I want to talk about something that’s a little embarrassing and people might find it uncomfortable to read. So before you proceed, note that I am squirming as I write this. So if you think it is difficult to read, imagine how difficult it is to write. So here goes!
I want to be a Pakistani shepherd.
Sorry. Fine! I’ll tell you the truth. I want to talk a bit about male molestation. *A random goat in Pakistan who is reading this just went “how the tables have turned”.*
So you might be thinking how and why I chose this topic. On a bus journey back from what was nearly a perfect holiday, I was woken up abruptly when the bus I was travelling in hit a speed breaker so hard and fast, I felt like I was inside the belly of a drunk Malyali uncle fighting an angry Bengali intellectual over the correct interpretation of Sitaram Yehcuri’s left eyebrow. But I also found the hand of the guy sitting next to me all over my crotch. I knew it had been there for a while and he had the obvious guilty look of a teenager watching porn for the first time and he quickly got up and sat in the seats behind. It all felt a little surreal and I got down from the bus as soon as possible.
The reason I felt a little surreal because I assumed that once you grow up these kinds of violations would stop. Yes! I was a fat chubby pink kid while growing up which meant that at almost all busses, trains and weddings it would be extra alright to be pinch buttocks and be extra affectionate with their tongues. And this was when I used to wear pants. So wasn’t really revealing much!
Of course, it was always passed off as affection and it wasn’t until you learn to label the acts that you feel bad for yourself but also for that random uncle’s aunt who probably has the sex life of a basaltic rock.
And it doesn’t really stop there! During college a similar incident happened while standing in a local train in Chennai, when I was with a male friend. Him and I decided the best way to deal with it was to laugh about the fact that it was a Tamil man who looked like a Mahalingam who went for my lingam. That was really how that was dealt with because as men we have to give Thor a run for his hammer, no pun intended!
But more than the labels and boundaries it is the surprising lack of emotional infrastructure to deal with these issues that leaves a lot of conversation to be had. And as the psychological bile piles up, you just hope that you don’t do something stupid along the way.
Somewhere along the way stand-up comedy helped. Not that my jokes are all rants on molestation or anything. It’s just that sometimes standup comedians are lovely people to talk to about anything.
Normal people conversations
(Some place with loud music that sounds like the footsteps from an uncoordinated three legged race with three one-legged people. Some beers because…just the warm piss of a cow, man)
(Awkwardly tear away at the label of the beer company)
Me: Isn’t it strange how we say hard work pays but in gyms we pay for hard work?
Non-Me: Hey. Listen. I have to go now. Just…for something.
(Retreat into a self-made invisible cave and sip the beer awkwardly)
Standup Comedian First Conversations
(Awkwardly hang about at an open mic)
Non-Me: Hey. First time?
Me: Yeah. Kinda nervous really!
Non-Me: Don’t worry man! It’ll be fine. You’re going to be a rockstar. Do you want to try your bit with me?
Me: Hey. Not really. I’m sorry. It’ll just get me more nervous.
Non-Me: That’s cool. Do you want to hear my bit out?
Me: Sure. Would love to! What’s it about?
Non-Me: Actually. Childhood mein, molestation hua mera! I am just trying out some bits on it. This is the opening line. “I know I was an attractive kid during school days. Not because I had many girlfriends as a kid, but because I got molested by older uncles a lot”. Kaisa hai? Edgy, no?
Of course not all standup comedians are like this and this is clearly exaggerated, but you get the drift.
I also found out that the legal framework isn’t too helpful either.
And it’s not surprising that conversation regarding the matter is surprisingly minimal. But the worst direction this conversation can head towards (and I swear I heard this once) is the “It happens to boys also so all these girls are just complaining”. It’s part of the same problem methinks!
Anyway, I’m sure such instances are all around us. So next time you are with your friends and enjoying a moment so warm and cozy that life feels like an American sit-com just say “So guys! How many of you were molested as kids?”