I thought sex meant lying next to someone under a blanket and smooching. I was so, so wrong
By Ankita Salian
Illustrations by Maitri Dore
If you’ve seen this Marathi movie called Balak Palak, you will definitely have a fair idea of what I’m talking about. However those of you who are clueless about it, kindly read the entire story. It might be relatable to some of you, or maybe not. It’s the story of how my attitude changed from sex negative to sex positive.
I was born and brought up in a typical middle-class family. Although I grew up in the 2000s, the ‘sanskaar’ given to me by my parents belonged devotedly to the 90s. We had this big fat common TV in the living room dominated by Doordarshan channels for entertainment. So right from my childhood I was made to believe by Doordarshan that only married couples should stay together in one room, and on the wedding night the only thing that happens is a shy exchange of smiles with the lights turning off, or flowers jiggling naughtily against each other.
When love-making scenes suddenly appeared on TV, I was told by my elders that they were a bad thing and should not be watched by children. My sister used the term “adult content” to describe not-so-controversial scenes – like a kiss on the lips, which was common in Barbie and Disney cartoons – which she thought I should only be allowed to watch after I was 18 years old. I was even greeted with a tight slap on the face for once asking her what a condom is. The reply that came after that was that I should never ask her or anyone else such questions again. The older I grew, so did the number of such ‘unsanskaari’ questions I had. However, I was afraid to talk about them with anyone.
Finally, I entered into my teenage years and like every teenager, I had a girl gang, where discussions related to “that thing” – or dhichak dhichak, as sex is referred to by teenagers in Marathi slang – started. Here, I must thank Emraan Hashmi, because of whom we could talk about it openly. At first we thought of him and his movies with disgust, but soon we began to wonder why people do dhichak dhichak. In our quest for the truth, the members of our gang started doing some research – but of course, that didn’t include me, because of my past experiences. They struggled a lot though. The worst thing was the lack of personal cell phones and cheap Internet, and hence a lack of information. At that time Jio might not even have been conceived of in Ambani’s mind.
One thing we believed was that dhichak dhichak was only done by bad people, even though we didn’t yet know what sex actually involved. We thought “that thing” was couples sleeping too close together, which our parents never did in front of us. It also meant couples kissing each other everywhere and removing clothes (the idea of which was unbearable, because it went against the concept of shame taught to us right from childhood). Then we came across shocking revelations – like it could be done for pleasure. And it could be done with multiple people! However the worst was yet to come. It felt almost like trauma when one of our friends revealed to us that dhichak dhichak was necessary to make babies – she got to know that from one of her school friends. It was exactly the same feeling of getting into a crowded Borivali local train from Churchgate and later coming to know that it will halt at Platform No. 8 in Borivali. We were numb for a few minutes, and didn’t know how to react. Different emotions and thoughts were running through our minds. The worst part of the discussion was, “It is done by our parents and grandparents too.” The effect was so bad that we were unable to look at our parent’s faces and talk to them. All our childhood theories (built carefully by our elders) about how babies are made, like “babies are sent by gods” and “sitting too close to boys will make you pregnant” were shattered in a minute. The revelations were worse than learning that Milind Soman has gotten married! We even started developing trust issues with our parents. Anyhow, at this point of time our thoughts and opinions began to evolve and we were struggling to try and see sex as normal.
Now we started to explore the sexual world more. We came to know about ‘blue films’ and thought they could be a guide to sex, but had never watched any. Once again, Emraan Hashmi came to our rescue and the songs from his movies became our porn. He became our sex guru. Whatever sex education we had was because of him and his co-stars. A couple more years passed and some of my friends entered into the 10th standard and with that, some correct information about sex filtered down to us. And another shocking revelation came our way – sex required a penis entering into a vagina! More than shocking, it was scary, because we were all girls and couldn’t imagine anything entering into anyone’s vagina. Now we started seeing sex as something horrible.
Finally, somehow, one of my friends got a cellphone with an Internet connection after trying to convince her parents for more than a year. And that was our ticket to watching actual porn. I was in the 9th standard at that time. Back then, we didn’t think about pleasure or pain, just the idea of a penis entering into a vagina was too much (especially because until then, I imagined sex as two people lying together under a blanket, and only smooches were involved). We discovered that the actors were actually enjoying (or pretending to enjoy) the things that they were doing. It was surprising – seeing that sex could give you pleasure. And while mainstream movies only seemed to show us one position in which people had sex, we were suddenly seeing that sex could be had in various kinds of positions. The desire and lust shared by the couple we were watching seemed mutual. After that, our attitude towards sex began to change, and we began to realise that it could be a fun and pleasurable activity shared by two people.
A year later, in the 10th standard, I finally had a sex education session. An educational video was shown to us during coaching class, which told us about the entire process. It was the first time that I saw what a condom actually looks like. Sex was no longer some kind of secret – it was a part of our syllabus, explained to us in detail. There was still some shame involved when discussing it with guys, but for me that gradually disappeared with time. And from then onwards, my negative attitude to sex completely changed and I began to look upon it as normal.
According to me the most important thing about sex is consent and openness of opinions between partners. I guess nothing else matters. And I think sex education should be given to every child at the right age so that figuring out what sex is doesn’t become a trauma-filled search for information, and we don’t have to look to poor Emraan Hashmi for all the answers!
Ankita is 22, female, and a student whose life lies in ruins (as she’s pursuing archaeology). Most of her time is spent on unlearning stereotypes and prejudices taught to her when she was younger. The rest of the time is dedicated to hogging food, sharing memes and updating her sense of humour.