Reading IHM’s blog about a lady’s flustering experience of buying a condom took me back to our fresher’s party at the main hall of Delhi School of Social Work.
Except for the precious one or two hardly anyone cried at seniors’ interrogation aka ragging at anytime. I mean, they were quite nice to me. But still I was feeling a tad nervous, least because I was a thousand miles from home. ‘C’mon now, you are not a 10 year old off to boarding school for the first time. You are an MA student.’ This thought didn’t help much.
Professors made speeches. Seniors danced, sang. We interacted and received gifts, nothing much. Then we reached the killer game. Seniors divided us into groups of 5 and gave 2-3 condoms to each group. I somehow stopped a horrified EWW escape me. Believe it or not, that was the first time I saw one. With shaking fingers I took it and dropped it immediately. We were supposed to think of OTHER creative ways to utilize a condom and present it to the audience. HOW?
Condom is kind of hard to touch, but light too. I tried to find out the stretching point to tear it. Wasn’t possible. Okay, now what? My mind was numbly blank or blankly numb. SB tugged the condom impatiently out of my hands. ‘Oh C’mon, Nidaa.. Don’t play with it as if you are seeing a condom for the first time’. She meant it a joke. I laughed, making her believe it so, all the while my heart was beating painfully.
She started handling it skillfully and came up with the idea. Lovers from different ships can use this to float messages to one another. We made a kind of play, something to do with a pirate and her mistress, separated and lonely in different ships. Another team blew it up real long, that it was almost my height, drew eyes nose and tongue and did something. After our presentation, I started to feel a bit dizzy. I sat down quickly. ‘What happened suddenly? You are shivering. Oh my God, you have fever. But you were alright 2 minutes ago…’ I knew SB was concerned, but I wished she’d shut up. My head was spinning.
Then just as suddenly I was OK. I can safely blame it on my first experience of touching a condom.
Shamefully, I confessed to SB and IG that Im hopelessly inexperienced and don’t know anything. Heck, my main in high school was computer science and not biology. They laghed and were like its just a condom silly…
One of my seniors came to me as I was sitting far from everyone. When he asked what happened I felt a bit awkward.Then I burst out, ‘why why dya have to embarrass us like this, RJ Bhayya.. you guys are always thinking of ways to torment us girls…’ I was rambling.
He wasn’t angry. He patted my shoulder and said as social workers we have to face lots. Like going to sex workers community and advocate use of condoms, like giving HIV workshops to truck drivers and suchlike.
‘If you yourself are scared of holding a condom, how are you going to help people and empower them?’ This game is to help you in the long run.
And it did.
I smiled at him and looked at my classmates. They were playing with condom balloons, throwing and catching. I got up.
‘Its just a condom silly…
I laughed and joined my classmates in their foolery. At the time I couldn't help feeling that innocence is stupendously overrated.
Months later, when at a workshop, a NACO representative was demonstrating how to use a condom. When he said you shouldn't put it on like socks, I was the one who laughed the loudest.