I was 23 and shattered when I saw those two lines appearing on the pregnancy kit. I had been physically and mentally harassed and had faced sexual harassment very early on in law school, since then I had been on many medicines, had gone through multiple counselling. I was always under a lot of stress and my periods were never regular. It been a year since I started having a sexual relation with my boyfriend, we always used protection. I was never on any contraception. I don’t know how I got pregnant.
My periods were as usual late, I was tensed. I was feeling sick all the time. I decided to take the pregnancy test. And I felt my fear rising as I saw the two lines appearing. I took the test thrice. I had no idea what to do. I was in the final year of law school and being a mother was nowhere in the ‘List of things to do’. I told my then boyfriend about the tests. We had been going through a rough patch but were still ‘friends’. His first response was ‘How can you be so sure?’. The next was ‘Are you sure you are not making this up to make me stay in the relation?’ These were the last things I wanted to hear. I was already going through a crazy patch in life as an anonymous person had been sending me sexual threats online. The anonymous person had then started lewd remarks about my life to my batchmates, my friends and even my parents. This started as soon as I started getting accepted into colleges abroad for masters. In midst of this, the two pink lines were giving me nightmares. After being subjected to ridiculous remarks by my ex partner, I decided to go to a doctor on my own. In hindsight, I wonder why I did not pick up the phone and call my mother or father. I knew they would have been supportive but I did not have the heart to tell them. Going to any recognised medical institution near college meant that they might just call up my college who would not have taken the matter lightly. So I went to a doctor far away from college, who prescribed the pills. I came back with the pills but was too scared to have them. The next day I got to know I had got admission into my dream college, I was ecstatic. Somehow that gave me the courage to take the pills and I did. The pills made me sick and I spent recuperating over the weekend alone in my hostel. Somehow, the news of my pregnancy and abortion travelled around. (My ex boyfriend said he might have let it slip when he was drunk) My online harassers caught hold of that and tortured me with it for weeks. Everyday I was sent videos of abortion and how I have committed a sin killing a child. Everyday I received a mail titled ‘Slut and killer’. One fine day, my ex boyfriend came up to me and asked me if I had staged the entire thing for attention. I was devastated. He very cheekily said that he is going to call my father and tell him about my abortion and if I did not want him to do that then I should send a mail to all my batchmates stating that I am a liar and I make up stories about harassment and abortion. My ex knew that I did not want my parents to know about this and would go to any extent to prevent him from calling them. When I did not give in to his demands, he called my father. I saw my world breaking apart. My father came to pick me up that day as we were both leaving for my hometown. My father did not mention anything but I knew he was very sad.
As I lay on my bed that night, I just felt so let down. Three years ago, when I decided to file a sexual harassment complaint against a senior, I was rebuked and insulted by many of my peers for no fault of mine. And three years later, I was being judged for a personal decision. The night engulfed me and I woke up 24 hours later in the hospital. I had absorbed many pills and had attempted to take my life. My father met me when I was awake. He asked me a simple question – “Why do you feel guilty for an abortion? You decided what was the best for you. My only regret is that I could not be with you through the process. You have never given up so far no matter what life has chucked your way. Do not give up now.”
10 months down the line, I walked into the ‘Old Fire Station’ and read and heard stories about women who went through abortion. And that gave me the courage to vocalise my own pain. In hindsight, I took the best decision for myself. It was not an easy decision, it was one of the most difficult decisions of my life. And no one had the right to make me feel bad about that decision. Back home in my country, I have hardly ever heard women talk about abortion (even though the rates of abortion are high) and my own experience makes me understand why. There is no way you could vocalise without being targeted.
I am grateful to the exhibition and this portal which has helped me heal. It made me feel I am not the only one. It made me feel connected to strangers who have had this experience and I am ever grateful to you for this.