A letter

Dear Reader,
I wish to remain hidden by anonymity to protect myself from the sympathy/
judgement that you may or may not feel for me when you read this. I am someone, who walks through the hollow sphere that is the OPD building, buys overpriced Maggi from the Nescafe kiosk, falls asleep in class on a regular basis. I am one of you, in many
respects; and most of you had happy normal childhoods. Guess that’s where we differ. I was 8 years old when I was sexually abused for the first time, something that went on for 6 years.
I do not say this with bitterness. Well there is some bitterness, because after all I’m human. It’s more looking back with regret and a whole lot of envy. I have been repeatedly told that one has to give up jealousy to be truly happy. I don’t know if that will ever happen, but believe me I am insanely jealous of anyone who didn’t have to go through what I went through. But alongside that jealousy, there is immense happiness. You didn’t have to feel the same pain or the same low self-worth. You don’t constantly feel ‘it’s-your-fault-stop-making-the-same-mistakes’. And you don’t have to go about feeling,” I cannot truly trust someone enough to be vulnerable, ever.”
A little background maybe a helpful. I am 90’s kid, who up until the age of 15 lived in a joint family in a big, rambling house with 11 other people. I don’t have really great parents; a naïve mother, busy being the stereotypical Indian daughter-in-law and a father who cared more about his business than his family. I mean, it did make it possible for me to afford the many things I own today, but when you are 7-8, attention is what you crave. And that is exactly how I fell into the whole mess.      The house was perhaps the perfect place to play hide-&-seek, and for the posse of children who called it home, the game was an everyday exercise. It was during one such game that I hid under the bed in one of our guest bedrooms. I was breaking the rules by hiding in that room since my dad’s cousin was living there, studying at a university in the city, and incidentally was supposed to be preparing for an exam. My grandfather had told us not to disturb him, and before the

The house was perhaps the perfect place to play hide-&-seek, and for the posse of children who called it home, the game was an everyday exercise. It was during one such game that I hid under the bed in one of our guest bedrooms. I was breaking the rules by hiding in that room since my dad’s cousin was living there, studying at a university in the city, and incidentally was supposed to be preparing for an exam. My grandfather had told us not to disturb him, and before the game we said that the room was off-limits. Since I wanted to win, I went by the room and to my glee (probably the last time I would feel that emotion for some time) I found the room empty. And happily I hid under the bed.

At this point you may ask how I remember everything with such great detail. All I can say is that I have been trying to forget that for years, but nightmares are vivid. Some time passed and suddenly the door opened. He entered the room, having taken a shower. He would have been 20-21 that time. He came in the room, a towel around his waist, tousled wet hair. Out the side of his eyes, he caught my clumsy feet sticking out from underneath the bed. I hadn’t realised I had been hiding poorly. He sternly called out to me and asked me what I had been doing in his room. I sheepishly explained to him about the game and begged him not to tell my very strict grandfather who believed in corporal punishment when it was due. I think you can kind of see where this is going. He said, well I won’t tell your grandfather if you make me happy. And he dropped the towel.

In retrospect I feel now I walked into a trap. I don’t know if the people reading this will be all that comfortable with the details of what happened next. But on that day, I was touched and I was made to touch things. I was asked to keep quiet about this and if I kept making him happy, he wouldn’t rat me out. After finishing University, he joined my father’s business. And now he was permanently living in my house.

As I write this now, I feel so foolish. What was I thinking? Why did I let him keep doing that to me? You know what the worst part was? He kept catching me in scenes of trouble, and kept leveraging that against me. I felt for the longest time that the Universe was conspiring against me. But you see, it took me a good 3-4 years to actually understand what he was doing to/making me do to him, which was right about the time I hit puberty. Puberty made everything worse. Everyone goes through a tough time with how they perceive themselves during puberty. Everybody had body issues. But he was not just sexually abusing me anymore. He was giving me shit about my body, he was mentally hurting me. Then he got married. I was relieved; I thought my torture was over. I was glad there was someone coming to take my place (now I feel guilty I ever had a thought like that). But within 3 months of marriage, his wife left him over allegations of marital rape (something I recently understood). My extended family still talks smack about how she walked out on him and his parents built stories about how that girl cheated on him and ran away with some other man, but I totally believed her. But from the time she left, for the next 1 year and 9 months, I was in hell. Both literally and figuratively. He started abusing me on a regular basis and verbally abused me and on two occasions, he hit me
It’s not that I didn’t try telling this to someone. My mother told me he was being playful. My father asked me to talk to my mother. I didn’t know whom to talk to. He found out I had tried talking to my mother, and threatened to kill me, almost choking me in the process. I was in full blown depression. I wouldn’t talk to anyone, I wouldn’t do anything. I gave up my extracurriculars, something I had been passionate about. My studies tanked and I was barely scraping through. I had terrible anger issues, I screamed and threw stuff, threw punches with my sibling and cousins over the smallest of arguments. My parents attributed this to an adolescent rebelling and the elders proceeded to turn a blind eye except the occasional corporal punishment when things turned too ugly in a fight. But on the inside I was suffering. I wanted to kill myself but I didn’t have the
courage to go through with it. I wanted to kill him.

I don’t know who heard the prayers I said every night as I went to sleep, hoping that or any other day wouldn’t be the night he wakes me up at 12 and orders me in to his room. But when I turned 14, he went to our beach house for a weekend. My cousins and I were supposed to go too, but the older ones had a test the Monday after and terrified of going alone, I promptly feigned illness. So he went alone. And he never came back. He had drowned in the swimming pool, having had too much to drink before slipping in to the pool.

I don’t know if this makes me sound like a sadist, but I was the happiest person on planet Earth that day. I was taken to task for laughing during his funeral but believe me I would have endured anything because the joy I experienced was incomparable.
Almost overnight, the absence of a source of constant fear had a magical effect on me. I generally became a happier person. I no longer carried so much hate all the time. I became more and more comfortable in my own skin. I became nicer to people, I started taking an interest in what I was doing. I started being a better human. Don’t get me wrong, I still suffered from crippling insecurity and trust issues. Even now I wake up in the middle of the night completely drenched in sweat, hyperventilating. But they are also slowly receding.

When I turned 15, I sat my parents down and I told them everything. I had been talking to a friend who went through the same thing and we decided it was high time we tell our parents. My parents did not take it seriously at first but when I was done, they were utterly startled. That same year we moved into our own place. Right before I came to PIMS, they sat me down and apologised and I saw my dad cry for the first time. I do not hold anything against them.

I think the reason I am writing this, for so many people to read, is that maybe I’ll be more at peace with what happened to me if I felt strong enough to tell a lot of people. But some details are meant to be left out, don’t you think? If you have ever been touched without permission or abused, make sure they don’t anymore. Find someone to talk about it. Not everyone maybe lucky enough to have their molester suddenly die in a freak accident (yeah, that does sound a little sadistic). Don’t let them hurt you because you are an amazing person in your own unique way and no one has the right to tell you otherwise.
If you have young siblings, nephews, and nieces or generally anyone you know, taken it upon yourself to make them and their parents aware of things like this. There are plenty of despicable people on this planet. I was never told this, and I’m pretty sure it would have made a difference. I too would have had a happier childhood. With this letter, I hope to start afresh and not be constrained by what happened to me. Thank you for patiently reaching the end.

Anonymously Yours,
A friend.

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