Just the other day, like always, I was scrolling through my twitter timeline to read about interesting events unfolding in the political scenario when I came across a thread curated by Abhijit Majumdar. He wrote about this tragic incident involving a 16-year-old Arvey Malhotra, student of Delhi Public School, Faridabad. The boy jumped to death from the 15th floor of his building on 24th February, 2022. He died by suicide.
Abhijit, through his thread, redirected me to the Humans of Bombay’s post where Arvey’s mother Aarti Malhotra spoke about her son’s ordeal.
Arvey began to face bullying when he was in 6th grade. His classmates often addressed him as ‘Gay’, ‘Chakka’ (a slang for trans-person) because he had a feminine personality. Aarti, who happened to be a teacher in the same DPS, Faridabad, complained to the authorities but they refused to take any action, in fact went on to accuse Arvey of being a ‘Nautanki’. The more I read about his suffering, the more I was fuming with rage.
I’ve been meaning to write about this incident but since I’m an in-the-closet gay man, I needed a platform where I could pen my story anonymously. I’m grateful Voice for Men India founder Arnaz Hathiram gave me the opportunity to write this piece for her portal.
Arvey’s story hits home. I can resonate a lot with what that poor kid went through. My experience wasn’t as traumatising as his, but I did suffer the bullying and name-calling by my classmates when I was in school. I was quite feminine as a kid and teen (and I still am, this time, unapologetic).
Masculine activities never intrigued me, rather I immersed myself in painting and other forms of arts, besides my above average academic credentials. I can’t even begin to tell how many times I have been called ‘Chhakka’, ‘Baila’ (a Marwari word for guy with girlish attitude) by my classmates, laughed on by both boys as well as girls. Barring a few friends who were genuinely good to me, rest were absolute nightmare to be around. They made me feel I was indeed from a different species who deserved to be humiliated.
In our school, we had Scout and Guide sessions once or twice a week, and I dreaded being part of them. I used to be surrounded by those bullies during the session because most of the time, they made fun of me, and I often felt like a misfit. I vividly recall one particular incident in school, when I was in 8th grade; our P.T teacher took us down to our assembly ground so that we could spend some free time playing football. I was a part of a boys group where the ball was being passed by everyone; when the ball came to me and when I had to pass forward; one of them, with sinister glee, shouted,
Yeh dekh ladki, ladki ball pass kar rahi hai…
That boy was notorious for bullying but others never took a stand against him because they were trying to develop thick skin as friends. Laughter erupted giving him company, I didn’t know how to react; that moment I felt the ground should’ve engulfed me completely or I just died immediately. It was one of the most horrifying moments of my life. I felt I was stripped by his words.
There was hardly any awareness regarding LGBT in the early 2000s and I myself had no idea who I was; I never complained to teachers about this hence they naturally couldn’t help.
Although, they empathised with me because the impression they had of me was of being an obedient and timid student, hence they made sure, in their personal capacity, that I was never left out.
DETESTED MY SCHOOL LIFE, BUT HAVE MADE MY PEACE
I detested my school life, even after having completed 10th grade, and joined junior college. I couldn’t forgive those classmates of mine who bullied me for years because they had played a big role in my diminishing self-esteem and how I perceived myself – as an abomination who should be ashamed for being different.
However, I was gradually coming to terms and one day, decided I can’t live with this anger anymore because I felt they deserve a second chance, after all, they were also teens who weren’t taught to filter right from the wrong, besides, parents rarely monitored their kid’s behavior in school and held them accountable; that was quite a norm those days. As the Buddhist proverbial goes, I was swallowing the charcoal to hurt others, but it was only hurting me. I gradually began to meet my school friends after many years, who also genuinely regretted their actions. It took time but eventually we all made peace with the past and moved on.
I could come out of this suffering because it wasn’t as bad and the people who bullied me showed remorse. However, not every survivor of bullying can forgive and rightly so. In most cases, bullying leaves psychological trauma on victims like Arvey; bullies are emboldened when not held accountable, repeat the offence, and are nasty to a great extent. Victims often slip into depression, and other mental health crises which affect them permanently, deteriorating not only their self-confidence, but also their ability to trust others and nurture friendships and relationships.
ITS NOT ALWAYS ABOUT SINGLE PARENTING
I’d come across comments suggesting the boy had feminine nature because he was raised by a single mother; while I do agree that single parenting (by either gender) does have an impact on a child’s psychological health but it’s not always the same in every case. I was raised by both mother and father, grew up in a heterosexual society, surrounded by straight people yet I’m gay. Just like one cannot forcefully feminize boys who are naturally masculine by nature, similarly, one cannot forcefully masculinize boys who are naturally feminine by nature. As long as they are not harming anyone, minding their own business, and trying to be a better person, we need to learn to live and let live.
Arvey Malhotra was a bright child; just like everyone, he had potential to make it big in life. But his classmates and School authorities murdered him, mentally, physically, sexually, systematically.
After 17-year-old Manav Singh’s death on May 2020, this incident broke my heart to smithereens. For life’s sake, we are in 2022; School premises are supposed to safeguard students from ragging and bullying and be sensitised about students having different personalities and abilities.
I genuinely hope Delhi Public School, Faridabad is made to pay a heavy price for their apathy shown towards Arvey and for unfairly suspending his grieving mother Aarti Malhotra, who is fighting a lone battle to give justice to her son.
TO ALL PARENTS – TEACH YOUR CHILDREN TO ACCEPT ALL AS THEY ARE
Bigger accountability lies in parents who have to ensure they raise their kids right. They can no longer take it lightly when their kids bully others in school. No, there is nothing normal if a child or teen is being harassed and assaulted to an extent of dying by suicide. They need to monitor their kid’s behavior and keep a check when they go astray.
I’m not suggesting parents should teach them about sexuality like the LGBT activists insist, but at least teach them to be kind to everyone irrespective of their different nature, be accepting not only in the class but also outside school premises and remind them that there shall be repercussions for behaving badly especially, when it causes harm to others.
Note: Author of this article chooses to remain anonymous, but surely wants to be a voice for many, who have suffered similar ordeal.
READ ARVEY MALHOTRA’S CASE
My 13-Year-Old Son Was Falsely Accused By His Female Classmate | Mother Speaks Up
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