Those eyes of a hawk who was only out to hunt & not to love.

I had a glass of milk in my hand. I didn’t even believe in portraying the ‘perfect Indian bride’. His mother just handed the glass to me & commanded me to go in. I sat on the other extreme corner of the bed. Restless, confused & honestly, a bit scared too. No; not because of what I thought was going to happen. I was taken aback by the current scene I had just witnessed. I handed over the glass to him expecting to start a conversation.

Arranged marriage of our hadn’t permitted me to get in touch with him. We had just met 6 months ago. The rush into a commitment was & is a question mark for me. But I anyways said YES. He charmed me at the first sight. Tall, bearded & baritone; all three requisites I hoped for. I wasn’t really looking for marriage, but I had grown a bit old for staying a spinster according to the society. I gave in.

As soon as he took the glass of milk from my hand, he flung it & spilled the milk all over. He held my hand & pulled me to his side by my wrist. It hurt. But the butterflies in my stomach were overpowering. His whiskers were full of droplets of whiskey & breathe was atrocious. I couldn’t say anything. My excitement bound my lips. He tried to kiss me on my lips; I turned my head & shied away. What happened next literally killed all my butterflies.

On our first official meet, a casual date in a coffee shop; he seemed to order all that I liked; it seemed as if he already knew what I wanted. He suddenly went on his knees & held a ring; so pretty, I could see myself controlling my joy-tears. All of the on-looker crowd applauded. I said YES. He put the ring around my finger & kissed my forehead. Little did I realise it was a ring to chain me down.

My heartbeat became faster as he leaned forward. He embedded his fingers into my cheeks so tight that my mouth opened. With a jolt he jerked my head & turned it towards him. He put his tongue into my mouth & his entire face into mine. I almost felt gagged. As I choked, he wanted to continue more. My hands & my puny manpower were useless at this point.

As a girl, I had always been more into my books than into the world. Sure, I had had guy friends & girl friends growing up. But all of us were too much naïve & very little reality struck. I had my own little world of joy. My parents, sister, friends, my favourite spot in the balcony, my favourite show & a tonne of dreams. Being a movie buff, I had really gotten into Indian movies which gave me stupendous dreams & over rated expectations about my life partner. My dream was so perfect, I feared it would shatter; the splinters of which would become a prick in the rest of the days of my life.

He tossed me into the bed. I was so scattered that I was just trying to put myself in order when he started unbuttoning his shirt & pulled me by leg. I had never felt less secure & unsafe in my entire life. He forced himself on me, feeling me in places I never knew existed. Soon it was all dark. A sudden pricking surge of pain made me want to drown myself. He never understood that pain nor did he bother to comfort. I was bleeding from places difficult to explain. My lips swollen & bleeding with embedded tooth marks. I felt so bare. Half of my clothes were torn & half on the floor. All along I was crying, I was crying silently. My neck was black of rugged biting. I smelled of saliva & semen. My hair was haywire & wet of sweat.

I stressed to feel my body, so much pain & tire that I went numb. The mere pressure of a 100 kgs over me for over 2 hours had torn me from the inside. I struggled to pick myself up to even shift a bit. My head felt so heavy & eyes too. I covered myself with the blanket to wake up less naked.

I was WEAK. I felt HELPLESS. I lay there crying. I lay there still.

I wish I could turn back the clock and bring the wheels of time to a stop.

I wish I had said one NO.

I wish I had never convinced myself into this nightmare to convince the “SOCIETY”. All I had to say was a NO; but I said YES. I wanted to go back in time; back to the times when I was a small kid with no responsibilities & pressure; no one to force me into a commitment. No one to tell me I couldn’t stay alone all by myself & that I needed a man for purposes more than just his name as a suffix to mine.

Motionless as I lay, I just closed my eyes, for I no longer wanted to rewind & play this dreadful event. I didn’t want to curse myself more. There were ways of getting out of this mess but this one event broke me as a person. I would never again feel safe about my judgement.

Started remembering all my happy memories; I wanted to distract myself, at least for a split second. I let my limbs loose. Let my soul loose. I felt white. Peaceful like a water-less white hazy sparse cloud.

I want to return to a safer place, to my mother. She felt so warm & protective. To the time she held for the last time while I was being sent away to my in-laws. I shouldn’t have left. I should have stayed back.

Suddenly my eyelids woke. He was snoring & it sounded like thunder to me in my semi-sleep.

‘What if Amma too experienced this?’

‘Would she have told me?’

‘Would things ever get better?’

‘Have I misunderstood him?’

A hundred new questions swirl in my head like a tornado. I don’t have any answers. I’m looking to seek them. I’m hoping tomorrow will be a better morning & this bad dream ends today. I wish this was just a dream & that I’m hallucinating.

I closed my eyes yet again. My tired body just shut my thoughts & fell deep into trance…

(Note: The piece isn’t a real story. I wrote it as a fiction based on several true incidents that have happened.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

        A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

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