Monday, April 22, 2024

How I became a ‘Vedi’

Izza Ahsan

Why exactly did this post, out of all the other posts I see on Instagram on a daily basis, calm a really hidden disturbed spot that I hadn’t even known I sheltered? Why did it leave me feeling like a truckload of weight had been released from my head?

Oh, I know. Blurry high school memories, one by one, sharpened themselves, peeped out of my brain and walked right out, to stand in front of my eyes- naked and guilty and heads hanging in shame.

And boy, what sights they were-

I see –an excited thirteen year old girl, having done all her schooling in a class of four or five students in a tiny, church turned school, literally the size of a chapel which had hugged her back with twice as much as the homely affection she had for it, newly entering high school. A proper school with a play-ground, a canteen, a basketball court, gardens, an auditorium and even their own buses!

I see –an excited thirteen year old talking to everybody she got her hands on, boy and girl alike.

I see –an excited thirteen year old explaining to her teachers how she had to take up additional English instead of Malayalam as she was weak at it, as she was sure her grades would drop due to this.

I see –an excited thirteen year old, consciously or unconsciously, being left untouched by the whispers that passed among her other classmates, “…doesn’t know Malayalam it seems…”, “… bet she’s pretending…”, “… all those English novels she’s reading…”

I see –an excited thirteen year old sharing glances with a certain someone who she did not know was the school head boy, walking past her with copies of Sherlock Holmes and R.K Narayan carefully tucked in his hand, shy smiles always falling off his sleeves, slowly spreading over her cheeks.

I see –an excited thirteen year old being dragged aside by other girls with piercing eyes and worried smiles, asking her “what did you do yesterday, after school?”

I see –a less excited thirteen year old, frowning, perhaps for the first time, saying “I went home”.

I see –everybody looking at a less excited thirteen year old, more often, curious eyes and lopsided smiles- “but really, what did you do that day?”

I see –a confused thirteen year old girl, still in her uniform, on her bed back home, mouth half-open, cheeks half-dried, trying to draw her finger over a scenario that was never meant for her, trying to understand minds that can never be understood, telling herself “but I went home”.

I see –a confused thirteen year old girl, seated in the back of her class, next to a disapproving classmate whose eyes never got tired of murmuring “you should be ashamed of yourself” throughout the day.

I see –a confused thirteen year old girl, turning around to make sure the bunch of guys who walked past her weren’t talking to her when they said something that sounded like her name along with Vedi, while laughing at each other. She turned around, shook the thought and kept walking. Her Malayalam was weak, you see.

I see –a confused thirteen year old girl, being called to the staffroom, to listen to creative tales where she herself didn’t know she was the heroin.
“What does it mean though? Vedi? Why do they keep calling me that?” she asked.
Face to face with startled, kohl filled eyes and a big red bindi staring back at her in horror, “Just go back to class”.

I see –weeks that followed with raging whispers, pointed fingers, suspicious eyes, loud smirks, worried smiles and sympathetic pats; whirling around a once excited thirteen year old girl, who only clearly remembered going home that day.

I hear –Loud hoots accompanied with laughter, which weren’t for her ears but for her early-matured thirteen year old, untouched, “over-sized” body.

I see –a quiet thirteen year old, weeks later, being a part of a day where the stares were deeper, laughs louder, hands pointier and pats heavier, being pushed past the crowded corridor by a bunch of girls towards the boys’ bathroom, resulting in blurry eye sight that, once in the bathroom, settled on one image and one image only.

A pencil-portrait on old white-washed walls. The beautiful pencil portrait of a girl, with short hair, a wide smile and a book in her hand. Only that she was stark naked, and had breasts, the size of don’t-ask-me-what, with her name over her head and her second name under her feet- Vedi.

My memory stops here. Except for the sounds of more laughter in the background because for a while, she had forgotten she was in a boys’ bathroom. And except for the image of a quiet thirteen year old girl going home to her mother, waiting for her to wake up, so she could pose her two questions –

“Are my breasts too big? If so, why did God make it that way?”

She had also sat down to Google the meaning of the word Vedi that day:


[ veh-dee ]


Slang for slut, prostitute or whore in the Malayalam language.

Izza Ahsan is a student of B.A. Honours in English at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi and currently she is doing a Student Exchange Program at Saginaw Valley State University, Michigan, United States


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