It’s 2014. And I am about to enter the third year of my engineering studies. I was frustrated back then. At that time, all I needed was a freedom, a go-ahead basically, from my family to pursue theatres — I can’t tell you how much they hated it, they still do — and I wanted that one person to love me back. None of that happened. And I was losing it.
It’s 2013. Realizing that there’s one counselor in our college, I start visiting her. The very first day when, after taking her appointment in the morning, I sat their gassing about my problems.
Everything I spoke was a lie: that I was having some problems regarding this college. I am a misfit here, and all that. I was not talking about the problem. Eventually, I did. I was finally talking to her about what I never did to anyone in last 15 years! About sexual abuse when I was a kid of age five.
Within 30 minutes of the start of the session, I started weeping. My face was red, and tears start flowing down my cheeks continuously. I wiped them off once or twice, then I decided to let it be. She sat there listening to me very attentively cupping her face in her hands like a potter giving shape to a mud-pot.
But I came there to discuss how badly I hated this college, how it’s difficult for me to communicate with people, how badly teachers talk here, and how irresponsible our management is that it doesn’t realize the need for extra-curricular activities, which we must all take part in. But I didn’t say all that, because that was never a problem. Problem is something else, it is the symptoms of the problem, which we confuse as a problem.
My loudness. My rebellion. My abusive nature. My aggressive participation in things. My domination in any activity related to any field. It was all connected to that one episode, which kept on recurring till the age of 12. Not by him, but by others. When my flesh was more exciting to be exploited by elders than celebrating my innocence.
(I got the courage to write about it only after two years of counselling. We — me and my counselor — mutually agreed on one art therapy, writing. I wrote everything, in detail, whatever happened. I fictionalize it to get it published, but decided against it because of the fear of being questioned by my college friends. It took a few counselling sessions, and a lot of courage when I finally let it go off my chest and published it on Youth Ki Awaaz. I still find it a little difficult to talk about it. But whenever I write about it, in a way, I always feel light. And, there’s always a new learning, which I feel like sharing.)
Next day, I told her everything.
Yes, my mother saw it, I told her. We moved out from that place, and shifted to a new location. That was the solution. Surprisingly, she wasn’t shocked. Maybe it’s an Indian reality. She must have been bored listening to it by now, I think.
She didn’t only help me in realizing that I don’t have to feel disgusted just because he (the perpetrator) did whatever he did. She made me realize that it wasn’t my mother’s fault either.
She made me think on these lines: You didn’t do anything bad, then why must you feel guilty? How often do we talk about it, then how can we expect people to understand, for that matter: your mother? Is she educated enough to deal with this?
In our society, it’s always your fault. Not the perpetrator’s. That’s what she told me. And this is what we should address first, she said, by educating people. And not by hating them.
There’s one more thing that we discussed. She asked me: Do you feel like taking revenge?
Yes. And how do you want to take it, she asked.
I had to be honest. We developed a rapport. I told her everything what I thought. There was no hiding from her.
I told her what happened a week ago.
I was visiting my doctor. I have bronchitis. There was a queue there. And I had to wait outside. I saw a pregnant lady, who was to see the doctor just before me. She makes a call to her husband, and asks him to come as she’s next.
I saw him. He was her husband. Something on his face indicated signs of being in mid-30s. And, a paunch. Rest, everything was same. He smelt the same.
It’s been 15 years now, after he did what he did at the age of 5. I didn’t expect him to know me, to recognize my face. But I did. I remember him. Actually, I remember everything, and that’s the problem. But can one forget such a thing?
I walked out of that clinic full of rage, only to break into tears in the middle of the road toward my home. I had one thought: I will do to his kid what he did to me. (Maybe I cried because I realized the immensity of that thought. One more child will go through this. And I started crying.)
I don’t deny that thought.
There’s something weird about thoughts. You can’t unthink what you just thought.
I told her this. She listened to me, as patiently as ever.
Victim Becomes Perpetrator.
She didn’t judge me on my thoughts. She counselled me and educated me what is know to be a well-research issue: victim becoming perpetrator.
She told me that most of the victims, in turn, tend to be aggressive and repeat what happened with them to others. And we must fight that instinct. It germinates from revenge.
You must forgive him, Saurabh.
That’s it? I thought.
How can I forget what happened? Can I get back that innocent childhood, which each one of us cherishes? Can he ever, if possible, undo what he did?
“What if he was the victim? And…” she asked.
Whoosh. It hit me.
The chain continues, I realized. But with conviction I realized it when I learnt about Chester Bennington, who was also abused by one uncle, who, in turn, was abused as a child. Victim became perpetrator.
Way Out of This Vicious Circle
The only way out is to educate people. Talk about sex. Talk about your genitals. Talk how it is a violation of your rights on your body when one tries to force him or herself on you. Talk to them how you should call out, shout when one touches you in an inappropriate way.
The more we keep hiding and hush-hushing the matter related to sex education, we’ll be prey to such incidents.
It happened with me. It is continuing to happen. And, it might be happening somewhere else. And, like my mother, someone’s mama would be beating the shit out of her kid and moving from one place to another… But the memory doesn’t leave your kid. It stays with him/her. The only solution is to tell your kids to freely report whatever any adult does to them, and not changing places.
We need to strengthen the child-parent relationship more than ever. And we have to stop hating people. We have to stop thinking of revenge. We’ve to start raising awareness.
It sounds easy. It is not.
Anyone who wants to talk about it, I’m happy being your listener.