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That Day I Learnt That The Word I Should Use For That Grandpa Was ‘Pedophile’

They had started being overprotective of me in public when my body started maturing. What they did not know was that they should have protected me long before then.

They had started being overprotective of me in public when my body started maturing. What they did not know was that they should have protected me long before then.

Trigger warning: This has child sexual abuse and can be triggering for survivors.

My parents never knew. No matter how many times I think about it, I could never come up with a way to talk about it with my parents. After all, nothing good would have come out it.

I was seventeen when the memories came back to me. It was a particularly bad day for me. I had come back from an exhausting day at school. With exams coming up, I was studying every waking hour. Trying to stay as one of the top scorers in class was demanding.

I remember that on that day I was tired to the point that I went straight to the shower when I reached home in the hopes of cooling down my head.

It was then when some flashes of memories came back to me. I was confused. Where did these memories came from?

It was a memory from when I was five or six years old, when I used to live in another city in an apartment complex.

As a child with an older brother, I was always outside following my brother, playing with him and other kids in the neighbourhood. I barely remember the faces of these kids, but I remember I used to feel happy.

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There was a Grandpa and a Grandma in the neighbourhood. They lived alone and obviously loved all the company they could get from kids. My brother and I loved to visit them because they would let us watch cartoons as much as we like while feeding us with all sorts of food. As a child, what more could you want?

I remember that the Grandpa loved it when I sat on his lap and watched the cartoons. But he would touch me over my clothes where it felt weird, lightly at first and then, faster and faster slowly pushing my skirt up.

I did not know what he was doing. I remember thinking that it was weird to do that. I used to make excuses to get off his lap. I remember that the next time I went there, I refused to sit on his lap. Even when he asked me to, I remember saying to my brother ‘why don’t you sit instead?’

It happened once more at least, I think. I am not sure. I remember wondering what he was doing while I was innocently watching the cartoon.

Years went by.

I was seventeen when these memories came back to me. I felt that it was wrong, that it was something that should not have happened to me. I cried in the shower not knowing why.

Society was unforgiving to women who were abused and harassed. I drowned myself in my studies to forget everything.

I was twenty three years old. I was in a foreign country to pursue higher studies and enjoying all the freedom I got.

It was a cold day in November when all of a sudden I remembered the unfortunate incident again. I was still a virgin who had no idea what sex was. All I knew was what I learned from biology classes. I wanted to know if the Grandpa had indeed behaved inappropriately towards me.

That was when I first watched porn, to figure out if I was sexually harassed. I could not sit through the whole video. It felt so disgusting that I almost threw up. I closed my laptop and tried to think through what I remembered; I guess I needed some closure.

That day I admitted to myself that yes, I had been sexually harassed. That day I learned that the word to use was ‘molestation’ when it comes to sexual harassment towards children. That day I learned that the word I should actually use to refer to the Grandpa was ‘pedophile’.

It took me another two years to casually ask my mom while I was on a video call with her about ‘that one Grandpa who used to live next to us in that city’. She told me that he had died a long time ago. He was already so old when we moved into that neighbourhood.

It took me so much courage to grit my teeth and put on a happy face in front of my mom. It took me so much strength to not fall apart right there.

I pondered over that for the new few days. My parents had no idea. I wanted to blame them and cry and hate them. But can I though? They had started being overprotective of me in public when my body started maturing. What they did not know was that they should have protected me long before then.

I thought about telling my parents what had happened to me. In the end, I did not. What will it bring? My parents had known me as a happy daughter who always made them proud. The moment I say anything, the happiness of my family would come apart. Won’t they be sad and blame themselves? Won’t they look at me with sorrow and pity?

I kept this secret within me for the last ten years. I can do another ten and then another ten till I forget and cover it with better memories, until it won’t matter anymore.

I did not get the closure I wanted. I decided that I do not need the closure. Why should I let an old, dead, pedophile dictate my life?

This is my life. I am going to decide what defines me, and a memory of getting molested is not going to be one of them.

Image source: shutterstock

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