By Pinaz Kazi:
The nine-year-old girl was scared that day. On a hot summer afternoon, she stepped out of her school van and came dancing down the lane wearing the white school P.T. frock. Quite a usual routine, till a man came and stopped her in the way. She had to make an effort to look up, to see the face of the man who was double her height. She hardly remembers his face now but remembers the incidents that followed.
“What’s the time darling?” Since she was recently taught how the clock works and she had a new wrist watch on her hand, this made her excited to reply. “2:25, it is”, she said proudly. Before she could realise, he grabbed her tight and kissed her hard. She tried to rub that off with her handkerchief. She didn’t know what she was trying to rub off but she kept rubbing her face. Soon, he stuck out his private part and asked her to hold it.
The nine-year-old girl shivered in fear, shouted and managed to pull her hand out from his tight gripped hands and ran like her whole life was at stake. She turned back to see whether the guy was following her or not. No, he wasn’t. He was walking the other way calmly like nothing happened. The little girl didn’t know what happened and what exactly scared her so much. She ran down to her house and described the whole incident to her mother. She remembers her mother was worried enough and called up dad. And the undying question of the nine-year-old to her mother was, “Nothing will happen to me, right?” Dad came all the way, leaving his work to see how his little girl is. The nine-year-old thought, something really bad must have happened to her and that is why her dad had to come, leaving all his work, which was an unusual affair and happens during emergency situations.
She was asked to have a bath, freshen up and have her lunch. She kept crying in the bathroom for she knew not what happened but it was bad, trying hard to rub off the incident with the soap and water. Gulping down the lunch was difficult that day. Not that she had any physical pain but something was so wrong that she had felt that her world shattered. Those monsters in the fairy tales, they are alive.
“My father kept asking me, if I remember the guy’s face, for he will find him and beat the shit out of him. Yes, I did remember his face then but didn’t know who he was or where he came from. No, he was not caught. He may not remember the incident any more or maybe he is not even alive now. After 14 years, I can still visualise it chronologically. My parents consoled me by saying, ‘He was a mad person and was fooling around. No need to tell anyone about this.’ And I didn’t. It was about 3 years after the incident that I realised what exactly I had gone through and what was so ‘bad’ about it,” the 23 -year-old girl smirked with tearful eyes.
If you are a survivor, parent or guardian who wants to seek help for child sexual abuse, or know someone who might, you can dial 1098 for CHILDLINE (a 24-hour national helpline) or email them at [email protected] You can also call NGO Arpan on their helpline 091-98190-86444, for counselling support.