As a young girl at the ripe old age of nine finishing my first month in an all-girls boarding school tucked in the middle of the Aravalli valley, sex was on my mind. Maybe it was the sweltering heat in the sultry nights that gave rise to deep friendships, forged out of the danger of whispering secrets after lights out. Maybe it was the tossing and turning trying to decide which out of the two bed side partners fate had allotted you, you liked more. Maybe it was thrill of realizing that that the partner you liked more also liked you more.
I still remember her; she was the most brilliant student of our form. There was nothing she couldn’t do. She was the smartest, fastest, strongest, most creative nine-year-old there ever was and she picked me to be her friend. She was also the daughter of two doctors who had sent her to the school equipped with a big shiny encyclopedia on the human body.
It was silver in colour with colorful 3-D diagrams that would pop out if you opened the page, and little flaps which you picked up to reveal more information about the endlessly interesting piece of machinery that a human body is. Her head would always be buried in it, and last I heard she became a doctor too. But that night, after we had discussed all our hopes and dreams and deepest darkest secrets, she asked me if I knew how babies were born. I put on my most authoritative and sophisticated face and said yes, babies are born because of kissing. And she giggled and giggled but refused to divulge anything else. I think it took three additional nights of begging on my part before she agreed to tell me and what she told me horrifies me to this day on.
She said, babies are born when men pee inside women. It was an innocent misreading on her part, but I was shaken to my very core, aghast with the world and my parents and everybody who indulged in this shameful shameful act. She said she couldn’t believe it too at first, but the facts were there plain as day in her book and promised to let me read it. I only fell asleep after we made a pact and swore to each other that we would never do anything like that. We eventually did read the book again and consulted a senior, a ten-year-old who was wise beyond her age, who solemnly shook her head and explained to us what actually happened. But I can assure you, it didn’t do much to calm me down. The biblical apple had been bitten and I was no longer welcome in the garden of innocence.