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Not Everything Is Always Fair In Love

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“All that you are is all that I’ll ever need” – Ed Sheeran

“Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies” – Aristotle

“There is no charm equal to tenderness of heart” – Jane Austen

“The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing” – Blaise Pascal

“Love is friendship that has caught fire” – Ann Landers

These are the words of people who are the sages of their time. They not only knew about love, but also felt it and experienced it. They were the ones who really knew what true love means. They knew how it feel to be loved. They knew what it takes to love someone. They knew the immense sense of pleasure and satisfaction that one feels when one is loved and cared for by someone. 

But the thing is, Do we know these feelings? Are we aware of this?

Well, I don’t know about you guys, but my answer to all the above will be No.

Now, you may wonder.. why am I saying this?

Relax guys, relax…. You’ll get an answer to each and every question in your mind in the next few minutes. What I think of love has a valid reason. I have a very concrete reason to back up my stand on love.

“The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing” – Blaise Pascal

What I’m going to tell you is based on my experience, a very, very bad experience. Mark my words my friends, everything that has happened to me happens in the rarest of the rare cases, so I highly recommend you to read this article till the very end. This article is going to be long, so please bear with me.

Before starting this, let me tell you, my friends, that I’m paraplegic since birth. This means that my lower limbs are dysfunctional, and I’m bound to a wheelchair for my entire life. The relevance of mentioning my disability here will be clear to you by the end of the article.

So, there is this guy who happens to be my elder brother. It all started when he had just joined a job at a bank, and we were about to start our lives afresh in our new place of residence because of my father’s transfer. We shifted to a rented 2BHK, which was enough for a family of four.

My brother had left for Nagpur to attend his friend’s wedding the very next day. So, apart from the job that he had landed just a few days ago, he had also reached a marriageable age. Eventually, the discussions of ladki waale, unka parivaar etc started doing rounds among my parents and hamesha velle baithe rehne waale relatives. 

One day, when dad was on some business trip to my hometown,only two of us, that’s me and my mom, were there in the flat (the rented one). My brother, who was in Nagpur, was constantly checking in on us, which was kind of weird for us as it has never happened before. He was never a family guy, because he had been living in a boarding school since 4th grade.

By the time dad returned to our flat in Ranchi (my hometown) after completing his meetings, my brother also reached there, so that they could spend the rest of the day together. As I mentioned earlier, since mom and dad were of the opinion that they should start finding a match for my brother, my dad had started having a conversation with a potential family in this regard when my brother dropped a bombshell. Yes… you guessed it right. He was having an affair… My brother was having an affair.

Surprisingly, my father reacted ‘normally’. To be honest, we was happy and praised him for this. It was honestly very unexpected, because Indian families mein aise Papa exist nahi karte. But, to be honest, I sensed something like this way too early, as he was checking in on us that day every now and then. Now, my brother’s girlfriend comes into the picture, and gradually started dominating the whole atmosphere. And the worst part is, he used me, his own younger brother, who is disabled, in this.

Here, let me clear one thing friends. I also played a major role in the whole drama. But, I also made a huge mistake in the process. Actually, my parents didn’t like the girl at all. There were some reasons for this. Firstly, he started a relationship without the knowledge of parents, keeping them in the dark, which is still forgivable because: who does that? Who starts a relationship after asking from parents?

Secondly , they simply didn’t like her because she was actually not good at all.. like.. at all. Thirdly, my brother and his girlfriend themselves took the decision of taking the relationship forward, against my parent’s approval. Parent’s approval didn’t matter to them at all. So, when he revealed that he is in a relationship, he asked me to send a friend request to her on Facebook, which I obeyed unarguably. So, the mistake I did in the midst of all this, which broke my family and my own image in my family, was that I started chatting with her over phone and messenger. This is the biggest mistake I made in my life. This incident broke my image in front of my family forever.

What actually happened was that since my parents didn’t like her, presently my bhabhi (yes, you read it right, we eventually had to agree to them getting married), my parents mistook our chatting as something else. They thought that I was leaking out confidential insights of our family’s discussion and preparation to her. This whole misunderstanding happened because my parents were against this alliance, and they thought that I was the one playing the role of an undercover secret agent for the couple-to-be.

“This whole misunderstanding happened because my parents were against this alliance, and they thought that I was the one playing the role of an undercover secret agent for the couple-to-be.”

Trust me friends, I didn’t have any malafide intentions against my family, but my own elder brother used me for his evil intentions, which tarnished my image in my family forever. Alas! I was even falsely accused of all these without being allowed to put my point. My own parents were accusing me of all these. And despite knowing the fact clearly that he (my brother) was the one responsible for all this, I was being accused of breaking my own family.

Both the parties, my family and the girl’s family, also had a tussle during the prenuptial, for which, again, I was being accused for no reason. And all this, just because I accepted from her a mobile phone as a gift, which was misunderstood as a bribe that they had paid me for my job. It’s just that I was casually trying to break the ice and bond with her, and I casually used to share random things occasionally, not anything which could land me in this situation. But unfortunately, I had to get punished for their mistake. Despite knowing the fact that his younger brother cannot even stand on his feet, let alone walk, he used me for his so-called love, actually just a calf love.

So finally, after several rounds of arguments, hurling abuses, rants, ego-clash and accusations, they got married. After that incident, my mom has accused me in front of guests on several occasions. And one thing that I learned from this whole drama is that no one has anything to do with you. All these relations are a big lie. It’s a big rumour that we consider our reality because of our conditioning. A point of time will certainly come in your life, after which you won’t be able to differentiate between your own ones and others.

So, in my experience, what stops one from loving freely is family situations.

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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.

Read more about her campaign.

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.

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.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

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.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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