Sunday, 12 November 2017

New Clothes are Definitely Coming. After Ten Years | Shrink Tales

I went to therapy thinking of my lethargy. Once a month comes a period of time when i know that i have a ton to do and yet all i want to and can do is sleep. Ish, my therapist, told me that i didn’t have to worry about that. Even though i didn’t have a job, there was something in my mind that told me that it was okay and that there would be a plan, eventually. It was true. There were thoughts lurking in the back of my mind regarding my career. No, not career, just ways of making money. 

When i told Ish that i had not started taking the medicines according to the new dosage prescribed by my psychiatrist, she tried her best to look angry and gave it to me. Yeah, now i will have to call the psychiatrist and get scolded by her too, probably, and start taking the new dosage but i felt that it was worth it when i saw Ish trying to put on an angry face. She told me that i was to message her after i spoke to the psychiatrist. She was ‘holding me accountable,’ she said. Like a lot of things, it sounded like a nice thing when she said it. Had it been Mother, i would probably have thrown a tantrum saying it was violation of my privacy or something such. 

[No, i did not call the psychiatrist. Started taking the new dosage.]
When i told her about Director of SRFTI, Debamitra Mitra’s letter to me congratulating me for the IFFI selection, she asked me if she (Debamitra) would have got what i meant through my reply. ‘No,’ i said, ‘because she is stupid.’ 
I just can’t stand that woman. Maybe i should write a postcard to her.
Later that week i did write to her again, when they sent the wrong disc for screening at Goa. It was not about what i wrote. I just wanted to let her know that i hated her, i guess. Here is the letter anyway. Even though she is a woman, i felt like humiliating her when i wrote that letter. In front of the Goa festival authorities – because everyone says it’s a big deal – like how she and many others had humiliated me. Below iss my letter.

This is outrageous.
First you make public my name, now everyone from my school, college etc can identify me as a 'rape victim' and now on top of that is this.
Please send the DCP. Copying HoD and Director, SRFTI to make a note of this. Also Vaibhav Hiwase, who faced a similar situation earlier. ICC Chairperson because of the nature of what you did.

I wanted to scare her too, because that was all i had. But now after some days of writing the letter, and while writing it here for Ish to read, i kind of feel bad for her. I feel bad that i consider her stupid. Also that she is in love with or living with a complete abuser. 

I hope what LJ once told me about Jay (ex-lover) is true. When Ga told me that she was seeing Jay, i asked her to be careful. Extremely cautious about getting physical with him. When i told this to LJ, she got angry with me and asked me why i had said that. I told her that i was warning her, because of how Jay was with me. Then she said something that stuck in my head like how some of Ish’s statements do. She asked me how i knew that Jay would be abusive with everyone. He could be in love with Ga, they could be having a really good time. If it had been a mallu film, one could have easily added a bleaching of the screen to indicate an epiphany over there. LJ probably thought it was just sexual jealousy and not concern for Ga that made me say that. I no longer remember what it was. But yes, that was when i even started thinking of people who had hurt me having a completely normal life, being absolutely loving and caring to other people. 

Speaking of sexual jealousy, my partner and i again had talks. It kind of half-broke my heart. Whenever i talk to him about the problems in my sex life, i feel that he is a baby and that i am the only person who will pick him up when he is crying. Like a neglected child. I want to hold him close and smother him in an attempt to take all the sadness away. Yet, holding his cold hands, i spoke to him about going to a doctor.
His hands become cold whenever i talk about it. It happens when he is scared. 

He told me that since having sex with a woman was the biggest fear in his life before he met me, and because after we started being physically intimate, he overcame most of his fears, he had convinced himself to have been successful. [Successful, as a man born out of our culture, where ‘manhood’ is defined as the ability to sleep with a lot of women or the way in which you sleep with a woman, preferably many women.] He knew somewhere that he was lying to himself about everything being all right. When i brought up the topic again, his lie was exposed before himself and therefore, he felt shattered. 

I felt so bad when he told me that it was after the night that i first spoke to him about our sex life that he came home crying after work. Even when i asked repeatedly that day, he had just said that he had just felt like seeing his mother. Last night, he confessed that the talk on the previous night had caused it. I deduced that the thought of going back to his mother probably rose from it being that one space where he wouldn’t be judged by his ‘manhood’. Rather that was the space where ‘manhood’ was to be removed at the entrance, like footwear, before entering. 

Then, he asked me if Ish had asked me to leave him if he wasn’t willing to go to a doctor. I said no and buried him in my bosom, as much as i could. I then repeated the thing that brought tears to my eyes at the session. 

Ish had said that it showed that i loved him a lot because even when i feared that he would leave me when his sex life got sorted with the help of a doctor, i wanted him to do it. For all the selfishness i have, i couldn’t bring myself to hide it from him that there was a solution or a possibility. True that i would also feel great if i could have a better sex life (i still don’t want to believe this). It could be selfish. But then again, i also had really mad thoughts about getting pregnant with him just to dispel his belief that he was incapable of making babies. 

Oh but when i did get pregnant with him, it wasn’t planned. Story of my life. Even when i was worried about the legality of abortion in India, a not so small part of me was so happy that his misconception had been cleared! 

Not having a job is eating my brain in just small ways, i guess. Like i got angry thinking that i always bought Vai Vow clothes when i felt he needed some and even though he had started earning so much, he was not even thinking of buying me anything before going to Goa. Of course i am still waiting for him to figure it out himself. So i expect to get some new clothes from him after ten years. Men! 

When i pulled out a red pen to scribble something, i thought of the exercise that my earlier psychologist, Ms. Mullick had asked me to do. Scribble on pages with red ink pen when i felt like harming myself. I could also clench ice in my fist or take a cold shower. When Mother heard this, she bought me a red pen. I felt really bad thinking of Mother. She was always buying me things to get me out of my problems, i felt. Even when she gave me money to make films, she probably just saw it as a means in which her girl would be less sad.
I named her as the person who would come with me to Goa with free tickets. 

Vai Vow made fun of me saying that no one went to Goa with parents. That’s okay, she is not parents. She is Mother. She bought me pens. 

Thought for therapy today, will my partner be okay?

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Job's Gone, Want to Sleep, Want to Give Up | Shrink Tales

So my job's gone. The company is shutting down. I just have a couple of weeks left to find another job, if i want to find another job, that is. I say 'if' because my new tantrum is lethargy. I just don't want to do any work. I just want to sleep all the time. Thoughts of SRFTI - the film school that has a great role in my mental health problems - keep coming to me and make me sad. 

My film 'Gi' got selected in International Film Festival of India [IFFI], Goa. I have been told that it is a big deal. I didn't know it was. Now with this achievement, people who had harmed and hurt me for no reason, started speaking with me. Tagging me on Facebook, accepting congratulations, i still don't understand what is so great about this. 

On top of that, the Director of SRFTI, that woman who lives with Shyamal Sengupta, a professor who sexually harassed me and many more women, and who drove me to suicide the last time i went to SRFTI, sent me a letter congratulating me. 

I am extremely elated to learn that your film has been selected for this year's IFFI. Like any head of an institution, I feel immensely proud for your achievement. This feat, so early in your career, speaks volumes about your talent and ingenuity.

I wish you a great and successful career ahead.

This was her message. I couldn't believe it. I always try to be nice towards women but this was just beyond me and i wrote this scathing reply.

Dear Debamitra,

I am extremely intrigued by the level of your shamelessness. Like any woman who has been subjected to sexual harassment and wronged by the system, I feel immensely sorry for you. This vengeance, even while being a woman who is much older than me speaks volumes about your inherent patriarchy and insensitivity.

I hope you apologise to every woman whom you have failed in SRFTI, including me.


People who had attacked me and other fighter women are now seen 'liking' posts on Facebook regarding the achievement. I always say 'we' and 'our' while talking about the films i direct but with this film i have always been careful to say 'my'. It is just my hard work because everyone within and outside the crew was just trying to push me against the wall and make my job so so difficult. Assholes, all of them!

I spoke to my partner about the problems in our sex life. May be we will go to a doctor one day. But it was news to me when during therapy, Ish explained how men lost their virginity by masturbation and it never really mattered just because they were men. She told me that male foreskin going back would be painful to most men. 

Regarding problems that arose out of being abused as a child, she said that it usually resulted in erectile dysfunction, ejaculating soon etc. 

You know what, while i want to have a better sex life, i also am scared that my loving relationship with my partner will change and become violent as soon as it happens. Because i have always felt that the act of penetration itself is violent and it is impossible to do it without being at least a little violent towards your female partner's body. I fear that this will change everything and the one relationship where i am not being abused will turn into abuse.

Maybe i should stop thinking about sex. I don't see this going anywhere. I mean, we ended on a note where i said jokingly that my partner would soon find someone else when he fixed his problem. She said that we would have to talk about that notion. Of course, it springs from my low self esteem and needed attention but i am in some zone where nothing really matters. I just want to sleep. 

Ish asked me why i was scared of hurting my partner by talking about sex. I consider him fragile. I remember the time when i had mailed Han about having feelings for him. My partner had read it and was weeping when i came back to the room. Oh! I would never ever want him to be in such a position. I reprimanded myself so much for that seeing how hurt he was. 

I feel he is precious. Too precious that he had to be kept away from me because i have violence within me. I could hurt him.

Scared of a Relapse, Sex Talks Continue | Shrink Tales

I was anxious when i left for therapy. I was not sure of what had happened the previous week, with me bunking office and cancelling train tickets. I was scared it was a relapse and that Ish, my therapist would confirm my fear. 

When i read the aftermath [what Ish calls these writings], Ish told me that i had got the postcard idea wrong. It was not necessary that the postcard had to be to people whom i hated. [I had failed to come up with results for this definition.] It could be people i was angry with or people who hurt me a lot. That was easy, i thought. I was to do it on the Saturday before the therapy Sunday. 

It was a relief when she said that my sleeping and cancelling plans and not working were not signs of relapse, but of a sense of relief. When i had gone to the psychiatrist, she had reduced the dosage of one of my pills – Lithium. When she gave me the feeling that i had gained weight, it didn’t not affect me as much as it usually does. These were positive signs and proof that i was improving. May be my mind wanted to relish those moments by not doing anything. 

Sex still continues to be a problem. When i think of it i think of a tortoise. I feel that it is a part of me that cannot be penetrated – [the choice of word is intentional because i am a genius. No, it was accidental.] There is a difference in the way that therapy has become ever since i started discussing this problem of mine. As always, i shall try to express the feeling in words so that i get more clarity myself. 

Up until now, whenever Ish told me what she thought of what i thought, i had been able to distance myself from myself and think of it and see that it was true. Even her suggestions like asking me to try to talk to Mother about her – gave me hope. Here, however, like a tortoise, i felt that i had this thick shell on me that even Ish would not be able to crack. It was something only LJ could crack, i felt. But then again, LJ too was a victim and an asexual being. So speaking to her about sex would just make me feel even worse. I mean my life’s goal is to be asexual like her.

The problem is that i don’t think the way i feel about sex is something that came to me naturally. Like me being sexually attracted to women – it came naturally and it was not introduced to me by anyone. But penile penetration was ‘introduced’ [read rape] though violence. It was common that through such experiences of violence you started to get pleasure out of the act itself. 

Me thinking that my partner only wanted my body, constantly checking what he would do if i didn’t have sex with him. Perhaps it was related to LJ. She, when she said that her husband loved her, also spoke about how he waited for her at night, a man who is used to sleeping early. About how much he loved her even though they had sex maybe just once a year. Yes, in previous therapy sessions i had realized that there was no point in seeking a perfect kind of love but still i yearn for that, i feel.

Ish told me about trust. Like a litmus test, i used sex as a test where i would be able to tell if the man is right for me or not. Where i was most vulnerable. This made a lot of sense to me. It really looked as if i used sex for the said purpose. May be this was why LJ once hurt me so much by telling me that i slept with people at the drop of a hat.

Inji told me that i sounded tired. Went to the bank to open an account only to see that the bank had shut for the day. I had forgotten to check it online before leaving. Absent mindedness was creeping in.

I liked it when Ish said that she took care to constantly remind me that i was doing good. I realized how that had actually helped me. I would come back home and squeak to my partner that Ish had said that i was making progress. To see the smile on his face. I wish Mother was able to see me too, going through this process of healing. She would also then be able to understand, looking at me, that healing is possible. I know! I should tell her whenever i see that she is making progress! Wow! Why didn’t i think of this earlier! 

Han asked me something: Why don’t you ask for things? Why don’t you ever ask for help? With luggage, internet, everything – i don’t know when this started. 

Me getting startled when people call me, touch has always been a problem – but when a co-worker always answers to your call with a start, it looks awkward. It just struck me because i am interacting with more people and so more occasions of them calling me are arising. I do have one memory of this happening in degree and how Athulya had said that i was making it up.

Good thing – resumed reading. 

I have started seeing Mother everywhere. Like on the road, i would think that Mother was walking when i saw someone with hair plaited, wearing salwar kameez. 

I am having a great time talking to Mother now. But i realised that she is a broken human being. May be more than me. 

She wants to do things to people who abused me. It is not  just about them having done things to me. It is that she holds them responsible for ruining the family life she and her husband had envisaged for us. It might be her way of running away from taking responsibility, something i do too, by blaming these men. She wouldn’t blame her husband whom she loved and lost. It was better channelizing her anger to these men who in any case deserved to be punished. 

I told her how i had, through therapy, gotten over abuse. How i look at those periods differently now. I didn’t want to hang the abusers or ruin their lives. It was the victim’s prerogative after all. Mother didn’t seem convinced. She has, in the past created ruckus in places in public where she had spotted some of these men. It was highly probable, with Mallu land being an even smaller world than the already small world.

How can she be healed, i thought. And i felt that it was up to me. 

However easy i thought it would be for me to draw a picture postcard to person or people who hurt me, i drew a blank on Saturday when i sat in front of the book. I drew a copy of a photo from long ago, in which Mother and baby me were there. She was carrying me on her shoulder and looking at me with so much love in her eyes that the whole photo was about that love. I just wrote ‘aren’t we both awesome’ in the message part. 

Did i just realize that i have nothing to say to those people who hurt me? I’ll find out soon, i guess.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Sex Life And Related Problems Start | Shrink Tales

I had forgotten the assignment that had been given for the previous week. In the previous session, Ish had explained what i had to do. I was to make a picture postcard, addressed to a person or people i absolutely hated. There had to be a picture and on the side for message, some words that i would want to write. 

The strangest thing was that i thought of many people i say i hate, many people i have every reason to hate and yet i just couldn’t find anyone. I have always thought of myself as a person who disliked all people. I like very few people. I can tolerate a small number of people and can talk to even less, i think. Even then somehow my search engine gave no results throughout the week. 
Since my phone was gone for almost a week, i had not been able to speak with Mother. Ish, my therapist had said that i was doing good, initiating conversation with mother. Sleep cycle changed a lot the previous couple of weeks because Deep and Han were at my place. My partner was away on a shoot and we hardly spoke. 

The day i went to the psychiatrist, the strangest thing happened. 

There wasn’t much to speak about to the doctor. It was just a routine check-up. She reduced the dosage of one of the pills – Lithium. Again, she looked at me and said that i was looking good. This again made me think that she was talking about my body. Every time people said that i looked good after looking at me like that, it meant that i had gained weight. It didn’t affect me as much as it usually does. It still remains a thought that i frequent when in the mood to brood. 

But at the psychiatrist’s, i tried to sleep a bit while waiting for the patient before me to leave. After the consultation, i felt that i only wanted to sleep. I didn’t want to go to office. After getting off at Goregaon station i thought if i should take the path that went to my office or the one to my home. I went home and it was shocking for me. That i did that. I missed a day’s work. But it wasn’t to stop there. 
After reaching home i mailed office that i wasn’t feeling well and that i would like to work from home for two days. I did not work. I didn’t write a word. I slept and watched a serial. Oh, you should all watch that one by the way. It's the Danish series called 'The Killing'. 

That night LJ asked me to go for the protest in Delhi by Pinjra Tod – the one in front of the Supreme Court. I booked a ticket. And then i started freaking out. It was not about my safety. I always go to protests preparing myself for death. But the thought in my mind was that it would disrupt my schedule of not working. I didn’t want an aberration. I felt so ashamed that when Hadiya was in a room, not being able to even talk to anyone, i was thinking of my silly existential problems. I cancelled the ticket soon after even while knowing that i wouldn’t get a refund – it is a strange thing for me to do because i am someone who worries about money a lot – like all of India’s middle class. 

During therapy last week, i had shared my problems with sex with Ish. The thing about it is that i don’t even know if it is a problem. What i know is that i am annoyed by it. Maybe writing about it will give me some clarity. 

I don’t think that the urge to have sex is natural for me. 

That urge, that has something to do with my genitals was always about masturbation. 

I absolutely hate that now it is more about penetration. 

Why? Because penetration by penis is not something that i discovered by myself. It was forced on me and was normalized and turned pleasurable by repeated abuse. 

I hate it that i think of men (and women) sexually once i establish some kind of closeness with them. It is as if i want to check and see how it would be like to have sex with them. I can’t even bring myself to believe that i am such a person. 

Ish tried a lot to tell me that it was natural. The problem here is not that i think women who feel this way are inferior in some way. My problem is that i was not  like that and turned into that. Since my transformation happened through a series of abusive relationships that were largely sexual, i think this part of me was never a part of me and is a work of many abusers. I hate that. 

Earlier, such instances where i feel physically attracted to men have resulted in me having sex with them. This again had led to more heartaches and depression. Since me and my partner are in a monogamous relationship i don’t want to end up in yet another situation like that. However, what keeps me from doing it is just my partner. I don’t want to hurt him. That makes me think why it is that i am not indulging in this behaviour because it’s something i don’t want as a person? 

I was tense this week. My bunking office and sleeping like i was in SRFTI (film school) scared me. It was as if something in the air was constantly telling me that something was wrong.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

When I Met Mother | Shrink Tales

I had slept very late the previous night. I woke up at 11 in spite of the alarms. I think my partner couldn’t wake me up because he too had slept late. Both of us were trying to convince a common friend that he had to get out of his abusive relationship with another common friend, one whom i loved very much. It was really painful. 

Once again, Ish, my therapist, and i were running late together. I was irredeemably late though and we had to have the therapy on phone. It was a little uncomfortable in the beginning but when i realized that Ish was the same as she is when we interact face to face, i eased up. 

We started talking about my weight and eating issues. She asked me a question. You know how it is? If you are up to something you know you are up to something. A question is all it takes to make you figure out something you’ve known all along. And when that happens with me, i feel like i am alone in a cave that is pitch dark and that some light seeped in through a narrow crack. When i follow that light i realize that i see more details. Say the carvings on the walls. 

Edakkal caves, Wayanad. The rocks in a perpetual kiss.

So Ish asked me about a contradiction in my life – one that i had not thought about or seen. She asked me why it was that i considered my body as something to hurt when i was in pain and at the same time went to extreme means to reach the goal called the perfect body. The answer emerged as i thought, formulated the words and articulated them.
‘Because by trying to make my body look perfect i am doing the same thing – hurting it – like how i punish my body to relieve my pain on other occasions.’

There. That was something i had never thought of. I don’t know what that realization implies. But it is nevertheless a realization that felt very meaningful when i had it. Like the very satisfying sound of a lock clicking open.

Mother – the only thing Ish asked me was if i had ever spoken to her about herself. 

Yeah, i guess, i thought. Stories about her childhood, poverty, her love story with Father. But no. I had not done that in a long time. Somehow, over the years, i had come to resent those stories. When Ish asked me to give it a try, i somehow felt that half my job was done. There was hope. And guess what? I have discovered a new Mother. 

I cry, and feel with her. I imagine myself as her. I even found out that we used to think the same way about love, at the same age. Like how i thought that my love could change the other person. She thought that her love could change Father’s alcoholism. I felt so sad, listening to her speak about how she began her life with Father. 

Over the week we spoke more and more and i felt closer to her than ever. It was a miracle. The most saddening part was that she was just waiting for me to ask her. It was i who had not shown any mercy. One question and Mother was opening up. I felt guilty. But then i realized that there is a reason why i am being able to do this now. It is because my own pain has disappeared, to a large extent. Otherwise, selfish as i am, i was always hunting down my pain and trying ways to deal with it. Mother’s or no other person’s emotions had place there. Now maybe there is some room because a big chunk of pain has just vacated the room. 

Every conversation i had with her made me closer to her. I took care not to say anything about me unless she asked. Pity that phone stopped working. [I didn’t get up on time to turn the tap off. Flat flooded and phone drowned.] I remember LJ educating me on love letters. That it is all about them. Not about us. I never imagined that would make a difference. Here Ish said 'Who is this LJ? I want to meet her.' I rolled my eyes and smiled to myself.

Was shocked to see the wonder that human mind is when Mother started responding kindly to me. The tenderness that i had not felt in years while talking to her came back. At an incredible rate that too. Brings back the memory of me rushing to her and hugging her after reading the screenplay of ‘The Sixth Sense.’ And that was maybe 9 years ago! 
Why do i feel that Ish asked me to do something over the week and i forgot?  

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Self Harming, Masochism and Control | Shrink Tales

I realized i wasn’t ready to talk about my weight problems and eating habits. I was just not ready to put it on the list - of things to address. And guess what, i came back home and at night my partner showed me a video from film school where i was dancing in my room and i realized that i had put on weight. Since then my mood has shifted back to those from the dreadful times when i couldn’t stop eating. When i couldn’t walk because i had too much food inside me, when i just couldn’t do anything. Oh my god. That time when i went to a gym in Kolkata. That time when i tried exercising. Even as i type i am welling up. Just because i saw an earlier video of mine in which i appeared thinner. I am now going to on Facebook and delete the recent photo i uploaded when i was so happy that the Hadiya case was moving in a hopeful direction. Probably will end up deleting all the photos in my phone too. 

Ish asked me to remind my psychiatrist of this weight issue when i mentioned how i kept two weighing scales at home. That reminds me. Let me re-re-re-check my weight in the second weighing scale. 

The most hopeful part of that day's therapy was when Ish told me that depression could be shut off forever. It came up because i had been shocked the week before when she had said that it was also her job to make surethat it didn’t come back. It was possible, she said. Usually people kept conditions like ‘i won’t take pills but i can be at therapy’ – this one is just like Mother. She also stopped going for therapy later. In fact people, like how Mother did with me, might even discourage people from doing it. She was very upset when she heard that i had gone to a therapist in Kolkata. The issue was my eating habits at that point of time. There was nothing wrong, that was how all people were, she had said. No, Mother, all people are not like that. We are all, as a family, used to such abnormalities and self-punishment that we feel that it is normal.  

We did a flashback session in which Ish spoke about the major developments in each of our sessions so far. There was a turning point where i realized that the repeated abusive relationships could have come from the normalization of violence in my childhood and life. In fact, i am very thankful to Ish for having recognized that as a serious problem. She herself was surprised, she said, that it was not enough for me to have got abused once, that i went back again and again to different forms of violence in different relationships. I feel so much relieved every time i think of the moment from my first session with Ish, when she said that she would like to start by addressing my recurring abusive relationships. It was an area that only Inji had touched till then. No professional had correctly identified that problem. It was always as if i was waiting for them to identify it and make it go away but when they didn’t figure it out themselves, i deluded myself saying it wasn’t probably important. I thought of Mother’s and Sister’s opinion that it was happening because i had ‘a thing’ for older men. These are educated women, one, a journalist who even writes about abuse. Imagine the horror! 

She also reminded how i always looked up to my sister and how, i always wanted to be like her. Yes, i copied her handwriting, her words, her way of speaking and everything i could because she was the best. But later, when i saw that she was doing things that i couldn't copy, things that i didn't want to copy, it occurred to me that i no longer had anyone to copy. Maybe that's why i stuck to inji like a magnet. Today, i pursue inji's character with the same vigour i pursued my sister's character. That made me wonder why i always wanted someone to emulate. Was it common? 

This reminded me of Mother. While growing up, after puberty, when i started voicing my opinions, i used to find it really annoying when Mother said that she didn't want us (me and Sister) to be like her. I remember getting angry with her even, for always speaking like that. I selfishly wanted a mother who asked their children to be like her, because she was the best. I hated that she had no respect for herself. And look at me now.
I think in the next session i should talk about my sex life that got affected. [If it is okay to speak about it during therapy.] The way i am ashamed of being sexually aroused by things that were part of abuse and i got introduced to because of and during abuse. It’s dreadful. I remember a victim of child sexual abuse once telling me that it was a common phenomenon, after i made the film in solidarity with Memories of a Machine. This may also explain why i feel a lot guilty in my relationship with my partner. Sexually. 

Over the sessions we had also touched upon the kind of love i wanted. The kind of love i had. Spoke about Appan. Who never hurt me. About what i thought was motherly love and how i broke that stereotype by understanding that was just a name i had given the love i wanted. 

She asked me when my self hurting methods had started. I told her about the time when i had scored 85% in math in high school and was scared that Mother would beat me or yell at me for that. That was when i firstran a razor blade over my wrist. I remember going home and making some more superficial cuts. I also just remembered that i had the habit of doing stuff like that for apparently no reason too. I remember dripping wax from a candle on my fist to experience that pain. I remember striking my thumb with a stapler just to ‘see if it would hurt.’ These had no triggers, like a poor score in an exam or sadness. 

The next time i scarred myself like crazy was when i heard of Appan. He was losing his memory. I knew that this was the first in the series of things that was going to lead to his death. I thought of him, sitting in the room where i had stuck some of his sketches on the brick wall and scarred my wrist – all superficial cuts, just enough to let me bleed. That was the day i started preparing for his death. 

I remembered how i had broken a bangle and scarred myself in front of Mother when she and i were having one of our arguments. Ish asked me what i felt during those. Frustration. When i thought of it, even though i don’t even remember what the fight was about, i got that feeling i get when people don’t understand what i say. She said that it could be because they weren’t yet there. That made sense to me. I too, have come a long way. I do understand things i never understood when i was younger. It could also be that the other person was shunning me. Could that be intentional, i asked, thinking of Mother. ‘Could be,’ she said. They could be doing it also to protect themselves. From the truth or pain of realization. 

I totally loved that. I no longer feel frustrated. I no longer feel like wringing my body like a cloth till every word that will help others understand how i feel will drip out of my body. Instead, when i think of people who have put me in such positions, i feel sorry, that i even tried so much. Every time i tried, maybe Mother was getting hurt. Or trying hard, not to listen and tried to shun me in ways that hurt me. I feel like hugging Mother now. [Maybe because she isn’t here now. Why don’t you call her, i ask myself. ‘No, that wouldn’t make any sense.’ I will write a mail. I know. Hey Gmail, are you hiring?

I also spoke of how i viewed therapy. How i could see and feel changes. Like how i laughed more, or joked more. There is no desperation about the sexual harassment battle or any battle. There is no thoughts of giving up. How i felt happy that my partner was less burdened with my sadness. Feeling responsible for Mother. The way in which i was handling the situation. 

Ish then said that hurting my body was part of human beings’ strategy of being hard on themselves. All our social values and morals etc. taught us to be kind to others, loving to others [Was Jesus a conspiracy of moral science?] It does not teach us to love ourselves. When she said that, my hopes diminished. It was true. If there ever was a lesson called ‘love oneself’ i was absent in it. Or, it could also be that it wasn’t taught properly. Facebook is always flooded with images of women who say ‘in love with myself’ i don’t think i can ever do that with my whole heart. I got scared that i wouldn’t be able to solve the self harming problem because i was sure that i wouldn’t succeed in loving myself in the manner that Ish was talking about. She further explained that we turned to our bodies because that was ALL WE HAD. That made perfect sense to me. 

Mother, sister, abuser, venomous words and verbal fights could only help so much. Beyond that, i would have to turn to something i had absolute control over because i possessed it. I HAD my body. I could do anything to it. I clench my fist as if to hit someone when i think of it. Get visions of a knife running through my leg exposing blood and flesh. Many more bloody images flash. To think that i had something that i could do stuff to, the power it gave me, it must be really soothing to my brain that i had control over something. That there was one thing i could abuse. For once, i could be nasty as abusers were to me to someone. Something – my body. Whenever i write ‘my body,’ you know what i think of? A sack. Filled with potatoes or something. It’s just a thing i carry, i feel. 

[Read Raya’s update the same day. Commented there.]
Ish’s method of joining feminism in therapy was really good. I thought of NN's mother who she said was a therapist. Her views on things had scared me. It's not about feminism either. It is about dealing with victims. Professionally. Even when i am an atheist i should be able to deal with Mother's problems regarding her faith. 

The sketches i had made for Sanghadita upon Inji's request got published. One day Mother abused Inji and pappu and baby and i thought it was because she had seen those illustrations. I felt horrible and the wound is sore. I need to get out of the frustration to be able to help Mother. I am the strongest and i have the most love. I really long for Mother. There is just this wall in between. I should start making tools to break it. 

One of the sketches i made for Sanghadita on the theme 'Mother and i'. Even though the picture here is not from my life, i added elements from my childhood and filled it with the same love i feel for Mother. The task is to make Mother understand that i love her and that my love is perhaps different from hers.

During the week i thought of an abuser’s psychology. Wouldn’t it be great if i could figure them out? I think it is important to understand their psychology just as i try to understand all aspects of a victim's psychology.