When was the last time you were naked for the joy of it? It can nourish your life more than you imagine!
As adults, we only ever think of nakedness as a means to achieve an end. Undressing is something we *do* to our bodies to be able to have sex, clean ourselves, or change into an outfit. In most cases we grab our clothes back on in a hurry, keenly aware that nakedness is a transitory state; something to be left behind in private. But is it possible to allow ourselves to be naked, away from the sterile bathroom tiles and the hush of a locked bedroom?
So one day, I decided to shed my clothes and let my naked body wander through the entire house, instead of the usual closed room. Though social restrictions still limited me to the privacy of home, there was still something exhilarating in exploring nakedness as an end of its own, something that can be enjoyed as it is.
It made me feel independent, like the entire house belonged to me and I could express myself however I wanted to, in any room I pleased. I hopped on my toes eagerly and the cold granite sent tingles through my body. I felt as free as a naked child, one who had not yet experienced the cloying gaze of a society that demanded that she cover up. But at the same time, I was entirely aware of my sexuality. The air was cold on my skin, and I could feel a rush of sensations swirling down there. My body was mine and mine alone, naked without an audience and comfortable in its natural state.
The last time I allowed myself to be naked like this was 16 years ago. I was only 19 back then, on a study break. The summer heat raged at an unbearable 42 degrees. I didn’t have an AC, and soon my clothes were drenched with sweat. I patted some talcum powder on myself for relief, but it mixed with my sweat and caked uncomfortably on my skin.
The afternoon was thick and hot. The corridor outside carried the landlord’s snores into my room. I gingerly crept over to her room and saw that she was sunk in a deep slumber. My roommates had gone out for a movie and I realised I was all alone in the hostel. I indulged myself in a long bath, but as soon as I stepped back into my room, the heat was upon me again.
Heat crawled beneath my polyester salwar kameez. Restless, I flung my dupatta away. I sat on my bed and suddenly felt a slow urge rising through me. Almost reflexively, I tugged the drawstring of my salwar and let it fall. It lay as a pool of colorful fabric around my ankles. My hands froze. Could I go any further? I knew that no one would knock at the door for a while, but I was still afraid. Even in a closed room, the thought of being naked was daunting.
In most cultures across the world, the bathroom and the nuptial bed are the only places where a woman can undress. And this bed was neither.
I was in an uncertain space, away from the clean lines of social norms and permitted leniencies. But the humidity was closing in on me, and I caved into this new temptation. I slipped out of my kameez, unfastened my bra and quickly tossed my clothes into the corner. Lying on my bed, I closed my eyes at first, because I almost couldn’t bear to look at the raw, unrestrained fluidity of my naked body. It had been so long since I was in touch with what my body really felt like. I felt a dam open up in me, a sudden joy flowing through me like a clean, fresh river. The relief was unparalleled. I wondered why it was so difficult to accept the natural state of our bodies. I shut my eyelids. Still naked, I slowly drifted off into sleep that afternoon.
It has been years since then and today I’m more confident than I ever was. The last 16 years didn’t offer me opportunities to spend time with my nakedness, simply because of the lack of solitude. But I still had a past precedent and that can be a powerful thing. And this time, unlike the last, I shed my clothes with no hesitation and went about my daily chores. What joy! What an experience.
While clothes carry their own possibilities, nakedness is something special. The layers we clothe ourselves with are made not just of fabric, but of complex culture and history. It is the baggage of civilization- of modesty, gender and morality that we drape over ourselves every morning. When we shed clothes and make peace with our bodies, we are instantly shedding so much more. Years of conditioning can slip away for a few moments, like the conditioning that teaches us that our natural bodies are immodest, dirty, vulgar and essentially something to be hidden away.
With all the importance that is attached to modesty and the female body, allowing oneself to be nude can be a truly radical act. To strip my body clean of all these expectations and norms was not just freeing, but also rebellious. The baggage of society and morality lifted cleanly from my mind, and I felt a pure lightness spread through my soul. So go ahead- immerse yourself in nakedness, and discover not just the raw vulnerability of your body, but also that of your soul.