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A mother writes a letter to her son, telling him that he should take care and be responsible for his actions.
#ShareYourStory is an initiative by Breakthrough to bring the conversation around sexual harassment into families; to get women talking about the harassment they have experienced with their family members, especially sons (or other boys and young men.)
If you would like to be a part of the #ShareYourStory initiative and create more changemakers, share your letter to your son (or young friends, nephews etc.). You can write a post or send us a short video at firstname.lastname@example.org. More details here.
Writing a letter to you has become a part of my routine now. And I have to admit that I have had my deepest conversations with you through these letters.
Do you remember my letter where I had written to you about some bad memories from my childhood? The purpose of this one also is same – to share the not-so-pleasant memories from my life.
I remember the last letter I had written to you was when you were around 15 and I did not know if your little heart then could understand what I will tell you know. You are a big boy now. Last night the good news about your admission in the college of your choice in Mumbai came through and I am so happy for you. I know you will be gone in a few weeks and that makes me extremely sad. But at the same time, I see a fine gentleman in you – Mamma is so proud of you.
Let me warn you that this letter may be little overwhelming. But it is important for you to know these things because in this world sometime when you experience reality, you are taken aback because at times reality is most unexpected. I have to tell you about these things not because I think of you as someone who could commit all of this. But because if sometime even a thought crosses your mind, you will need a reminder to step away and return to your senses. More importantly, if you ever are in a situation where you see someone else committing something like this, these will help you to take the right decision. So please read intently – here are a couple of stories for you:
The grabbing incident – I was in my college and exams were approaching. So one of my friends and I decided to do some group studies. My friend did not stay very far so she had come over to study. We very excitedly finished our lessons and to our surprise 3 hours had gone by. It was around 8:30 in the evening. My friend packed up and I went to the door to bid her a goodbye.
Just when we were at the door we realised that we had not discussed out next day’s plan. Since she lived just around the corner I decided to walk along with her so that we could discuss our plan on the way. We reached her house and were ending our conversation just when a man came on a cycle. He stopped by in the pretext of asking for directions and squeezed my friend’s breasts. Before my friend and I could do anything, he fled on his cycle speedily. My friend was in a state of shock. I was not sure about how to handle the situation. I left from there once my friend went inside her house. But this incident affected my friend. She became very quiet and could never get her enthusiasm back again. As for me, I was scared of not wearing a jacket or a dupatta while walking on the streets. And I did not know if we were wrong in any way because I had no way to verify – I had nobody to talk to about things like these. I was rather scared to share incidences like these at home because all I can remember from my childhood is “chup raho” (keep quiet).
The hitting incident – This happened when I was quite old – around 30. I was working and had the best job in the world. Usually, my colleagues (2 boys and 1 girl) and I would walk home after walk. The route was common till a distance from where we parted ways – the girl was dropped at a common point and we 3 continued towards our respective houses.
Even to this day, I tend to walk away when I hear a bike approach towards me from behind. Who knows which psychopath on the street is looking for a sadistic pleasure? I sometimes wonder if the world would look different without these fears. Like will the lights come up or if the sun will shine brighter? May be we will live better if not for the fears.
You are stepping into a different phase of life. You will be away from home and exposed to the world without the shield of protection that is home and family. Remember we are always there for you here – me, your girl pal especially. But there could be incidents that will make you vulnerable. When everyone does something, as humans we tend to believe that the majority should be right and why should we restrain ourselves from doing that thing. Sometimes, things will look fun for the moment and without any wrong intention, your friends and you may decide to do something as a harmless playful activity. There will be girls in your class. There will be boys in your class who would consider girls a little lesser than boys, who would laugh at, letch at, pass comments at girls. But remember Beta! Just because you are physically stronger than women, it does not and will never give you the right over girls in anyway. Imagine someone letching at your sister – how would you feel?
I want you to know that girls also come to college with as many dreams and aspirations as boys. It may seem normal to make fun of girls and to harass them – but be aware that it is not normal. I want you to be that friend on whom girls can rely without any fear. Be someone who takes care of them. Be someone who stands up for the right things in life.
I did not want to leave you alone in this world wondering about things that are new to you. But at the same time I do not want to take away the fun of discovering and growing up from you. So I leave you with this letter – there is a lot more out there for you to find out and know about. And if you ever find yourself lost in this big wide world, your girl pal will be right here, ready to listen to you intently and smile at your innocence.
Traveller, Author, Dreamer. Storyteller at Storywallahs.
Left a high flying corporate job to tell stories
An Open Letter To My Future Son: Consent Is Everything
#ShareYourStory Of Sexual Harassment: Let’s Get Men Involved!
May One Son At A Time, Know His Mother’s Struggle: A Letter To My Son
An Open Letter To My Son: Work On Building Trust
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