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Rishi Verma is 29. He is a writer by profession, and by choice. To pay his bills, he works in advertising. To bring peace to his life, he writes fiction, strums the guitar tunelessly and reads like a maniac.
Some of us remember Tobu Cycles and Campa Cola from our childhood. Memories of Mario and Contra bring gentle smiles on the faces of some. Others, from a different generation remember cleaner, less crowded roads. Even playing Cricket on the streets during a nationwide bandh. Some are still around who remember getting on a train full of corpses during the partition.
And then there are those for whom a passing mention of the word childhood opens the gates to demons from the past; to memories of being punished in a locked bathroom; to blows that tore open their lips; to recollections of an adult’s forced weight on their frail bodies.
I wish I could use a more politically correct term: abuse, molestation, sex-without-consent. But I cannot. I cannot get myself to utter those words, created merely to cover up the horror and trauma that children all over the country, nay, the world face everyday. Regardless of your age at the time of your rape, it is rape. Not abuse, forced sex or molestation. It’s rape.
Some of you may get uncomfortable as you read the repeated mention of the word rape in this article. And I want you to know that there’s nothing wrong in feeling that way. What is wrong, is to not feel deeply sickened; to not feel the pain; to open the next tab on your browser and forget instantly all that you read just now.
Unfortunately, that is the reaction of most parents in the country today. How do I know? From the experience of having gone to my own parents after my rape. And what did I get? A stony silence and looks of deep embarrassment. Perhaps, I could have settled for those. Perhaps I would have lived with the silence, thinking that the guilt sealed my parents’ lips. But no. There were statements, judgements to come my way soon. “You must’ve imagined that!” There were also other comments to brush the uncomfortable topic off. “It’s okay. It happens.” “Forget about it.” “You mustn’t tell anyone about it.” Defenses for a relative, and against their own son. Reactions that left me only utterly puzzled. There was no space for anger there. No room for detesting anyone. Just a deep, dark fog of confusion. But nothing seeped into my being quite like the devastating statement: “It must be your fault. You must have done something wrong.”
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Whoa Rishi! powerful writing on a very touching topic. Reading your article reminded me of Aaamir Khan’s TV show where he spoke about ‘child rape’ and got the victims to open up
Nice post. Straight from the heart. I can understand the agony and confusion you felt when your parents too want you to hush up. This experience may help you to counsel others who face similar situations.
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