Personal Histories: Iymon Majid

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Illustration: Manglambam Dinesh

| A School Scandal|

IN 2001, a scandal made headlines in school. A boy had written a passionate love letter to a girl in class. Not having the nerve to give it to her in person, he had sneaked it inside her school bag. Next day, a drama unfolded. The girl had shown the letter to her family, blowing the whistle on her love-struck anonymous admirer. Her father, like an angry young man of 1970s Bollywood, came charging to school, entered our class without permission and started shouting for the culprit. My friend got up from his bench and, in an instant, a slap landed on his cheek like a thunderclap. The father thought that he was the alleged writer. The whole class was flabbergasted.

The identity of ‘Romeo at Eleven’ still remains a mystery for the 2006 MET Sopore batch. I can’t imagine his hormones were even active then. Who is interested in the opposite gender at the age of 11?

In the next few days, the school authorities initiated an enquiry into the matter. Our Urdu teacher, Ms Fatima (a sinister lady) headed the enquiry committee. She handpicked some boys of “bad character”; boys performing poorly in studies. She ordered me to give them a sheet of paper. I tore a page from my notebook and gave it to the first boy. Next thing I know, I received a slap because I had torn out a sheet. Fatima then brought in a male teacher to the class. Female teachers in our school often recruited male colleagues to cane students. I don’t remember much about Mr Muzzafar, except that he stammered and sweated. I was bad in Arabic, which he taught, and thus was of “bad character”.

“Move outside with your notebooks,” he stammered out an order. The boys assembled in the corridor. Suddenly Muzzafar came back inside and slapped me. “Why didn’t you go outside?” he said angrily before literally kicking me out of class. Muzzafar began to dictate the love letter, which we had to reproduce in our handwriting. What we wrote was taken to crosscheck against the handwriting in the original letter. I felt my presence in the entire exercise was futile, as I was not the mystery writer.

Two weeks later, I went to the school office to pay my tuition fee. Fatima was sitting there. She saw me and snapped, “I will see you, bastard.” That whole night, I was up wondering why she had said that to me. The next day, I found that, contrary to my confidence, my terrible handwriting had matched with the original one of the love letter.

In the morning assembly, Muzzafar took me to an empty classroom and bolted the door. The next half-an-hour was as close to third degree torture as can be inflicted on a child. He kept digging for dirt. He didn’t torture me physically but it was psychologically traumatic. His every question was related to sexuality and I had no answer for him. For an 11-year-old, this is an alien and uncomfortable topic. At the time, I was in that pre-pubescent, sexless state, which is normal for boys of that age. He repeated this statement a million times: “I know you wrote the letter but tell me the name of the bastard who helped you.” Over and over, I had my guilt drilled into me. Offering any defence was pointless, as he had set, preconceived notions about me. The whole experience was quite Orwellian.

This happened in Class V. By the end of VI, I confess, I was watching porn, reading voraciously about sex, talking about it and posting it online. Boys naturally become curious about sex growing up. But I started a little too early, leading my friends to think that I was immoral. Perhaps, somewhere in my mind I was still being tortured. My teacher gave me my first lesson on sexuality. Till date, I don’t know whether to thank him or hate him.

Iymon Majid is 22. He is a postgraduate student at Jamia Millia Islamia and hails from Kashmir

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