How can a 13-year-old girl forget the moment she woke up, startled, in the middle of the night, with someone’s tongue forcing its way into her mouth. And can you imagine the speed of her beating heart when she realized that it was her own father?
Yes, you read this right. I’m that 13-year-old girl, now 24, and still struggling with the brutal memories of that night.
I used to have this theory, that memories can be replaced. Like if a song reminds you of someone or something, then instead, play that song when something good is happening in your life. To replace the memories. To almost reprogram your brain, your heart, your emotions. But sadly, and I say this from experience, this theory fails here. Every time someone touches me, the memory of my father sends shivers down my spine. I feel like screaming. I guess I wish I did that, that night. But I kept my mouth shut, or rather, he kept my mouth shut.
The next morning, he was sitting there, smiling at the breakfast table, and looked me in the eyes when he asked me, “Beta, did you sleep well last night?”. I had absolutely no idea how to answer that question: with rage? Anger? A slap in his face? Or a smile of mine to ignore the question?
I smiled and ignored it. It was that day when I learned to hide my pain behind a smile. Sadly, that wasn’t the last time an incident like this happened. It happened to me, my older sister.. but we protected our little sister. That’s the least that we could have done.
I know a lot of questions are running through your mind right now: Like why didn’t we speak to our mother? Or raise our voices against him? Or go to an NGO? The police? Anyone? But answer this one question: Who can you trust, when your own father touches you in places that haven’t fully developed? When the one man who is the reason for your existence on earth, tries to f**k you?
My sister and I never let him, of course, he fought to try, but we always fought back. He would touch our breasts and always tell us to stay still, while he would do the rest. Can you imagine hearing this from your own father? No, I’m sure you can’t. And it’s inexplicable. We were lucky because he used to stay with us only once a week. I always tried my best to stay awake the whole night and kept the lights on. I told my parents that I have to study.
Because I knew that if the lights were turned off, that monsters hand would enter my blanket. At 13 or 14, what do you expect a girl to do? Scream loudly or fight back, like an independent woman? Or run to my mother, screaming that her husband tried to f**k me?
My mother would have died if she found out about this, I’m sure of it. She wouldn’t have been able to forgive herself. I was scared to lose her. So, at 13, I kept quiet. I avoided being alone with him and I tried my best to replace those memories with something pleasant. But there’s nothing.
I’m 24, shifted cities because of work, but I still can’t sleep at night. When I go home, every two or three months, I don’t allow my father to even hug me. He knows why, so he doesn’t even try. All those nights, play on a loop in my mind: those sleepless nights, that small girl trying to sleep and those monstrous hands approaching my body. All I did was avoid and try my best to stay safe.
I have always heard that fathers are supposed to be their daughter’s superheroes; always there to protect. But who can protect you from your own father? From the poisonous memories that he’s left me with?
Today, people call me rude and cold. They say I don’t let them in. I don’t blame them, but I don’t think I will ever be able to do that. Every time I see my father’s face, at social gatherings or family events, I feel a hole in my chest. A hole that’s created by silent screams.
Some of you will not be able to digest this. But it’s a true story, no one can make up something as vile as this. What I have shared, is a censored version of what happened. This is my reality. They say you are what your past makes you, and I don’t know what this makes me.
When I see hashtags like #papakipari #papamyhero or #papamybestfriend it makes me want to throw up. I’m left with a deep longing in my heart. A wish to replace those horrible memories with something that will actually let me sleep properly, without the nightmares. I can’t remember the last time I’ve slept, soundly, fearlessly… and I’m tired now.