Remember when we were teens, the gust of youth flowing through us?
The will that said “Go on” whatever may happen, and the will to take things up.
Remember when we were teens, the hangouts, the friends for life, promises,
Keeping ourselves in cool category was all that we ever cared.
The ton load of work we had from school and colleges, doing it together, rather copying.
Then the laughing and giggling as we make fun of people, life was so good back then.
But we always complained nevertheless.
The gadgets we got weren’t working on the newest technology; the clothes we buy become old only after two weeks.
And of course we all have teenage love problems.
But I don’t remember all these days, the teenage days. I guess I never got to experience that age.
1) Someone at age 13
I became a woman way before I could even take decisions for myself.
Strange men going in and out of my room, doing things to me I couldn’t even imagine of.
I felt pity for the young girls I had heard stories of. Today I pity myself.
Sold to a pleasure house by my own mother, and for what? Money? I want to ask her today,
“How much was I worth of?”
2) Another someone at age 13
Screaming in pain, crying every night, crying my lungs out for someone to help me.
Sent to jail for selling balloons at the signal and blocking the way by half a meter?
A boy selling balloons is a criminal? Occupying space in this world is a crime?
Or was I at the wrong place at the wrong time?
They just took me in to fulfill their needs, lied about the ‘crime’ I did.
Harassed, sexually molested, self-deprived. They just wanted a toy to play around with.
3) Some other no one at age 14
I come home to a day of yelling, utensils thrown at each other, cursing and beating each other.
“If you can’t stay happy together, why did you even get married?” I want to ask them, but I keep quiet and talk to my half torn teddy instead.
Teddy doesn’t even listen.
4) Age 15
Have to work for a local dhaba, I clean up the tables.
I should say I’m an independent teenager, but I can’t even make decisions for my life even if I want to.
That’s because I don’t have a choice. I have to go through this every day.
Clean up their ‘paan’ spit, wash their defied plates, and wear the same clothes I clean tables from.
And for what? So I can have food at the end of the day. The leftover food. The spat out food.
5) Age unknown
“Stoopppp!!” I cry, but no one listens. They hear, but they don’t listen.
The shiny metallic blade coming towards me. Someone holds my mouth with a dirty, blood stained handkerchief.
The blade tears a neat cut through my stomach, red liquid flowing from it.
After some time, I can’t feel the pain. Everything’s become numb, my body, my senses.
“Stop, please stop it. I’ll work as a ‘kaamvaali’ at your house; I’ll even earn you money from different means,
Make me your rakhaael* but don’t do this to me. Please saabji.” All goes on deaf ears.
I wake up after 10 hours, up from my unconscious state, only to realize I have one kidney less.
*rakhaael- prostitute in Hindi
6) Age 16
I walk back after school, in my new kurta and ‘middi’ (long skirt).
Braided hair, parted in two on either side of my neck, chappals so old that they’d tear out any minute.
The way back to home, the fields around me. Suddenly someone grabs me under the roadside tree.
Oh, ‘it’s only my classmate’ I think. He suggests to me that we run away together to start a new life.
I laugh it off saying it’ll never come true. I didn’t love him, why would I say otherwise?
Now I realize I should’ve said otherwise. He dragged me in the hut where the grains were stored and….
He was crazy mad at me, but what wrong did I do?
Here I am now, in front of the well of the same field, 6 hours after that incident, ready to jump in.
I look back and find my mother running towards me from a distance, shaking her hands violently above her head.
I smile at her one last time.
7) Age 13
I had just started my teen life. It started off as normal.
Hangouts with friends, teasing my sister of her new crush in college, shopping with parents.
Westgate shopping Centre in Nairobi-the place to be with your parents on a nice holiday.
Casually having ice candy, when my sister argues with my parents on her clothes.
Then there it was, the loud explosion, people running from upper floors.
In a minute I was lost in the crowd trying to get out of the building. I searched for my family, didn’t find them.
After an hour of hiding in our car outside, which was glass broken and punctured, I get out searching again.
I see- an injured man is being taken to safety; women carrying children run for cover; shoppers are escorted out of the mall and bodies of victims dragged by the hospital people.
And then I see them. My eyes glitter with joy, my parents and my sister.
But I had just seen their faces, didn’t take in the whole scenario. It hit me.
My parents lying down beside a bench, my sister face down, blood oozing out of her head.
I’d become an orphan in less than two hours.
– The Unfortunate Teenager
I can’t write more, at least not in a happy mood. The unfortunate teenager is everywhere. The bomb blasts in Iraq, the tsunami, the whore house, the young hawker on the road, the small boy working at a cheap local restaurant, the beggar at the signal. And then there’s us. What do we talk about? “Is this accessory matching with my new dress?”, or something like, “Dude, you should’ve totally given him a piece of you for talking like that.”
These are the “issues” this generation has. Whereas there are teens of the same age, or younger than us fighting from real problems. Sometimes they fight, sometimes they bear it and sometimes they run away from the problem by committing suicide.
I’m not blaming you for all this. I’m just asking you to think higher than you always thought in the past 13+ lives of yours. Cribbing about not having things your way sounds stupid now as you think of people who didn’t even get to choose their meal. Or those who get their meal only after every 3 days, minimum.
All I’m asking you to do is to be matured enough. Adults say ‘teenagers’ and think of incompetent, immature, and self-centered kids. I want to change that image they have.