I am 25, an obsessive compulsive dreamer, and Chennai is my ‘home’. But at times, I’ve been afraid to say that. Especially for a person who has to travel through public modes of transport – your breasts being groped, or your back being (un)knowingly touched are incidents that happen on a regular basis. When I was around eight or nine years old, when sadly I was unaware of the ‘good touch’ and the ‘bad touch’, I had to face a very sinister incident. For those who’d say “she asked for it”, or, “the girl would have gone out in the night, wearing short skirts” – HOLD ON! The incident that I faced happened inside my own home. Yes, you read that right!
I come from a very protective community – a single girl child of my family – so you can imagine how pampered (read spoilt) I had been. I can recollect myself to be a very chirpy person, and pretty much an extrovert even at my young age. One day, the tap in my washroom decided to splash all over – so my dad had to call in a plumber to repair the tap. While I was helping the plumber hold the pipes for him, he started to have a little conversation with me. He must surely have been around 35 at that time, but he had the audacity to grope my breasts – when I was barely eight year old. He said, “You’ve held the pipe long enough, now be a good girl and hold this for me” – and showed his genitals to me. I wanted to shout out loud and call my mom and dad who were in the adjoining room, but at that time, I could barely utter a word.
I ran for my life and hid underneath my bed – but I did not inform my mom or dad of the person at all, even after the incident. Recently I bumped into him at a market nearby. He and I nearly made eye-contact for a couple of minutes – but he managed to escape, somehow, amidst the crowd. Tears run down my eyes whenever I remember that incident, and the amount of trauma I’d undergone at that age when I did not even realize that I had been assaulted. Knowing the fact that this paedophile is still out there in the city that I call ‘home’, I feel miserable and extremely uncomfortable and unsafe. #UnsafeInMyCity
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.