Blog / How Was Growing Up In A Land At War With Itself

How Was Growing Up In A Land At War With Itself

12.02.2024 | Bhaswati Roy

Here’s a story for you:  “Around the age of 7, there was an evening I remember well. My father was running late coming back from work. He usually comes home by 8 in the evening. It was past 11, and he wasn't home. He didn't inform us that he'll be late either. My father was a Hotel Manager in our town’s best and only hotel. And it was common in our place to get kidnapped if you were even remotely well-known. Maa, who is usually calm in challenging situations, was panicking crazy. Some of our closest relatives came over soon. But around 12:30, Baba showed up. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief. The following morning, my parents decided to talk about it with me and my elder sister. We found out that some terrorist organizations were threatening Baba that they’d kidnap him if his boss didn't give them the demanded money. The discussions had been going on for a month. One day, my father was asked to visit a location where they planned to kidnap him. Even though my father knew very well what could happen, he thought it would be wise to go and talk to them first. But luckily, he went to the wrong location, waited for more than an hour, and came back.”  
 
I was born in the year 2000 in a terror-driven town of Kokrajhar. It wasn't the best time to be there, as I realized years later after stepping into Bangalore. This incident has been my family’s funny yet legendary story for years. But my childhood stories weren’t similar to most of my friends outside Assam. This particular story became the catalyst for uncomfortable conversations. Some felt bad for me, and some couldn't process it at all. Then it hit me: what we found funny, what we called normal, was far from it. 
 
The first decade of the 21st century was a rough time for Kokrajhar. Things got really bad in 2003 when hell broke out. People got hurt, villages burned, and many had to leave their homes. It wasn't just fights on the street, either. People were taken against their will, others were hurt terribly, and some were even killed. This phase lasted for quite a while. 
 
Just as we thought an inch of normalcy was returning, three coordinated bomb blasts ripped through crowded marketplaces in Kokrajhar, in 2008. The explosions left many either killed or injured. They chose a festive day to do the deed. 30th Oct 2008 was also Bhaidooj. 
 
But it didn’t end there. This particular attack was followed up by multiple instances of violence. We have seen days of long curfews, important exams getting postponed, and dead bodies all around. We have been cut off from the world multiple times. Some families had to go through these times without food. But we never knew the gravity of what we were actually facing. 
 
Growing up, my family was conservative. And the situations outside didn’t help the case. We weren’t allowed outside post-sunset without elders, make many friends, participate in events, etc. Even if we made friends, they were supposed to come to our house if they wanted to hang out. Not many kids of my age liked that. My sister was not allowed to wear jeans until the age of 19. And this is just the tip of the iceberg.  
 
We slowly started becoming introverts, but not out of choice. When we moved to the real world, even socializing for work became difficult. We understood that we weren’t just introverts. I was diagnosed with extreme social anxiety and later Bipolar Disorder stage 2.  
 
I didn’t want the shadows of my past to engulf my future. I must admit it wasn’t easy to let go of a lot of things. Even now when I look back, I cannot believe the little girl from some small, isolated town of Assam, is living independently.  
 
Growing up in a town choked by terror isn't like flipping through a happy childhood album. The constant threat of violence - kidnappings, bombs, whispers of worse. It leaves scars, not just on the skin, but on how you see the world. Laughter might echo with past anxieties, every knock: a potential threat. Fear becomes a shadow you can't outrun, shaping how safe you feel, who you trust, and even what feels ordinary. It's a burden heavier than childhood should bear, weaving its way into who you are, year after year. But from the ashes of fear, something else can bloom: resilience, a sharper awareness of others' pain, a fierce determination to never let the shadows win. The town may fade, but its mark remains, shaping you in ways you might not even realize. 
 
If you or somebody you know is needs help to deal with complex issues that they faced during thier childhood, consider reaching our ‘Support’ and ‘Engage’ verticals for affordable and inclusive help! 
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