This Happened 20 Years Ago To Me And It Changed My Life Forever: Today I'll Be Shameless
“And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.”
Someone in my office called out to say that the four of them have been sentenced to death by hanging. It took me more than a day to react to this bit of news. For a long time, I just sat scrolling through the various reports and reactions in various forums about the verdict. And all I felt was numbness.
Numb, not because I was wondering if that was the right decision but if hanging those beasts would do anything to stop rape or if that was enough justice for her.Share this quote
I was numb because it was the 25th anniversary of the day that changed my life forever. Somehow, that verdict was asking me to do something. I had to take an action because I was already running about 20 years late.
My aunt got married on the 5th of May. I was seven years old and it was one of the happiest days of my childhood. I was wearing a ‘Ghagra’ for the first time in my life. There was no one to stop me from eating what I wanted to eat. I was having the best time of my life! Little did I know that this incident would change me forever.
Like every new addition to the family, my uncle brought in a lot of excitement. He loved books, cracked very funny jokes and cooked amazingly well. What else would you need to get along with a Bengali family?
Things were going great. Until I hit puberty about 3 years later and my body started changing. Trips to my aunt’s house turned into a nightmare. If I ever made the mistake of lying down in that house to rest, or to sleep, and my aunt wouldn’t be around in the room, he would be on top of me – touching, groping and kissing.
The naive eleven year old me, not knowing what was going on would freeze at the spot. I wouldn’t move. In the hope that he would stop, in the fear, that if I moved, the pressure would increase, the pain would become more intense, the kisses would deepen.
If I stayed the night, I would invariably wake up to the pressure of his body on mine, touching places that made me feel so ashamed of existing that I couldn’t even shout. I was so scared that if I did anything, he would hurt my little sister sleeping beside me.
I couldn’t fathom why he would suddenly hate me so much as to do this to me. I didn’t know what I had done to deserve this.Share this quote
I didn’t tell a soul. Simply because I didn’t know what was happening. I blamed my body for it. Or something I might have done to piss him off. I didn’t even tell my dad, who would have killed him. This ordeal continued till my dad passed away two years later. After that, life became so tough that outings and trips got restricted. I stopped going to their house using this as an excuse. So the regular abuse stopped. What started was a feasting on my body through his eyes. I couldn’t even stay in front of him. All this happened while my aunt gave birth to their first daughter.
I spent sleepless nights thinking what if the little one was going to be hurt the same way, but couldn’t utter a word. Dad’s death had silenced me even more.Share this quote
I grew up living in my own dream world, where everything was fine in my head. I was unscathed and unblemished. Nothing had happened to me. But in the real world I couldn’t walk on the roads alone. If I ever sensed anyone following me, my heartbeats increased.
I would go blank with a severe sense of fear gripping me. If anyone groped me on public transport, I would freeze, not being able to react. If guys used filthy language to describe parts of my body, I would feel ashamed. I would cringe in disgust if I could spot lust in the eyes that looked at me.
I took up Sociology in my college. The day my professor taught ‘Child sexual abuse’, was the day the nineteen year old me understood what happened to me as a child. I still couldn’t speak about it.Share this quote
A classmate of mine did her dissertation on Child Sexual Abuse. I remember the storm inside me because I could not bring myself to become a respondent. I hated myself for that.
The first person to know about this was my then boyfriend. What a wrong choice! He used my low esteem to abuse me mentally and physically. He convinced me that he was a blessing as he had accepted me with my dark past, with all my flaws and despite being ‘imperfect'.
The day I broke up with him, he told me I won’t find anyone who would accept me as I am. I believed him, but I wasn’t bothered. I was twenty three.Share this quote
That night for the first time I spoke to my mother about my abuse. Her first reaction was, "Do not forget he is the father of your cousins and your aunt’s husband. Their marriage shouldn’t fall apart. These things happen to girls. Try to forget about it."
My mother has always been there for me. But that day and this statement created an ocean between us that I could never cross. It wasn’t probably what she wanted to say. But I will always remember it as what she said. I had stopped talking about it again. The fear of being followed on the road just increased. Not being able to react to the unwanted stares, touches and remarks on the road, in public vehicles and from him, continued.
I met him at least twice a month. During festivals, I had to touch his feet. Wish him for his birthday and cringe inside.Share this quote
Until one day, years later, that I chose to confide in a friend. That changed the way I looked at myself. I don’t know how she did it, how she had the patience to wait for me to open up or how she never hesitated to show me how the perverts should be dealt with. It took me a while, but I found my voice.
I started talking about my abuse. I started reacting to people who dared to touch me without my permission. I started looking straight into the lustful eyes – it made them uncomfortable.Share this quote
Ever since then, I have spoken about my abuse openly. Because every time I speak about it, feels like a slap on his face – something I want to do in reality. I don’t talk to him anymore.
Just the fact that this verdict came on the day he entered my family, makes me feel it’s time to bring the secret out in the open.Share this quote