I woke up screaming that night. With beads of sweat rolling down my head and desperately trying to catch my breath, I broke down crying. It was the first time I have cried after a very long time. It’s been 15 years since I participated in that very awful act. Yes, “participated.” I was too young to know what I was engaging myself in. And though I feel anger and hatred, it’s always the guilt that consumes me the most. The guilt of knowing that I did get into it willingly. I was too young to even know what was happening to me. I didn’t resist, I never once uttered the word ‘No’ when he groped me with his hands. I silently obliged. And the thought of not resisting him, not backing down, not saying no when I should have, or the least crying and screaming when he was molesting me made me cringe. How could I have let this happen to me?
I know I was too young to know I was abused. And when I came to understand what he had done to me, I mustered up all my courage to talk to my best friend about it. I knew I couldn’t share it with anyone within the family. Maybe it was too late to tell them now. But when I opened up to my friend, she told me it shouldn’t bother me. ‘He didn’t force himself on you. You participated in it willingly. So just let it go and forget the whole damn thing.’ So, that’s what I tried to do. But I was finding it hard to erase the image of him out of my mind. ‘It would be our little secret.’ ‘You trust me, don’t you?’ ‘You will always be my special friend.’ These words keep echoing in my mind. How could I have been so naive and stupid?
It’s been more than a decade since I saw him. So when he visited our house after a long time, all the images and thoughts came flooding back. Seeing his face sent shivers down my spine. Just being in his presence was mortifying. Whenever he tried to make eye contact, I looked away. I knew I couldn’t be in his presence for a minute longer or I would burst out crying. But I suddenly felt a hand on my shoulders. It was his. He looked at me and smiled charmingly. I ran into my bedroom and before I knew it, my eyes had welled up with tears. Soon after, my mom came rushing to my room. I could hear her voice in the background, but my mind had drifted off and I was totally numb to everything that was happening around me. After a few moments, I looked up to see her concerned face. ‘What happened, beta? Are you okay?’ I didn’t know how to answer that. No, I wasn’t okay. And I had realized now that I would never be okay.’ All these years I had thought I would be able to push back those memories into the back of my mind like a bad dream, hoping it would fade away. But it hasn’t been working that well for me. So, I finally decide to open up to my mother about what had happened. I wonder why I hadn’t thought of doing it before. Hearing someone else say that it wasn’t my fault and there’s no reason to feel any guilt or shame was relieving. I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders and I don’t have to live with this terrible secret anymore.
Since then I have been to a lot of therapy and counseling. And though therapy did help me to move on with my life, there’s one thing which my mother said that opened my eyes. She said, ‘What happened to you is terrible, but your future is in your hands. Don’t give him the power of destroying your future.’ Those words stuck with me. Since then I have decided I would never allow him to walk with his dirty feet into my mind.