Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sex and the Schoolboy

I looked up from my textbook. Harpreet, a gangly boy with a conspicuous red turban, was the only other student in the classroom. And he was talking to me.

"Do you know where babies come from?"
"What?"
"How babies come into the world?"
"From the stomachs of women"
"Yes, but before that"
"God puts them there"
"You are just a child," Harpreet sneered.

He looked around and then whispered in my ear.
"You have to put your pee-pee in a woman's pee-pee"
"Are you crazy?"
"Sex, they call it sex"

Pee-pees were usually an uncomfortable topic but I sat there transfixed by this revelation.

I had never felt the need to explore the origins of tiny little things that bawled at odd hours.

Someone (the nanny? a playmate? I don't remember) once told me that God put his finger in women's belly buttons and made babies grow. I had believed it. It never struck me why men didn't have babies -- after all, they too had belly buttons.

Suddenly, now it all made sense.

Harpreet looked triumphant. He had imparted forbidden knowledge to another human being.

"Today, you are all grown-up," he said, scratching the front of his red turban. "Now you know the secret."

I don't remember much about that day in the classroom. But this first conversation about sex seems to be imprinted in my mind.

It was years later that we had our first formal sex-education class. We had learned much more by then and the sex therapist who was invited to school had little new to tell us.

At the end of the session, he picked up chits from a bowl in which students had been invited to pose anonymous questions. And there was one question which stumped even the instructor.

"The hair on my head is growing like my pubic hair. Please help."

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