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Life After My Husband Died: Why I Bought A Sex Toy Off The Internet

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By Kiran Rai from Love Matters India.

Seema*, a mother of two from Bhopal, was widowed at 29. Her physical desires took a back seat as she geared up to raise her kids and start working. But her work to do with the Internet brought some unexpected pleasures her way.

Being from a small-town middle-class family, my education was not a priority at my home but my marriage definitely was. So, after finishing school, I learned cooking, cleaning, and other chores and by the age of 22, my parents had fixed my marriage.

Amar* was a well-educated man who gave me all the love in this world. After three years of marriage, we had two beautiful children.

A still from the show, Family man, starring Manoj Bajpayee. Representational image. Photo credit: Hindustan Times.

Life was like a dream for us but fate had other plans for me. After seven years of marriage, one monsoon, Amar caught the seasonal flu virus. His health deteriorated quite rapidly. He was admitted to a hospital and died within two days.

My life came to a complete standstill. I felt very lonely after losing my husband, who was also my best friend. I had only one option now, forget my existence and bury myself in raising my kids.

Adjusting To My New Life

With the help of my chachaji (uncle), I learned a bit about computers and start working at his cyber cafe. For a person who had never even been to a college, it was a monumental change in my life.

My work hours at the cyber cafe were 10 am to 5 pm. People came to our cafe to surf on the internet—some to apply for jobs while others to book train tickets.

Gradually, I also realised that many people also came to our cyber cafe to surf porn and to chat with strangers for hours on end. Perhaps, due to my chachaji’s presence and reputation, I never felt uncomfortable working in that environment.

As time moved on, I found my life following a mundane routine. Mornings began with getting my children ready for school. Then, I rushed to the cafe, worked till the evening and went back home, dutifully. Once home, I devoted myself to household chores.

Physical Desires Took A Back Seat

This tedious routine continued for many years. My family advised me to get married again, but I did not want to leave Amar’s house and his memories. Some appreciated my courage, while others empathised with my life as a widow.

Between these everyday roles of my life, I forgot about my innermost desires and need for pleasure. I did not even allow myself to think about them now that my husband was gone. I felt it would be wrong.

At the same time, I found myself short-tempered and irritable with the kids, but could not understand what was causing it.

One morning, I noticed a few strands of grey hair in the mirror and was taken back. I was 33. I wish Amar was with me so I could share the excitement of the “growing old” with him. But the truth was, I did not even have any good friends and felt very lonely.

I just draped my dupatta over my head and left for work at the cyber cafe. Today, my chachaji had some work and did not come to the shop. I had to shut down all the computers before leaving for home in the evening.

Of New Possibilities

As I began shutting down one computer, a Hindi sex stories portal caught my attention. I panicked and quickly shut down the computer. It was ages since I had even heard or thought about sex.

At that point, sex was completely out of my life and my body needs were completely dead. But to my surprise, as I went back home, I could not stop thinking about what I had seen on that computer. I felt excited but at the same time, confused about the rekindling of my desires.

Next day, I reached the cafe ahead of its opening time. I went to the same computer where I had seen the Hindi sex stories portal and began reading it courageously. I felt a new passion grow inside me. This routine continued daily.

Representational image.

Every day, I started for work early and read new sex stories before anyone came to the shop. Though I liked what I was doing, I could not stop myself from wondering about the consequences.

What if someone found out about my new, online escapades. After all, I was a widow and had no right to have physical desires, at least for the society.

But something inside told me to keep going with the flow. I bought a smartphone with my savings and got an internet connection. Now, I was not worried about getting caught reading sex stories at my chachaji’s cafe as I enjoyed them at night when my children were asleep.

It was as if someone had opened the floodgates of my desires, after many years, and they came rushing through, giving me a renewed vigour for life. Given the surge in my desires, I needed more than just sex stories now.

The Final Plunge

One night, as I read a sex story online, I found out about sex toys. I googled the word dildo to find out what exactly it was and to my surprise, it was the most intimate and non-guilty way I could think of pleasuring myself.

I also found out that I could order it online just likes I bought clothes for my kids! I couldn’t have imagined such avenues for privacy for a woman, without the knowledge of technology which my work had introduced me to.

Living in a joint family, I was very nervous about someone finding out about my online purchase. I took leave from work on the day the delivery was scheduled and waited the entire day for it to arrive.

The moment I heard the doorbell ring, I sprung to my feet before anyone else. I hid my mouth with a dupatta and paid the courier guy quickly. My heart started palpitating as I started unpacking the box. There it was, my new toy and I was really excited to try it out.

The dildo has brought an unexpected thrill to my boring life. My heart feels full of a new exuberance after such a long time. I am still a mother to my two children, but I am also the woman that Amar loved.

I am woman who has desires and needs and can look after them without having to feel guilty or ashamed. Though they do not know what has caused it, my family too is relieved with the new and happy me.

*Names have been changed to protect identity.

Featured image, taken from Max Pixel, is for representational purposes only.
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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.

Read more about her campaign. 

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.

Read more about the campaign here.

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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