31 May 2016

The Hands that killed my childhood

Why is she writing this all of a sudden, after so many years when she was so feeble to even utter a word about it? What would be the outbreak, if her family ever reads about it over a shared post? She still fears. Will it be just turned over and shuffled among the pages of a past book once again like she has been doing so long? Will a child's story be believed just the way she struggled to believe herself and silently kept on asking her own self to shut up? She ceases the internal debate to such countless parallel questions every now and then.

She does not write this to gain sympathy, which she should've gotten long back (if only they knew).
She doesn't write this to change anything now. Today she realises that she stands together with the many girls, ladies, little children, women who had the ill-fate of being victims of sexual abuse coming from the last place you expect. She writes this because yes, something still bites her even this very second, that why was she such a coward that very afternoon. She writes this for those parents, imploring them to not ask their children to tame this inside them alone for the sake of a respectful family bond. She writes this to be able to add a bit of bravery into those ladies, not to feel ashamed anymore.

It's a story that fate had written.

She writes this to  come out strong and strengthen each one like her, to help them vent out the pent up agony, so long latched within like a forbidden brute. Trust me ladies, we are indeed 'a woman's heart is a deep ocean of secrets', and there's no harm or shame to spill a few drops into the air. She writes this to mark that she no more fears to share this just like another dreadful experience of her childhood. She writes this to state, sexual abuse is different and sexual abuse by a family member  scars one for life. It'll be wrong to say that she hasn't had nightmares in these ten years of her growing up, but a recent nightmare vigorously spun her head back to that afternoon of 2006. It's quite inconceivable to have such sudden night visions of long lost stories, but they do appear in the dreams to haunt her down to that afternoon. These nightmares just  catapults her long stored anguish day by day as she herself matures more.

She had lost her grandfather in a stroke, when she was in the fourth standard. There was a 15 day ritual which of-course had to be performed with all the family members and relatives huddling together. She clearly regrets that one afternoon of her life, when she had to be left alone with her elder sister and her distant-related brother at her aunt's place. She doesn't share a blood line with that brother, but just a close relative who helped her uncles to run the family business. When she was even younger, he used to be her all time favourite, always making a point to have her bubble with happiness by buying her all the favourite chocolates, toys and chips. He would secretly rescue her from Ma's scolding and pick her up all time and play. He was a distant brother she silently boasted about and loved so dearly until that afternoon, when she wished to tear him apart cell by cell. He got married a year before grandpa left them, and by that time he was already a father of a 3 month old boy. That afternoon both of them lay together side by side on the bed under the same blanket, because apparently she was left under his care. While he was busy surfing through his phone, she was enjoying his company and reading a book. Something drew him closer to her, a picture of his infant son in his phone which he wanted to show her. She was so excited to have a glance at her little nephew. Little did she know what the next few minutes had in store for her excitement to see a picture.

A hand slid down under the blanket along the thighs tickling her enough to laugh. Too little to still understand what was going to chance upon. Her attention was withdrawn every second with unending smiling pictures of a little boy. For the first time, she was perplexed. Eyeballs which were just fixed on the phone screen, body stiff with coldness, too numb to even say a word aloud. One of his hands kept her distracted with his phone while two fingers of the other probed into that part where Ma told none should ever touch. With just the only feeling of experiencing physical discomfort, she removed his hand and created a hand away distance. Reluctant, oblivious he drew himself nearest to allow her play games in his phone, as she loved that all the time. She held the phone, but her mind was latched down there, locked within his fingers. As if two devil's eyes were forcing her to play the game quietly and bear with the pain. This time as the fingers dug deep inside a tear rolled down unknowingly.

"Why is he rubbing me?" her mind shivered.

"Why is his eyes closed" her eyes blinking with tears.

"Doesn't he know he shouldn't touch me there?" her brother should understand she felt.

It was a bizarre physical sensation that snatched the breath out of her lungs right away .Unbearable with the pain and predicament of whatever was going on, she quickly sat up: "Didi'r kaachey jaabo ami" was her only saviour that afternoon. Her teary eyes were met with a smirk of his lips.

He never uttered a word about it ever after that moment, as if nothing happened ever. Probably because he knew, that this story will be locked down within her forever, that she didn't even understand what had actually gone through her. Running to the washroom was all she could do then, washing her part by and by, as if that would have washed away the imprints of his fingers forever. No afternoon sleep could spare her from what just happened. In the evening, she confined to her sister about what had happened. Didibhai hugged her, didibhai had burst into tears to just confess that she has been the victim of worse cases in the hands of the same person, and that she felt sorry that she couldn't do anything about it. One was 10 years old while the other 12 years. They were their only healer, both scared stiff to tell that to any elder. Their instincts told them to talk about this, to talk about that but never to talk about what happened. Both grew up burying that afternoon and many such afternoons under ashes until one day when she told her mother. Too late to do anything, too complex to accuse one suddenly, all she did was regret, hug her and cry. The sisters didn't mind, because they knew, no time, no amount of thrashing, no amount of consolations, no amount of regrets can restore the dignity that sank low with the hands lowering itself down.

How could she do anything? What mattered actually? It took her a few years to digest that what was happening was an abuse. It's very easy to look back as an adult and curse oneself for failing, all the missed opportunities that could have broken that silence, but she was no less than a confused child back then. Physical discomfort was the only string that played her mind. She had to suffer post traumatic stress within herself.

Many children of family abuse will not report it because they believe that the knowledge will devastate their parents. Therefore, the children stay silent in order to protect their parents - and again this can carry on into adulthood. Furthermore, there may be the belief that this truth would be too hard for their parents to bear, and so they would not believe the disclosure. There are nightmares or dreams where the little child as a grown up lady is avenging Him, well they are just extensions of the deeply desired, unattainable wishes of life.  Till date whenever she's met with him in family gatherings, she over-looks him as someone invisible. He never complains about it, rather ignores too. The present reality is unaware of what had happened a decade back but the eyes whenever meet, draws that afternoon amidst the silence.

I wish I could have been stronger earlier and never be ashamed. I still feel dirty after all these years. I’ve tried to block the abuse out of my head, but with sudden dreams and nightmares , it all  comes flooding back. I keep thinking about the thousands of young girls who are still being abused and who never speak out. And the ones who tried to tell people in authority what was happening but are afraid of being disbelieved. I still  feel sick now that I allowed my abuser to get away with what they did. A large part of why I didn’t tell someone elderly, because coming from a large-complex family background, I bore the idea that everyone should think I am a normal, family lover. However, I share this because I eventually discovered that I am not the only one, and that perhaps (as in, at some point) I could stop holding myself accountable for this event.

Forgetting and forgiving isn't my ultimate goal for healing anymore, but to save other victims, to make them feel okay after all this times. If you're reading this and if you have been even remotely associated with such menace, I want to say, "It's alright dear, you didn't cause it neither you deserved it, come out strong, don't label it as a hidden hurt".

Fear and regret are everlasting, unless you stand up against them.

Confession by :- Shreya Basak.

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