My uncles were just boys when I was born. They were the first boys that came to my life. Now twenty years later, as I am struggling to write about what I think of boys, I still think of them. Being a girl, I cannot help thinking about boys in contrast to my kind. Ever since I can remember they have been a part of my life, as cousins, as sibling, as uncles, as friends, as lovers.
As a kid, boys made me think of skinny kids who ran around, bullied others and did not seem to care if their feet got muddy. They fell and had scratches and bruises while I worried about the stain on my dress. Growing up, I was the kind that thought about life, emotions and aims, so the ‘rowdy’ boys never even crossed my minds. There was one phase though, when all girls sat around, in guise of playing truth or dare, talked about boys. Maybe that is when I started thinking of them as subjects of contemplation.
Boys are of different kinds, kind of hard to generalize. They are protective, want to be our guardian, try to pay our bills, grab a chair for us or maybe they just reflect what the society thinks they do. They have evolved through millions of years of outdoor hunting and living, so I understand they are interested in sports and all things dangerous. But I am saddened by how those poor creatures with shy eyes have to undermine their feelings for the sake of the traditional stereotypical image of their kind.
Some of them are the bullying kind, the ones who try to force themselves into others. They do as they feel, mostly motivated by the urge to conquer. Their evolution is clearly seen in them. They want to conquer, to hunt weak creatures down, to protect what’s theirs and to constantly expand their horizon. Listening to others is like bending one’s head. They are their mother’s favorites. Always loved but seldom understood the way they want to be understood. So they grow restless, try things, try to belong to a larger group, be the leader if possible. And one day, they fall in love.
They fall for a kind different than theirs, a kind that possesses traits that they lack and features that they want. Now comes a time of contest for them. This contest can transform them in the most dramatic way possible; they either become the best form of themselves or the unimaginably worse one. I have personally and very recently encountered a similar case. Boys after getting what they want are happy boys. Boys not getting fair share of what they deserve are a nightmare.
Of all things, the fact that it is mostly boys who fall prey to the addictions of drugs and drinks is the most disturbing for me. I have a younger brother and all I worry about him is if he might get into one of such addictions. Well, I know how to help him curb most of his needs in the right way. I have made sure he pursues his interests, belongs to a sports group, is not forced with his studies, gets a hug every now and then and is told how much he matters to the people who love him. But still, the lingering thought about boys in general and their addiction with drugs and cigarettes shoot me down every time I see him hanging out with others of the lot.
And as I started this narrative of mine with, boys remind me of my uncles. Images of young, shy guys full of energy and ideas and with a lack of finance or any such support run through my head. Boys who love their people and the closest they get to confessing is when you swallow chewing gum and they run around to the clinic, carrying you on their back. Boys who can arrange a group visit to a foreign nation but who cannot look into their father’s eyes while speaking. Boys who solve mechanics and electrics but cannot find one pair of matching socks. This was the first and I must confess a very traditional conception of boys that I had harbored since I was small. Now times have changed, I have read, listened to and experienced a lot of things; the way I think about boys has changed too. Boys are no longer the shy and smart brother figures anymore.
Be it the mass killing of classmates in US, gang rape of girls in India and Nepal, terror spread around the world by ISIS and other such groups, I see young boys doing things that make us wonder if humanity really exists. Boys who in the need of wanting to belong, in the need of a purpose, in the need of something to do in life get caught up with things that turn to destroy them. Boys who must have suffered due to their parent’s separation, boys who might have been bullied, boys who might have been victims of sexual abuse or harassment, who incapable of burying the pain of it all, thrust it out for the world to see, in the form of rage and violence.
Boys as I think are merely humans at the end of it all. They might have evolved like that, not showing their emotions or being strong, but the changing times have to have their effect on them too. Boys cannot just pull a trigger now owing to their pains. They need to play it cool, need to do what is right, and ask for help. They, I agree, are getting less attention but they have to find ways to gain it the right way.
Shreya is a student at Kathmandu University School of Law.