What’s in a touch?

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The upper primary school curriculum of West Bengal has recently incorporated a topic on bad touch and good touch. The idea was to develop awareness among students about sexual abuse. Obviously, this has been done keeping an eye on the rising number of assaults on children around the globe. In most cases, the child, unable to distinguish between the good and bad touch, gets exploited.

But often, we are soothed by a good touch, and even in a crowd sometimes, some touches make us feel protected and cared for. I would love to share a few experiences from my friends’ lives to elucidate this.

One of my friends happens to be a daily passenger on a local train. Local trains are like packed luggage with clothes trying to fit in with desperate futility. Here passengers try to accommodate themselves inside the compartments, but the population is so high that they often are on the verge of falling off the train.

It was one of those busy days. My friend was hanging, holding a rod, like a piece of meat dangling from the jaws of a dog. Her palms were sweating profusely, thus loosening her grip from the rod. She was apprehensive of losing control anytime. Suddenly, she felt two arms pull her inside. At first, my friend got very scared.

In our times, we had no formal education dedicated to bad touch or good touch. All we knew was a bad man and a good man. My friend also thought “it” was a bad man and tried to free herself. But fortunately enough, the arms refused to let her go and pulled her inside. Soon my friend realized the man was trying to protect her. She said, “Please hold tightly. I will fall.” My friend cannot recognize the man if she meets him again. But even God cannot be seen. God can only be felt. To her, those arms were like invisible chords of an angel sent by God.

I recall another incident about my sister. She was suffering from high fever and decided to return home by the last bus available.

Her fever had numbed her senses, and she was under a daze. Somehow she managed to board a bus and occupy a seat. She fell asleep and missed her stoppage. She was awakened by the conductor at the terminus. My sister was stressed. She had no idea about how to return home from that unknown place. To add to her stress was the escalating fever. No one was around. It was almost midnight as my sister has started late in the evening.

As she stood at the stop wondering what to do, a young boy approached her. Pointing to his bike, he asked her if she needed a ride. My sister ignored him and turned her face away. She started walking and took her phone out to call us. The boy followed her. He addressed my sister as didi (sister) and told her that she need not disturb her parents as he would safely drop her home.

My sister sensed something in his tone, which was assuring and asserting. So she stopped walking. The boy insisted her to sit on his bike and made sure my sister held him tight to avoid falling off. He not only dropped her home but also said to her mother,” Aunty, Didi should not have fallen so deeply asleep on a public bus! What if I was not returning home today from work due to an emergency!” His words still ring in my sister’s ears.” What would have happened if-?”

There are definitely people who take advantage of women in crowded buses. But a good man feels humiliated if wrongly accused of abusing a woman. It negatively affects his mind. It is traumatic for him to bear the false accusation of disregarding or assaulting a woman.

I recall an incident where we had gone to visit Tarapeeth. There were many drains along the roads there. The drains were deep and dangerous. So there was that girl who was hopping along the pipe disobeying her mother. She was sixteen years of age, and I was ten.

Suddenly, I saw my father, who was tightly holding my arm, loosen his grip and jump to hold that girl. My father pulled her off a depressed land that led to a deep hollow in the roadside drain. If he had not have pulled her off, she would have lost balance and fallen straight into the drain and found herself stuck in the mud.

The girl’s mother jumped forward and said in a howling tone,” How dare you touch my girl! You seem to be an old man with a daughter! Still, you have not managed to overcome your lust for young adolescents!”

I did not understand at first what she was trying to say as I was young. I thought she was thanking my father differently. But then I noticed my mother’s face turn red and inferred that something was wrong.

My mother said to my father in an even louder tone, “now suffer from the consequences of saving people!”

An ugly altercation followed between my mother and that woman, each trying to defend their cause.

So just as it is a duty and right of a woman to protect her pride and dignity in public places, it is also her responsibility to ensure that no innocent man is wrongly accused of “badly” touching a woman.

Touch has miraculous power. Touching from a loved one can make a silent person, numbed with trauma and pain, shed tears, and seek instant relief.

There was a cousin of mine who lost her best friend in an accident and passed to a stage of mental depression. She stopped talking completely until one day her teacher, who had gone abroad, returned back to town. She hugged her gently and whispered to her to ventilate her emotions. The touch worked wonders. She started recovering graduaḷly, and after a few months, she rebounded to normality.

Sexually assaulted victims are highly cured by modern treatment implemented through touch therapy.

Whether to use or abuse the wand of touch, is up to the user. Touch can inject fear, trauma, depression, but it can also be like the Gift of the Magi that makes one realize the beauty of a good soul and pure heart. Touch can send one to the abyss of darkness just as it can emancipate one to the world of light.

Let’s understand the power of touch. Touch can create sound vibration that can rejuvenate us to live healthily. It can evoke bad vibes that can create an unforgettable memory of pain. As responsible humans, we must use touch to generate positive vibrations. Also spreading good messages of peace, restoration, oneness, togetherness, love, bliss, and harmony to the people around us to make this world a little more bearable place to live in. Like Celine Dylon, I feel like saying:

Touch can touch just one time and last for a lifetime

This is because touch is no less effective than love if applied correctly at the right time.

Featured Image Credits: Sri Harsha Dantuluri

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