Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Cabbage Thoran | Cabbage With Grated Coconut | Eating This Makes Your Hair Grow

Well, that was what Amma always told me about cabbage. I hated vegetables. Vegetables and curd. Gawd, yuck. Mother has this story about her trying to smuggle in a little curd into me with a ball of rice and me puking it out even as a baby. Both Amma and Mother tried to make me eat cabbage when i was a kid saying that it would grow my hair. This could be from the guilty feeling they had from once tonsuring me when my head was a ball of curls. The new hair that came was straight as a stick and Amma was distraught. She used to love my curls, apparently.

But yeah, when i developed a liking for cooking, i started liking handling these things -too. To make biriyani, it was necessary to marinate chicken in curd. Inji told me that  it was called wet marination. And then you have these vegetarian friends. So yes, now i like handling vegetables and also eat some. Amma is dead or else i could have told her that i had started eating cabbage. It hasn't helped the hair much, though.

So cabbage thoran - these things in which grated coconut is added are called thoran in Malayalam - i found the recipe from Mishmash, again. Seriously i have no idea what i would have done if not for her blog. Please come back and please drag Inji along with you. I feel sad whenever anyone stops writing. It's unusual. I always wish bad things to other people. So. 

Cabbage thoran - cabbage side dish with grated coconut from Kerala | Reusable with attribution

1 cup of cabbage chopped into small pieces. I chop and then put it in water till the time i finish grating coconut. I strongly believe that's called cleaning cabbage. Also, in the actual recipe, they use 2 cups of cabbage. With me cooking that amount is always a problem because 

a) Not enough people to eat
b) No fridge (yet)

So i dared to cut down the amount of cabbage and keep the other ingredients the same. It tasted just as great as the best cabbage thorans i've had. You see, i hate vegetables but have an advantage in that i am capable of identifying great cooking even in vegetarian dishes. Yaay!

Grated coconut 1/4 cup
To this add, 

1 shallot chopped
1 clove of garlic chopped
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
3/4 green chillies chopped
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp salt

These are to be crushed using hands or mortar and pestle or just pulse them once in the mixie. 

Heat oil in a pan and splutter 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
Then 1/4 tsp urad dal (white lentil)
Then put in two dried red chillies

 Be careful with the flame or you'll end up burning them. 

Add cabbage and you'll hear the 'sheee...' sound. It's fun. 

Add 1/2 tsp salt [It depends on how much salt you added to your coconut so be careful there.]
Cover and cook in medium heat for one minute.
Open the lid, add the coconut mixture, mix and cover and cook for 1 minute.
Open the lid, cook till cabbage is cooked. 

You might want to check the salt at this point and make reparations. 

Add curry leaves and mix. It's done. 

I almost always forget to add curry leaves in the end. This happens with me in dishes where curry leaves are to be added in the end and not sauted in the beginning. 

If i am in the mood to eat, i have it with rice, dal, pappadam (papad) and achar (pickle) and it's heavenly. Yes.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Men who Don't Clean up After Themselves | It's a Thing | Shrink Tales

I took a major decision of my life in the time between the two therapy sessions. And as my family and my partner always suspected, Inji did have a role in it. Mother will be very disappointed and partner has already started making faces. Thank god his eyes are not that big or else for all those rolling and staring he did, i would have started getting nightmares.

So yes, i probably gave up a job offer that would have brought me good money and took up a job in journalism with which i am not even sure i will be able to sustain myself. In films, one is always shown to have attained a lot of happiness and freedom with such decisions. In real life, it feels like there is a hollow in my stomach and anyone can put their hands through it, dig up some of my intestines and eat it.

The new job will be tiring and will require a lot of travelling. All over India. In fact, i am not even sure i'll be able to do it but i'm giving it a try in an attempt to get out of my comfort zone.

When i read the aftermath and reached the part where i mentioned the series of sketches i had once started called 'The Broken Heart Baby and Other Stories,' Ish, my therapist, stopped and said that it was a deeply sad image. A child is usually a very vulnerable and pure and innocent thing and i had associated it with something sad and destructive as a broken heart. I was surprised that she saw it. When i had posted the sketch on Facebook, i had got the feeling that people thought it was funny.It could have been the way in which i sketched but i didn't see anyone who had understood that it had come from a place of immense sadness. I no longer remember what it was but i remember the feeling. Me feeling so hurt, feeling that i was born that way, that i would just have to learn how to live with it and that there was no chance of any of the sadness going away. It could be managed, at best.

The Broken Heart Baby - from the previous session

When i told Ish that i had again been absent minded and had taken an auto to the usual therapy location, she said that it was okay. She always said it was okay. But is it? Even when i don't have money i enter my film in festivals, pay the amount and later forget to send them DVDs. Ish said that it could be out of habit. It was the first time we were holding a session in a different location. Could be, i told myself. I hope not to make the same mistake today.

We had an interesting conversation on how 'projection' happened. I forgot what made us talk of it. For example, i never gave Ish the links to my films because i was sure she wouldn't watch it. This could be because when someone asked me to watch their work and give opinion, i never did. Or did it after two years or so.

But a more vicious form of this, i had noticed when i was fighting sexual harassment in SRFTI. Many girls - the ones who were hell bent upon saying that SRFTI was a 'safe space' and nothing wrong could ever happen there, said that we were lying. Me and other female students who had made complaints of sexual harassment against powerful professors who had fan following among students. I could never understand why anyone would think that someone would lie about being sexually harassed. Their argument was that we were doing it for attention and me in particular because i was also mentally ill. Later i realized how they were able to say such a thing. It was because they would do it. They were projecting it on us!

I told Ish how my partner had started sulking about therapy making faces when i mentioned it. Every night before going to bed, he now asks me, 'what did Ish say?' We laughed about it but Ish said that i shouldn't be shutting him off when he tried to speak about sex with me. I had done that the last time. She said that it probably took a lot of effort from his side to gather courage to speak about sex and therefore it was not wise to be indifferent or appear uninterested when he did that. It was true. I felt bad and guilty for some time. Over the week, i told this to him but he still hasn't initiated another conversation.

During the week, there happened an incident that scared me. Deep, my junior from SRFTI is staying at my place in Bombay. Over the elongated period of his stay, i learned how men never clean up after themselves. This was driving me crazy. Even my partner's behaviour really needed to change when it came to who cleans up, who does chores, in the house. After repeatedly telling, yelling, pleading and sometimes even been driven to tears i formulated a strategy. I would throw their things out one by one every time they did not clean up their mess. Even then they refused to clean up. If i wasn't taking the pills and going for therapy, i am sure i would have had long crying spells of helplessness over this.

So one day when i came home, i saw that Deep had not cleaned up something. I asked him to do it and said that i was going to throw something out if he didn't. He didn't. I threw his shoes out. When i did that, he got angry.

Then something in me changed. I felt nervous. Powerless. He said that i had crossed the line. His expression changed. I started getting scared. In my mind i knew that what he was doing was not right. He had long crossed the line and had troubled me so much - not cleaning up his hair, his beard after he trimmed it, the plates he ate out of and generally the hall in which he lived was like a pigsty. It repelled me to come back home to that. Yet, there i was trying hard to hide the fact that i had got scared of him.

He had no power over me. I was doing him a favour by letting him stay at my place. Without taking rent. I have been told that it is not common in Bombay. Yet, when he got angry, why did i cower in fear.

I crumble under authority.

What do i lose if he becomes angry with me? Some jokes? In fact, a big chunk of misogynistic things i hear every day will be gone if he stops being friends with me. In fact we are not close friends at all. We are not even close. But you know - that fear - that fear i felt when Professor N was flirting with me - that he would stop talking to me if i refused to have sex with him - it was that kind of feeling that i felt. Of course. Not that dangerous. Yet, even memories of the abusive relationship i was once in, with a theatre director in Kerala, who used to beat me up and rape me in hotel rooms and open spaces - they came back to me. In some hotel rooms, he would repeatedly beat me and when i dashed for the door to get out, he would just block it with a casual placement of his arm on the door. That was all it took for him to ensure that i couldn't get out of there. And of course, even if i got out of there, i would always go back.

The thought of me crumbling under authority - even pseudo authority - scared me.

So in the most recent conversation i had with Inji, she said that i shouldn't be comparing myself with Vai Vow. I had felt sad when i realized that he had managed to save what i saved in 8 months on a similar payscale within two months of his joining work. I felt like suing SRFTI for causing me all the expenses of therapy. In fact, i might just do it. But yes, i felt defeated - there - like a broken heart baby - when i thought of the fact that i could have earned much more if i didn't have to take pills or go to doctors or therapy. Felt disabled.

Yet, inji told me that the need to save was just not that important. It was to sustain myself that i needed a job. I spoke as if i had daughters to marry off. I spoke like my mother, she said. It hurt me. Not that i spoke like my mother but that speaking like my mother was not a good thing. I told her that i had problem taking money from my partner. He would have to pay my share of the rent in the coming months so that i can sustain myself on the meagre salary of the new job. She said that she had thought that i had gotten over it. No, i haven't. I feel that anyone who lends me money will then be able to have control over me. I wanted to be completely independent that way.

I cried during that conversation but yes, i am working on not trying to compare my earnings with Vai Vow's and also to not think of earning and saving so much. I thought of what to speak of. I remembered Ish saying that we would have to speak of Inji one whole session. One session? She would be giving one of her smirk shaped smileys.

Oh yeah, in the previous session Ish said that it was intriguing that i thought that me not noticing the maid cleaning up the room when i was in therapy was important. I don't know why it was important. It delighted me very much, in fact, surprised me, i think, that something like that could happen. I failed to notice that a human being had passed twice in front of me while i was speaking with Ish. Ish had explained how it was common. That people had failed to notice her pregnancy and were shocked when she informed them that she was going to go on leave. Just wonders of human mind and general astonishment i have when i learn things about it, i guess.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Women, Wardrobes and men who Just Don't get it | Shrink Tales

I just read the status message in which inji had tagged me. It said, 

‘I was lying. Fiercely independent is a mask to cover up lack of support system.’

Why are there so many broken souls in this place and why do they find each other? 

Reminded me of a series that i had started. ‘Broken Heart Babies’. I tend to think of myself as someone who was born with a broken heart. 

This was the first picture from the series that never saw a second picture. 

The Broken Heart Baby and Other Stories

On the day of therapy, i got up in the morning to fill water in the tank. Slept again only to be woken up by Deep. He is staying here for some time and threatens to stay for a long time every now and then. 

I had poha that he had ordered and was so happy with myself that i was being able to go for therapy even after working on the Saturday before. 
On train, around 1.30 p.m, i got a call from Ish and she asked me what had happened. Yes, i had one more point on my absent mindedness score sheet. I had thought that therapy was scheduled at 2 p.m. I don’t know how i managed to do that when Ish had messaged me that it was going to be at 1 and after me setting alarms based on it before going to bed the previous night.

I immediately felt defeated and angry. Defeated – I always consider it a battle. Everything. My body and mind. While i battle with my body on weight, subjecting it to strange eating habits, i battle with my mind who is forgetful and absent. The to-do lists and Google calendars are my tools. Spreadsheets for managing money and accounts. To defeat my mind that can’t remember directions, i often circle around my destination for more than an hour without asking people for directions.

When i reached my therapist with just ten minutes left of my session that i missed because my mind got the better of me, the first thing i did was to ask her if she thought i was lying. Lying that i had made a mistake in remembering or reading the time she had texted. That i was just running late and was pretending to have made a mistake so that i wouldn’t get reprimanded for it. She said ‘no’ so quickly that i felt it was true. She was even apologetic and asked me if she had made me feel that way. 'It's not you, it's me,' i said. That’s how my mind thought in such situations. I don’t know, why do i always think that people will disbelieve me?

  • Because everyone disbelieved me when i said that i was raped or abused.
  • Mother always thought i was lying about everything and i was lying most of the time too, i guess. So that she wouldn’t get angry with the truth. Truth being things like i was sleeping with a forty year old at 17 etc. 

Ish said a lot of things to make me feel better. About how i was doing very well till then and how people were people because they made mistakes etc. It calmed me down a bit. I don’t think it was because i believed her. Rather it was because i felt glad that she had taken the trouble to make me feel better. 

She asked me what i wanted to do with the ten or twenty minutes she could give me before the next person came. I said that i would read the ‘aftermath.’
We laughed a bit about my partner thinking that we both - my therapist and i were planning things that would affect him, me breaking up with him, for instance. ‘Why does he think so?’ she asked. I said that it could be because i did make a lot of decisions after talking to Inji and of late i had been talking very highly about Ish too. At night when he and i spoke over phone, he completely refuted my theory.

When i described my talks with my partner regarding sex, Ish asked if i thought that me missing the appointment in a bizarre manner was in any way related to the strain associated with the nature of our recent sessions. I was sure it wasn’t that. I always felt good before going to therapy. When i finish off the ‘aftermath’ for the next day, i feel like someone who is wrapping a gift for someone really special. I wonder how therapists live, with getting so many such gifts that are just nicely packed worries about our identities and existence and what not.

Ish said that it looked as if i was too much in love with my partner that she didn’t think i was anywhere near a thought of breaking up with him. She said i could be there for him. Just like how he was there for me. I felt cared for and loved by him so much so that i was willing to be vulnerable in front of him. Then it struck me that that was really something. My eating habits were probably the only vulnerability that i hadn’t exposed in front of him. It eventually became evident, but in so many other ways, i opened up my trunk of ghosts and despair in front of him in spite of having been abused and taken advantage of for the same reason by many other people.

In other words, he had helped me find my kind of love. I had to try to do the same thing for him.

I think i should try to be his mother because when he feels that i let him down, or that i might not want to be with him, that was where he planned to escape to.

I liked it when Ish said that i could leave the talks about sex with my partner there for him to go to when he felt like it, like how i had done with my wanting him to buy me new clothes.
[Note to self: people relate fast and better to metaphors made of their own experiences, speech or writing. Oh i take notes on how to change the world from all possible sources.]

I am now confused if i should drop more hints about those clothes or about renovating our sex life.
I didn’t talk about it the entire period and a day before therapy, he tried to initiate a conversation regarding that. I didn’t engage much.

The Goa trip was just weird. All those celebrities and free flowing money. Things that are capable of making me feel bad. Vai Vow being with me and Han joining us in Goa definitely helped. I shopped – bought a dress, a top and two anklets – after months of putting away my shopping needs.

Oh yeah, i blurted about the dropping of hints regarding Vai Vow buying me clothes to realize that everyone thought i had enough clothes because my cupboard was full of them. Deep joined in to make fun of women-clothes-shopping-what-do-i-wear stuff. I have no idea what men think of clothes. Apparently they don’t think enough.

I still haven’t found a job. Surprisingly, i have not got any panic attacks so far. Maybe because i have enough money to survive for another month. But i am worried that i am not worried about what is going to happen after a month. So one of the days when Mother got angry with me, i just imagined asking her for money like how it used to be till i got a job and that scared me. She would immediately take control over my life with money, i felt.

I should remind myself to write about the incident at the therapist’s during one session when i didn’t notice the woman who was cleaning up went in and out.

Sometimes i feel tired and useless and frustrated when i realize that for me to remember things is a battle. Not fair.

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.