My childhood comprised of negotiations with 17 people and communication with none.
I am on my way back home in the back seat of my car as the driver asked me, “With whom did you go out today?” As a 16-year-old teenager, this question should have invaded my privacy. But as a member of a joint family, I was quiet used to the evasion.
I courteously reply as he moves on to the next question.
Suddenly, I am 11 and staring at the red bows on my shoes as my uncle goes on about the importance of education. 97 points out of a hundred were somehow not enough for a *insert surname*-family-girl.
But all in good faith.
Back to 14, I am nibbling on a slice of blueberry cheesecake. We sit at the dinning table as they judge today’s crime- my aunt did not want to wake up at 6:30 am and make her husband tea. I try to argue the obvious but I’m instantly shut down by the eldest aunt saying that it is a wife’s “duty.”
I try to comprehend the dynamics of a (happily) patriarchal family.
Finally, at 12 years of age, I get a shared bedroom with my brother, who is about the same age as mine. I wake up every night to a pair of lips pressed against mine or a hand on my breast. But he tells me he is looking for his glasses, next day his blanket, then his watch and so on. One night when I feel something in a place even I had not yet fully understood, I run to my mother with questions.
The next day, I get my own room and a secret.
Lesson learnt: I can never stand up for myself.