The HE Hormone
The HE Hormone5 mins 18.4K 5 mins 18.4K
The opening scene was that of a railways retiring room. The cooling fan of the split AC resulted in the evaporation of the sweaty forehead of the two strangers. Two strangers, a deafening silence and one similarity – the retiring room was about to witness an unfolding story. They were about to board the same train. They had no idea that both of them were heading towards the same destination. Sitting next to each other, both of them exchanged a brief look. One of the young men in his early twenties was evidently low-spirited. He was wearing a midnight blue shirt perfectly complimenting his wheatish complexion. The apparently blue color of the moonlit night sky outside matched the color of his fabric and foreboding. He was downing cups of coffee and the seventh cup in his hand was probably the last he was going to have that very night. After gulping down the coffee, Shakib took out his mobile and clicked on the text message notification only to leave it unanswered.
Why would he even care to reply to a text that has entered his blocked message folder?
“Hello! Can we meet?” – those four words included an unwanted pronoun 'we'. He locked his phone with evident nervousness on his face and got up from his chair. He needed to smoke it out – both the alarm and the angst resulting from the text message. He went outside the retiring room and lit the second last cigarette he had. With each puff of smoke, he wanted to dissipate the charcoal remains of his past. The work of the AC went in vain. Shakib was in cold sweats. The part of his shirt which was nearer to his armpit became one shade darker due to the abnormal sweating. The chill running through his spine appeared to have a competition with the metaphorical coldness of his fear. The art of manliness was taking a form inside of him and he rolled up his sleeves and scanned the area. He found a tea stall open at a distance of few meters. Without giving much attention to the hovering thoughts and fears, he rushed to the shop to grab the jug of water. He splashed some water on his face and back brushed his hair with this wet palms. He felt better. He thought of ignoring the churning of his stomach and turned around to leave from the tea stall.
Shakib entered the railways retiring room only to find the other pair of eyes already looking at him. Shakib smiled at Dheeraj. Dheeraj smiled back and asked, “what is the story behind that stoical grin-and-bear-it expression?”
Shakib was shocked at the question. Dheeraj said, “I am a psychologist by profession.”
Shakib sat next to Dheeraj and nodded. Dheeraj asked again, “What is it that you are trying to suppress?”
Shakib was in a dilemma about sharing his heart out. But Dheeraj knew how to deal with it. After all he had been helping people vent out the venom hidden inside them.
Dheeraj broke the ice and shared an incident from his past. Looking expressionless at the wall, he travelled back in time.
“I had no idea how to deal with it. I was torn between many different thoughts – one leading to my disturbed mind which wanted to ignore any further thought or discussion on this, one leading to my innocent heart which was not sure how to hide this dark secret, one leading to my harassed body which had stories inscribed on it and another one leading to my bruised soul which wanted to scream and tell the whole world about how it has been hurt. I stayed tight-lipped and decided to not think about it. I almost gave up the idea of sharing it with my parents, not sure of how to explain this to them. Little did I realize that this was not just a thought to be kept aside. This needed strict action.”
Shakib understood what Dheeraj was talking about. He listened to him with attention.
Dheeraj continued, “I was horrified. I did not know how to react. As an 11-year-old, learning to defend myself was not one of my priorities, because it never crossed my mind that I have to. He slid his hand inside my track pant that night, crossing all the limits of nonconsensual acts. He groped my budding manhood with his filthy fingers and rubbed it with cruelty.”
A tear drop rolled down Shakib’s cheek. He was empathetic towards Dheeraj. He was familiar with the pain.
Shakib finally gathered some strength to utter a line, “My ex wants to meet me and I do not want to meet my assaulter.”
Dheeraj was not shocked because in his profession, he got to deal with variety of issues and this was the least discussed one but widely happening.
Dheeraj asked him to continue.
“So many other men ― gay, bisexual, straight and otherwise ― have been assaulted and many of us, due to pride or embarrassment or just being unable to untangle the tricky, slippery strands of how and why ― say nothing or find ways to explain away or, worse, blame ourselves for what happened. What’s worse? That it’s so taboo for men ― gay or otherwise ― to talk about being sexually assaulted,” said Shakib.
“We need to believe men when they say they’ve been assaulted.”
”And when they say “no,” no matter where or when or why they’re saying it – it means no,” Dheeraj completed Shakib’s statement.
Both again exchanged a brief look. The bone-chilling incidences of their past stopped haunting them that night, though temporarily and because they shared. The testosterone driven genital injuries and the black-blue remains on their flesh as a result of barbaric acts was shouting at the top of their voice regarding an issue that is less discussed, less touched. Their facial expression displayed a numbing silence.
“It’s a wrap.”
Both Dheeraj and Shakib looked at the director.
“Let us hope that this short film helps to bring a change,” said the budding director.
Both Shakib and Dheeraj got up from their seats, hugged each other and left for home that night but not before saying a line to their friend aka the director, “Hey! Great things take time. You have to maintain patience and perseverance.”
The director smiled faintly and whispered under his breath, “That is why your reel names mean patience!”