They say keep toxicity away from your life but I feel we girls are magnets to toxicity. You never know how badly bruised you are until you stand in front of the mirror and witness each wound. And yes people bruise you in ways others might think it’s even okay to bruise you. But these bruises these wounds are deeply rooted and in roots there are leeches. I still am oblivious about what the source of toxicity in my life was. But before getting into that academy everything seemed okay. The very first day to that academy I wore a simple half-sleeved top and jeans. What else was I supposed to wear in 42 degrees? The day went quite well however at the end the teacher asked me to sit as he wanted to talk to me. The first thing he said baffled me but I just nodded my head. “Look Anee I have an environment to keep and you have to wear full sleeves otherwise others would complain about it,” I thought that was enough but then he added “and you have to cover your head” I was 12 years old back then. That day was the day when the hurricane struck my small boat from sailing in the open sea. My teacher used to wear half sleeves all summer but here I was supposed to keep my arms my head covered why? I was just a child. When my teacher saw that I wasn’t going to obey him, he buried seeds of hatred in my brother’s mind and the next thing I knew I was lectured at home. I still don’t know why it was such a hard thing to accept that I don’t cover my head in this heat. But who heard me when there is a teacher who knew what was better for me? In our countrymen seem to have ways to make women obey them. And once they know that you are obeying they take hold of you like a minion. The same happened to me. After the covering head moves my teacher demanded me why don’t you start doing a veil as well. As he thought it’s not appropriate for a 12-year child to walk from home to academy with her face visible to all men. That demand triggered me like a time bomb for he was forcing his attire on me and what was I supposed to do? He wanted to force the attire he thought was suitable upon me. Every day the teacher made sure to add toxins to my life with his teachings. “Don’t make eye contact, don’t laugh in public, don’t move with head held high, wear full sleeves, and don’t wear jeans” the teachings never came to an end. The teacher didn’t only try to control the lives of girls within the walls of the academy but we were followed by him outside as well. A measure to make sure where we went. One day Ayesha (my academy fellow and neighbor as well) and I after getting free from academy went to the supermart near our academy. We leisurely bought snacks to eat on the way home. It was all good until our teacher walked in the store. Ayesha and I didn’t know what to do. We just knew we had to hide. We started hiding among the aisles. In the end to save ourselves from him we hid in the storage room. Writing this sounds funny. Perhaps it is funny but only Ayesha and I know what horror we felt. It was like we were fighting to survive while the world was about to end. Sometimes thinking about that day I pity myself, for who was he to define my boundaries? But unfortunately, this is what happens with women in this country where people define the boundaries of our lives. People define how we must sit. How we must talk. Why can’t I define my boundaries? Am I not a whole human being? I have no right to my choices? My teacher was so deeply rooted in my brain and I barely even noticed it. The day I couldn’t make eye contact with my class fellows and family I was struck by some train for it was fed to my system that I must not make eye contact. This is not a move to empower anyone. This demand clearly was to break my courage and my confidence and unfortunately, my teacher succeeded in doing so. Cause I didn’t have the courage to do it even after years. Still, need to courage to walk with head held high. I still ask myself, do we have a charter of teachings for men as well? No! Then why for the woman? Is it because men think we are easy to control or because they think they are God. Only God can control our lives and it’s a miserable fact that men are the God in our society. They define my freedom. Their ascent towards the horizon is determined by how much they suffocate a woman. The day Ayesha started wearing burka because our teacher wouldn’t stop telling her that her dupatta is short for her grown body, my teacher came with a new demand “Inshallah, Anee will start wearing one soon” and that was the moment I wanted to scream and yell at him that “this is my life”. When I went home I wanted to assure myself that he won’t make me wear a burka as well. I knew that I need to make my move at that moment or he’ll contaminate my sanity with his toxins to the point of no return. I needed to fight the leeches he planted in my system. So as a rebel the very next day I started wearing jeans. I still remember the look on my teacher’s face. I still remember how my brothers’ friends used to say that “his sister doesn’t even cover her head”. But beyond all these, I remember how every teacher showed me the way to hell just for wearing jeans. God is so small that he can’t even grant me the freedom to wear what I wish to. What we don’t understand here is that God is not small, Men are small, their minds are small and their small minds can’t grant others the freedom to live their life by their own standards. My teacher tried every day to bring me back to the state where he controlled me but I knew it that if I bowed down to his wishes now I won’t ever be able to stand up for myself. This is just a part of my life and it breaks me to say that we women have so many such parts in our lives. But I am ashamed to say men in Pakistan contaminate the lives of women in ways they never even notice. Forcing your ideas and your order upon someone’s life is a crime. These toxins and leeches they plant in our systems should be killed. These leeches that “we cannot do this” growing in our systems must be crushed and killed. Claustrophobic is the word I would use to describe the life of a girl in our environment. At every step in our lives the small space we are enclosed in shrinks because someone steps inside our space and then we have to squeeze ourselves. Suffocate ourselves so the other person trying to step in our little territory may breathe. Ultimately that person not only suffocates us but also intoxicates our space. In our country, women suffer from harassment to rape, child marriage to honor killing, forced standards to acid attacks and gender discrimination to criticism in professional life. Sometimes I think why don’t men face such issues? And when women march about these issues men have the audacity to raise their voice against it. I wonder why men are mute when it comes to young girls being raped, forcefully converted and sacrificed in the name of love and honor. Their voices only make their way out of their throat when they see women with their wings strong enough to fly. This proves that in our country we don’t even want to give women the right to protest about her problems.