I am a virgin. 

While, this may come as a surprise to some who think they know me, others may have no change in their perception of me. To the latter, thank you.
 

I speak not out of disdain for those who engage in sexual activities. At times, I wish to be among you. Other times, I am grateful to have kept parts of me hidden. Well, at least, I tried to keep parts of me hidden.
 

The thing is, I have scars on my vulva.
 

I would like to think they were given to me by my uncle. When I was four years old, he deemed me to be the worthiest of his love out of my siblings during a summer trip to my mother’s birth home in Pakistan. My mother was appreciative of her brother’s fondness for me. To her, me being babysat by my uncle meant one less toddler to tow while bargaining through bazaars. To me, me being babysat by my uncle meant having the lights turned out while being locked in a wardrobe until my crying stopped. Then, I was rewarded. “That’s just how your uncle expresses love” was the response I received from my mother when I pleaded with her to tell him to stop. To stop stripping my clothes. To stop fondling my genitals.
 

I want to believe that my scars were given to me by the son of my mother’s best friend. As a six
year old, I thought it quite obvious this boy was going places in life. With ease, he charmed my parents and my siblings. In fact, the power of his charisma extended to him convincing my
parents that I am a liar. My tales of him isolating me in his bedroom to watch clips of horror
movies on youtube, of him editing pictures of my face such that they were smeared with feces,
or of him pulling down my skirt to comment on my crotch - all lies.

 

My father is a cardiologist, a servant to humanity. He cannot have given me any scars since he
has never laid a hand on me. At the end of the day, “he is a great father who loves his children” according to many adults in my life when I would reach out for help. His love for my deceased mother is greater, but I would say that his love for humanity is greatest. According to my dad, I am the reason she died from cancer when I was fifteen. In high school, he often isolated me in a corner or had me wash dishes or scrub tiles at three in the morning while reminding me of my place in the world or lack thereof.

 

My siblings did not give me my scars. I can actually show you the physical scars they left on me. Those scars are visible on parts of my body that society deems acceptable to present in public. But, I would rather not. I am sure they can show you their inner and outer scars that I inflicted.
 

I used to wish that I could visualize the scars on my heart in a tangible form - to know that they
were real. I found a way to accomplish this. The scars that I mention, the scars I wish that others had inflicted on me are the result of self-harm.

 

I have lived amidst luxury as well as litter, but the thing I have learned to prize most is love. Until recently, I scoffed at this topic. I viewed love as an idea misconstrued by mainstream media and as a result impossible to find in today’s society. However, the society I live amongst today - my campus, Rice University - has allowed me to embrace this concept. I see the manifestations of love in my Monday dinner dates with my best friend since the seventh grade. I feel love from my Resident Associate who allowed me to nap in her office where the nightmares could not reach me. I know love exists when I speak to my Orientation Week advisors, and their eyes light up with adoration as they notice the progress I have made in self-compassion. No matter how many appointments I miss, my team at the Rice Well-being and Counseling Center receives me with the warmest smiles. I am well aware of my friends’ love for me. Why else would my friends risk rustication by sliding down staircases with me on stolen mattresses for a little mood boost, or jam with me to Taylor Swift on a golf-cart through a thunderstorm while answering night calls for my job at Housing and Dining?
 

In fact, I now notice love all around. I am able to visualize it in the infants I once acknowledged as inferior in intelligence. I covet their unconditional, bright-eyed love for life. I see love in romantic comedies as well as romantic tragedies. No longer do I assume that the bizarre choices of the protagonists such as Romeo and Juliet or Jasmine and Aladdin are due to dumb decision making or raging teenage hormones. My heart has opened up to the idea of love, but like many I have struggled with and will continue to struggle with self-love.
 

My scars have turned into a sort of superability for me. They give me the power to empathize.
While many have told me the people aforementioned should be punished, I protest. In my eyes, all of these people, myself included, need help. The scars that I pick at now are the ones on my heart. I have learned that when I turn off my empathy, I project the pain I carry within me onto others. When I overestimate the power of my scars and the intuition I channel from them, I tend to build unnecessary walls and wear overbearing armor. I have slept in the corners of bathrooms, the backs of vans, and the benches of public parks, but I have never willingly slept with another person. Although, I hope to do so one day - when the time is right.

© 2019 by MannMukti