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The Secret I Won’t Keep..

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Many a time, I scroll my Facebook wall, see my posts and tell myself, “Oh! My life is an open-book!” From posting myriad of status messages about trivial things to blogging about some earth-shattering topics, I’ve been constantly striving to record my life. Despite being self-expressive, I realised that I haven’t let a word out about a couple of incidents that have scarred me for life. I wanted to write about it when people came to roads to express their solidarity with the brave heart, who lost her life in the Delhi gang rape incident. I wanted to write about it when I read indefinite number of articles about young girls being molested. I wanted to write about it when girls were raped by their own family members. But there was an unknown force that stopped me from penning down my thoughts. Maybe, it was an apprehension about telling the world that I am a victim too. Perhaps, it took a tad too long for me to realise that the incident should not be kept personal anymore for it teaches a crucial lesson. Today, I understand that there is no shame in telling that ‘IT’ happened and the story has to be recounted.

**

When this incident occurred, I was about seven or eight and we were living in a place that’s considered the cultural hub of Chennai. It was a sultry evening. As I was used to spending time with my friends every evening, I was too bored that day since I couldn’t find any of them. We lived in a small lane and our house was the first one. To cope with boredom, I sang to myself and kept walking from one end to the other end of the lane. There weren’t many people in the lane on the day that it happened.

**

My mother was at home and she was chatting with a relative. I used to have long hair then and I vividly remember what I was wearing that day. A white colour hair band decorated my hair and I wore a long blue-colour frock. I was fatter and taller for my age and I was always considered older. I continued to walk in the lane for a while before I chose to ascend the staircase at one of the houses. As I was climbing the stairs, a man, who might have been in his early 40’s emerged from his house in the first floor. I had known the man because he was my neighbour, he was married to our family friend and his daughter was my sister’s friend.

**

Although I was a kid, I had observed my parents discussing this man’s behaviour. He was aloof and his wife was not happy with him. His daughter spoke with him only when she needed pocket money. That man led a ruined family. Nobody had seen him smile. But much to my surprise, as I was on the stairs, he grinned from ear to ear. I couldn’t see the evil in his smile. He descended a couple of steps to come close to me. Only God knows why I didn’t run away from him. Maybe, it was because I hadn’t seen a demon before. I was stationary there while he slipped his hand into my underclothes to feel one of the most personal belongings of a woman. Although his abuse went on for a few minutes, I didn’t seem to understand his idea.

**

He stopped suddenly. Perhaps, he heard footsteps or he generally feared being caught red-handed. As I turned to head home again, I realised that he had left a one-rupee coin in my underwear and that revolted me.  I ran back home and narrated the entire story to my mother, who fumed with rage. She employed profanity to the highest degree. She said to me, “You wait here! I will kill that man. How can he do this!” She ran to his house and willfully yelled so that everybody could hear. I wasn’t with my mother to learn what happened then. But she told me that he wouldn’t do that again and she said, “Next time, if somebody does that to you, you should tell me.” I understood what he did was just wrong and I was grateful to my mother for allowing me to bring it up if it happened again. Unlike others, she didn’t conceal it nor did she think it was shameful. However the understanding was not deep enough I suppose for it happened again and someone whom my family knew so well did it.

**

This relative of mine, who visited us quite often, abused me often in a subtle fashion. He was in college then. I presume he was around 20. He would come home to meet my parents, savour my mom’s food and to lie on my lap. While my parents thought he was just being extra-affectionate to me, little did they know. Despite knowing that he was being a little creepy, I succumbed to his fake affection. The kid didn’t understand her mother’s advice when she was abused the first time and so, she didn’t report it this time. He had to stop visiting us as he was getting busy with life and now I can’t envisage what he would have done to me if he had continued to come home.

**

Only when I was a teenager, I found out what they did was sexual abuse only after I attended an awareness program in school. I gained more insight only after I discussed it with my school-friends. Thankfully, after my relative, I didn’t fall in anyone’s trap. However, when discussions on ‘abuse’ happen, I tie my tongue to refrain from sharing my experiences for no valid reason. But today I asked a couple of questions to myself? By blogging about my nighmare, am I going to be judged? Am I going to lose anything? The answer is negative as I honestly don’t care anymore. And will this be of any help to people? Yes! I plead with all parents to be extra-cautious to save children from those, who succumb to carnal pleasures, to save children from being victimised and to save children from what might scar them for lives. We are certainly at a juncture where children have to learn about ‘touches’, gain knowledge about that we shyly utter ‘sex education’ and understand whom to trust. As it happened in my life, the perpetrator might come in the form of your neighbour, relative or best friend. But I certainly don’t suggest that no one should be trusted. Trust, as they say, should get better with time.
**
From boarding a bus to taking an elevator, women and children have been asked to be vigilant to ‘save’ themselves from the abusers. While I wholeheartedly loathe that concept of ‘being alert and learning to defend oneself’ (as I expect the scumbags to be put in their places), I also reckon that these kind of stories should come out more to show that it can happen to anybody and it can happen anywhere. I often tell myself ‘It happened to me and the perpetrator would suffer at the hands of Karma. However that gruesome act will never cow me down for I am bigger than all that. And if it happens again, I will be my own voice. It will not be part of my secret diary neither will I shed tears. But I will bring it to light.’ And that’s what I would love my female friends to do too. Although I’m trying not to be preachy here, I would still like to underscore the importance of bringing the wrongdoers to book and tearing their masks off.

**

What happened to me when I was a child might have scarred me, but it can never sabotage my trust in men for there are many gems, whom I have found a reason to respect.

**

Deepika Ramesh-Thirugnanasambandam lives in Chennai with her husband, parents, a canine brother and a canine daughter. She works as a journalist during the day to pay bills, buy treats for her fur babies and dreams full time to nourish her soul. She reads because it is the easiest route to escape from reality and she writes because she likes helping others escape too. As she firmly believes that ‘Man is just a collection of chemicals with delusions of grandeur’ (Thanks Ayn Rand), she chooses to love, smile, hate, read, write, help and see life pass by. She blogs at http://doubtfulwriter.blogspot.in/

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