People ask me, why don't I want to get married like other girls? Why haven't I dated anyone till date? Why do I find it difficult to fall asleep every night?
I’m going to answer these questions today but before that let me ask you a question.
Can you imagine how it feels to live your life in the constant fear of being sexually exploited? Do you know the guilt of not being able to take a stand for yourself since the age of 5?
It has been more than 18 years since it first happened and I am still struggling to be normal.
I am a 24-year-old girl from West Bengal. I did my schooling in another state as my father was employed there. My family and I would travel to Bengal during my summer vacations.
During one such trip, we were returning from Bengal when we met an old uncle whose grandson was the same age as me, i.e. 5 years old. I found the uncle to be very loving as I saw him affectionately taking care of his grandson. My parents were also very impressed with him after seeing the way he cared for his grandson.
While interacting with him, I grew fond of him as he was very sweet just like my grandfather. That is where I mistook his lust for love.
At night, when everyone in the compartment was asleep, I felt slightly uncomfortable. My eyes were closed but I could feel someone’s hands touching me inappropriately all over my body.
I was just 5! How could have I possibly understood what was happening with me? I was so scared.
That’s when my father woke up and I too quickly opened my eyes. I requested my father to exchange his seat for mine. But that was the biggest mistake I did!
I shifted to the lower berth, thus giving him easy access to another exploitation!
After a few minutes, I again felt someone's touch and this time it was even more inappropriate. He was touching my private parts! I was shattered. I didn't know how to react.
I was motionless and started sobbing silently. He became more violent. Suddenly, I jerked his hands and got up. He then had the audacity to ask me if I wanted to go to the toilet with him.
What a jerk! I simply refused. I was shivering with fear. I reached home and cried uncontrollably. I couldn't say anything to anyone.
I have spoken about this incident to anyone else. But that was just the beginning of my exploitation.
The next time that it happened was at the hands of my own relative. I felt really disgusted!
I couldn't say anything to my parents as I feared that he would manipulate them and they wouldn’t believe me. I was 8 years old then.
Then, a person whom I called ‘bhaiya’ exploited me. Little did I know of his intentions when I went to clear my study related doubts to him. He grabbed me and pushed me. I was shouting and continuously telling him that I would tell my father.
But he was so cheap and shameless that he said, “Go and tell whomever you want to. I am not afraid of anyone and no one is going to believe you.”
I kicked his ass and ran out of his place. But he stayed in the same colony and whenever we'd cross paths, he would smile wickedly at me. I was so helpless.
I didn’t have the courage to tell anyone about this incident either. I was 11 years old then.
When I was 13, my tuition teacher exploited me. He was an evil man. He would call me with my book and make me stand next to him. Then, in front of everyone, he would put his hand near my breast and press it hard. I can't even describe how painful it was.
Somehow, I managed to escape from that evil person after being exploited several times. I was 13 years old then.
There were several times when I was molested even after this incident. After class 12, I got admission in one of Kolkata’s reputed colleges. During the initial days, I stayed far from college and had to travel by train every day.
On one such day, I was travelling in a super fast express and couldn't find a seat to sit. That’s when my uncle spotted me and offered me a seat.
I was sitting between two other uncles. After a while, I could feel hands touching me inappropriately from both the sides.
I got up from my seat but my uncle (who had no idea what was happening to me) asked me to sit down. And the exploitation continued. I was numb and couldn't move.
Ultimately, I gave both of them an angry look and that was enough. They got off at the next station. That day, I cried like a baby.
I felt so dirty. I felt angry with myself because I couldn't do anything. I was 17 years old then.
There were several incidents that happened even after that day and I faced them without uttering anything.
But today, I'm strong enough to handle these perverts. Whenever someone tries to touch me or do anything inappropriate, I fight back.
I have learned that until and unless we speak about such misdeeds, they will keep happening and such people will continue to get stronger.
These situations have made me a different person today. Now I find it very difficult to trust people, so much so that I am scared to even get married.
I can't sleep in trains for even a second. It still takes me hours to fall asleep every day as the memories haunt me.
However, on the positive side, I have become a strong person. I take a stand for every girl who I feel is going through the same thing that I did. I’ve also learned to move on and find happiness in small things.