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This is an excerpt from The Telegraph epaper (Calcutta edition) from another part of my book. Click on ‘Torn Apart’.
For those who have read the book and those who have not – meeting this psychiatrist more than my running away became the turning point in my life for what transpired later. Unless you have been to one yourself (at 15) – you wouldn’t know what I am talking about.
Let us keep the other reality of me coming to like and be okay with the psychiatrist who came into my life along with the counselor. I’ve learnt to use the word ‘commonality’ in human traits – which is to say there is always someone behind any label be it someone with schizophrenia or the practitioner.
But what we must remember is the kind of power that comes with authority who seems to know everything. The kind of makeshifts that can happen in just 20 minutes can change your entire life, when someone conveniently decides to abuse and misuse what they have. Let’s face it – we put people who can save us at a pedestal. When we are at our most helpless – we would go to any extent to find something or someone to help us. This is not about me but how my parents (especially my mother) became the victim.
I have spent so many years of my life blaming my parents for lying to me and bringing me here (India). In the process of writing this book I grew hating them but grew to understand what got them to make the decisions they did. After listening to one of my support person’s who read the book I could see how my parents became the victim of a psychiatrist and society and that dictated the rest of my life.
Imagine walking into a cabin at 15 years of age and in 20 minutes you come out diagnosed as a transvestite. This guy tells my parents’ that by 18 I can opt for surgery.
His one meeting played around in my mother’s head for over a decade. Let me stress on this educated superior complex that is now entering our country. People think just because they know better they need to go into villages and rural places to ‘explain’ and ‘educate’ families about mental health. One thinks it is good thing – saviours of the poor and illiterate.
I have a huge problem there. Let’s forget that rural areas are developing. My father has often said ‘The man would have left the village – but the village will not leave the man’. This is not to judge anyone’s mentality in a negative way.
But I thought about what made my mother use the kind of words she did with me. The way in which she would treat me and kept worrying over me when what I did as a teenager was no different than what many of girl friends did.
My biological mother (yes the one I keep fighting with) falls under the category of a ‘typical’ Indian Maharashtrian housewife who married this firangi South Indian – learnt English and went abroad at age 18. She studied up to 11th grade. During her time where girls like her would be married off to their uncles – even 11th grade is quite an achievement. In all our conversations she would try telling me ‘Resh please understand I don’t know the words’ and I would never understand because I simply could not understand where her reaction even came from and why would she send me to places to fix me. I always thought she was never happy with me. Never wanted me the way I am. She’s always tried to change me.
Now that I’ve given you where my mother comes from imagine her having to listen to a man who sits on the throne of God telling her that her child – specifically her already tomboyish notorious rebellious daughter is nothing but a transvestite and needs a sex change for peace in the family.
This became everything that drew us apart because it entered her mind. It played with her mind over and over again. It didn’t matter if my father convinced her that I am nothing close to that and that I am just one of those girls who does things in unconventional ways. It didn’t matter if I wore a dress or grew my hair at one point. It didn’t matter if I went out with boys or with girls. It didn’t matter if I took an oath of celibacy. It didn’t matter because it damaged my entire gender and sexuality complex at a very young age. I got something I never had in the first place.
More than that – it damaged my mother from the inside. She could never say the word nor tell me why because she is not the kind of an ‘educated’ person to have known where her thoughts were coming. She is not the kind who even knows she has the choice to question and ask someone else. She is not the kind (like me) who will fight back and counter question. She took that as the final say about her daughter because some asshole who was a top psychiatrist in Malaysia seemed to have known better as he sat in a large cabin with a line of concerned – shaky – restless parents trying to figure out how they can help their children. It drove my mother to send me to all types of camps not knowing what transpired there. It kept eating her from within to find ways to turn me over when I was not even a transvestite to begin with.
And my own excerpt after 20 years explains to me a lot of what I couldn’t understand even if I was the ‘educated’ one who could fight back.
This is also the reason I don’t believe in the system or psychiatrists who think they need to have the one up over peoples’ lives. Others can talk about it from their experience. Mine is different. I don’t believe in it. I believe in people and as promised to the same 15 year old who paid the price for one asshole’s prescription I can now make peace with my mother and my family.
This is the first time I have expressed my complete disgust and hatred to a system where professionals yet think they know better. I am expressing as the same 15 year old. The adult in me who saw something ‘good’ and ethical in my later treatment comes much later. As a teenager I can’t be expected to think of such professionals as anything good. They are responsible for the lives of millions of teenagers, parents and families they end up destroying.