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If the Internet Didn’t Exist

Photo of a young Indian woman. She is wearing black top, has curly hair, and is wearing glasses.


If the Internet didn’t exist, I believe I would be a highly insecure person.

Don’t read that the wrong way – the stress is more on the highly than on the insecure. If it were the other way around, it would mean I’m not insecure at all.

Which is so far (stress on far) from the truth that it’s funny. Funny in that completely-embarrassed-but-pretending-to-be-just-slightly-embarrassed way that we assume every time we fart in front of a person we know, but not really. Like that colleague from a different department you bump into while taking a smoke break.

Anyway, I digress. We were talking about the Internet.

And my insecurity, of course.

So, I’m a fat girl (woman?), pretending to be completely confident in my skin.

Ha bloody ha, right?

Like most fat girls, I ‘developed’ early – which means I was wearing a bra by the time I was 8. And I completely hated my body for doing that to me, but not more than I hated my mother for forcing it on me. I didn’t want anyone to know what was under my shirt in school. Unfortunately, this wasn’t always possible.  However hard I tried, there was no practical way to hide the fact from my fellow actors in the House play while we all changed in the empty classroom for Akbar and Birbal. (Of course I played Birbal. Duh.)

So I did what any brave 8-year-old would do: I avoided eye contact and changed as quickly as possible, refusing to have any conversation with anyone about anything for as long as it took for the ‘moment’ to pass.

The day after I turned 10, Fat Me needed a Sanitary Napkin.

That first time I bled, I relied completely on my thick dark tights, my dark blue school skirt, and my underwear-washing and mother-blindsiding skills to hide it from everyone for a whole day. I didn’t know what it meant, but I knew it couldn’t possibly be anything good.

The second day was too tricky for me, though. My white pyjamas were red when I went to the loo first thing in the morning, and as any good 10-year-old would, I decided to buy some time to figure out a contingency plan. I went into the bathroom claiming I wanted to take an early bath. And while I was staring at the pants I’d just stripped off, my mother knocked on the door.

Fat Bloodcriminal Me had failed to destroy the evidence on the bed sheet.

My mother, as I had feared, was absolutely pissed. There’s no way I hadn’t noticed this as soon as I woke up, so why didn’t I tell her then, huh?

Fat Scared Bloodcriminal Me muttered some lies about being too sleepy to notice and hoped to whatever gods existed that this wouldn’t blow up.

When my mother then proceeded to ‘explain’ that I was a big girl now (wasn’t I always?) and that I shouldn’t interact too much with boys anymore (don’t they not talk to me already?) and that this will happen every month starting now (what?!), all I understood was that I should have been smarter about hiding my no-longer-secret secret.

When I finally waddled out of the bathroom, hair washed, a thick pad in place between my thighs, and plopped myself on the bed, I had another lecture lined up.

No more bed for you while you bleed. No going into the kitchen. In fact, no moving from the hall except to go to the bathroom.

Fat Embarrassed Scared Bloodcriminal Me just wanted to cry. But we don’t cry, do we? Never!

Or so I thought till the pain arrived, right on cue.

I cried at first. But then Pride teaches you some important survival lessons like how to sob hysterically into your pillow very, very silently at night after you hear two distinct snores and the deep breathing of the person who doesn’t snore.

When the underarms started sprouting, I wondered if I was on my way to becoming a bear. When the pubic hair appeared, I was convinced I wasn’t a normal girl, if I were a girl at all.

In those first few years, my secret dreams were always about how I would suddenly, miraculously, become extremely thin and my breasts would shrink back to where they came from.

By the time I was 12, I wasn’t so angsty about the bra anymore. I had sneaked a peek at other girls while changing in empty classrooms before plays I was part of, and dance contests they were part of. I still hated my breasts, though. Even if they felt nice when I touched them under the blankets. I just didn’t know if that’s the way they were supposed to look; of course I was convinced that they were all wrong, but I still wanted to leave a little to doubt – to hope for the best and nonsense like that.

I made my peace with the underarm hair too. On one occasion, I stood backstage in front of a pretty girl, pretending to help her change into her dance costume, waited patiently for her to lift either hand for a second, stared at her hairy underarm, pretended I thought I saw a spider on the wall behind her, and felt extremely relieved about my predicament.

Thus, Fat Creepy Me had some of her fears assuaged – maybe I wasn’t that much of a freak after all. Maybe it’s only the pubic hair I had to worry about…

With no one to teach me anything at all about my body, it took me 17 long years to finally find my clitoris.

And, boy, what a discovery!

That first time – when my stomach clenched into a tight knot that wouldn’t unclench, and my heart started beating so fast I couldn’t breathe, and my eyes were witnessing colours that didn’t exist until then, and my legs wanted to stretch to the South Pole, and my fingers were moving like they were controlled by an imperious curse performed by an alien spider – I was certain I was unwittingly committing suicide.

But what a way to die, Fat Horny Me’s brain kept telling me.

When the orgasm came, and the shudder passed, I tried it again. And again. And again. Until I was convinced this wasn’t a one-time bonus and that I could do it whenever I wanted to.

I didn’t really know what it was that I had found.

Thankfully, Eleven Minutes was the flavour of the fourth block girls’ hostel that week. And just like that, I had words and meanings and a sense of understanding.

The semester after that, I had a laptop. With Internet.

That beautiful technology that I had so far only used for pranking classmates, sending forwarded emails, reading Harry Potter fan fiction, writing Harry Potter fan fiction, playing stupid games and watching mind boggling porn, was now my friend, philosopher and guide.

The Internet, with its anonymity, was perfect for finding answers to questions that I couldn’t voice.

Is masturbating normal?

Is that how my va-jay-jay is supposed to look?

What, exactly, is BDSM?

And do other people have ass-crack hair, or should I join a circus?

The anonymous human-gods of the Internet gave me answers.

They also gave me the Fat Girls of Button Poetry.

The Internet told me I’m not alone in my misery, that there are others out there struggling to comprehend their bodies and the society that hates these bodies so much. The Internet showed me it was okay to hate my body as long as I loved it. The Internet then proceeded to show me how.

This long drawn out confession-type-thing is my Thank You letter to the Internet. Heartfelt and everything.


हिंदी में इस लेख को पढ़ने के लिए, कृपया यहां क्लिक करें।