|A man I love
story by Zahra Dhanani /
Jun 28 2001
He changed my life. The sweetest face and the most beautiful spirit. Just by being, he transformed me. On Feb 14, 1994 my nephew Riyan was born.
I had spent most of my life up until he was born not wanting to have anything to do with men. I thought because of my experiences with them to that point, that all men were evil, violent, selfish and disgusting human beings. I didn’t choose to hang out with men, and found they were only worthy of being preached at (I really didn’t want to hear anymore of what they had to say).
When my sister got pregnant I said to her, "I really hope your child is a girl because I don’t know if I will be able to love it as much if it is a boy." When it came to men, I really believed that there was something inherently wrong with them — that disease contained in the penis part.
As the day came close for my eldest sister to give birth, I felt the excitement well up inside. It was unbearable. I wanted this beautiful baby girl to be born for me to pass on all the teachings I never received, about self-esteem and self worth. I just knew the baby would be a girl, and I was going to shower her with all the love that I could muster.
The day he was born I was living in Ottawa and got the call, "It’s a boy!" At first, I was bouncing off the walls, calling all my friends, just completely thrilled that the baby was born. Immediately I was on the bus back to Toronto. While on the bus it started to dawn on me that my sister had had a boy and not a girl. I started to get uneasy. All my experiences with men visited me in quick memory flashes. My heart sank.
I started to get very scared of what I thought our relationship was going to be like. I started imagining my nephew beating up girls in the playground and then later joining fraternities and beating up girls — in a different way. I started imagining having nothing in common with him, and in fact not having a relationship with him.
I got to Women’s College Hospital and I could feel my knees shaking and my heart pounding. I got off the elevator and was embraced by my jubilant family members. Prepared for the worst, I asked to see the baby.
My mother led me into my sister’s room. They were both asleep, but the moment I saw him, all of my fear, all of my hate, all of my prejudice melted away. All I could feel was my heart bursting. I reached down for him and held him in my arms, and in that moment my life was changed forever.
He was so pure, so sweet and so innocent. Soft brown skin, little black curls on top of his head, and the smallest fingers I had ever seen. I held him in my arms for what seemed like hours. This was my first experience of beautiful male energy. This was the first time that I had ever experienced pure unadulterated unconditional love.
This first meeting with Riyan has led me to some of my deepest healing around the violence that I have experienced. I was taught in this moment how beautiful and loving men could be. In this moment, I opened my heart from where it had been closed for many years.
Riyan is now seven and he continues to teach me about sweetness, innocence and beauty. In one moment and now seven years, this soft, kind, caring, sensitive boy, collapsed all my generalizations about men.