This story was emailed to us by someone who prefers to keep his identity anonymous.
53% of children in India have admitted to being abused sexually at least once in their lifetime. And who are these children? They aren’t necessarily from the marginalized sections of society or those stricken with poverty. These are children from your homes and ours. The danger is so pervasive that no child is safe from this social evil. What’s more, boys are as much vulnerable as girls are.
Remember that some wounds stay forever with you, in your mind. And even time can’t heal them.
Everyone around your child is a probable criminal in the closet. No one can realize this until it happens. And it happened with me.
That Stranger From Nowhere
‘There you are!’ said the tensed looking African man who patted me from behind. I was waiting for the elevator and I have never seen this person in the building before. ‘You know, you look exactly like my son. I was searching for him’ said the man. I nodded and got into the elevator which had arrived, and so did the man. He got out into the same floor as me. Then he pulled out a chocolate and 5 bucks and handed it over to me. ‘You can have that. I bought it for my son.’ he said. I gladly accepted that. I mean, who doesn’t like chocolates and free money? ‘I would like you to meet him,’ he said. ‘We live just in the floor below.’ He then held my hand gently and walked towards the stairs.
We were going down and suddenly he stopped in between the two floors. He turned around to me all excited and told me, ‘Me and my son, we used to play some games here. You must also try it, you will feel good.’ He slowly pulled me towards him and pulled my shorts down. I was too confused to say anything. I just kept looking at him with my innocent eyes. He patted in between my thighs and began pulling down his own pants. He then took off my underwear and slowly began stroking my thing. ‘My son’s is also as small as yours now,’ he said. ‘See mine.’ He then took off his underwear and showed me a very dark and large thing, took my hands and placed it on it, and began stroking it slowly until it became larger. I still had no idea what was happening and I didn’t know how to react. He then slowly inserted that thing between my thighs and began moving to and fro quickly until a foul smelling white gooey substance sprayed out of it. I have never seen such a thing come out of my own and I began getting scared now. He then quickly got up, zipped his pants. He took a handkerchief out of his pocket and began wiping my thighs and pulled my shorts up. He then looked at his watch and told me that his son might have gone out to play, and he would introduce me to him some other day.
Part of me was relieved knowing that this person was leaving, and another part of me was worried that whether I would still run into this man. I slowly took the stairs up to my room, all confused. I had no idea what to do and at that moment, I was facing a host of questions on my mind which my young brain couldn’t figure. Have I done something wrong? Should I tell my sister? Would she tease me as usual? Should I tell my mom? Would my dad beat me if I told him? Finally, I decided that it was best to keep quiet and get on with it. What else was I supposed to do? I was just 7.
I was put into a boarding school at the age of 12, and to be honest, I was very happy that I was leaving home. It wasn’t because I didn’t like my parents or sisters, I loved them all. I thought I was flying off to a new place, a place I have never been before, where everyone would be my age. And above all, I wouldn’t have to encounter any more grown up people who wanted to touch me. It wasn’t until I got into this boy’s hostel I realized that whatever has happened to me was very very bad. It was so bad that finally when the realization struck me, it disgusted me to the core. I was forced to build a shell of my own, where no one could enter unless permitted, where no one would touch me inappropriately, or even talk to me. I stopped interacting with most of the boys; I stopped participating in extracurricular activities. Even the slightest of touch from a teacher/senior would leave me cringing. I despised friendly handshakes and hugs, social gatherings. By the time I was 14, my favorite times were spent alone in the gym, where I would work out rigorously. I wanted to be powerful to protect my vulnerable self, and disengage others from trivial interactions with me.
My Mom’s Close Friend – I Thought I Can Trust Him
As soon as the bell rang, I ran towards the door to open it. He introduced himself as a very close friend of mom. This was the first time I have seen this person. He was well-built, smart, and had an infectious laugh. I welcomed him and got back into my room to play video games. Since my mom was busy cooking, he also came into my room. He built a rapport with me instantly and we began talking about our home country, a place where I have never been to before.
‘Why do you sit at home all day and play games,’ asked the friend. ‘You are going to get fat really soon if you continue like this. Come on, I will show you how to be active and powerful, be real man.’ He started kicking in the air just like Bruce-Lee. He showed off some more moves and asked me whether I would like to learn the same. I excitedly started nodding and got ready for my class. He then changed into a lungy and taught me how to raise a leg above the head, and told me that today was the day I would learn KARATE. He encouraged me to start kicking and dared me to raise my legs above my head. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t.
Finally, he said, ‘I know the solution to your problem. Lay down on the bed’. I did as I was asked to. He then slowly got near me and told me, ‘You want to know what the problem is? This! This is the problem’ said he holding my thing in his hand. My smile suddenly vanished and I began to sweat as the image of that African man flashed before my eyes. He started stroking it and told me that I will only be powerful if I learned to train my thing. He swore me to secrecy and told me that from now on, he will be helping to teach me control my thing and make me a man.
My stay in a boy’s hostel taught me lots of things, and one valuable thing I learned was what a gay or homosexual meant. It also didn’t take me long to learn who all were homosexuals, and who all were involved in sex during the night time. I only had around 4 or 5 friends who I was really close with, and who I really could have a laugh with. But still, no one was ever close enough to me that I would really open up about my past experiences to them. These countless incidents had given me endless hours of sleeplessness, and I began smoking and using khainis(chewing Tobacco) when I was 14. Smoking made me feel like I was in control of my life, and here on I would live my life only on my terms.
My mom’s best friend frequented our place and he would always teach me KARATE. After some days of teaching Karate and training my thing, he also began to slide his stuff in between my thighs. To keep me telling this to anyone else, he started giving me money. Now, I have never had access to this much money before. Raised in a middle-class family meant that my pocket money was very limited, and suddenly I was getting more than I ever used to get from my own parents.
Now I don’t know what my mistake was, but there were way too many people across the neighborhood who would try to lure me for their pleasure and to give me money. I never dressed indecently, I never flirted, at least NEVER with grow up men! It came as a shock to me when even my best friend’s father wanted to do all these to me. These incidents had become so regular that I mistook all of it as an accepted way of living. I was still scared of sharing all these with my parents or elder sister.
It was a much-needed change in atmosphere when I got into college. At least here you had girls in your classes. Due to my past, nothing much had changed personally for me except that I had become shyer and more reserved than before in the presence of girls. My smoking had increased as I had unlimited access to it now. One good thing was I quit khainis(chewing Tobacco) completely as my enamels began thinning and started bleeding. I had my fair share of crushes on girls though I never had the balls to admit to them, let alone speak to them. I was also delighted on the inside that there were some girls who had a crush on me too. Whatever it was, it made me happy that there were no more MEN who would dictate me or force into submission. Also, I didn’t really need to learn Karate to give someone a proper thrashing; I could manage myself physically to many men now.
My Best Friend’s Father – I Thought He Is Different
‘Uncle, where is Ahmed?’ He smiled at me politely and told that his son might be at home. Ahmed was one of my closest friends I had then. He was athletic and powerful, and I always believed that he would be there to protect me all the time should any trouble befell me. Ahmed’s dad told me that he would take me home as he was also heading home for a lunch break. He was a very successful and rich businessman in the area. He was also very well respected among his peers for his generous ways of helping people. Though I knew him well, this was the first time I was going to his home. At times, I even thought about the possibility of this person being my dad instead of Ahmeds’.
We reached his place and Ahmed wasn’t there, so he asked me to wait until Ahmed got back. We started talking and suddenly a sudden change in mannerism of Ahmeds’ dad left me feeling tensed. He removed his cap and placed it on the hook on the wall. He then came near me, and like all the bad people which had messed my life, he also began patting my thighs and giving me chocolates. I suddenly got up and fled the place, ran as fast as I could. I went to a corner, behind a building, and started crying uncontrollably as I had no idea what just happened.
I don’t know whether it was inevitable, but a shocking revelation about my best friend’s father have left me shattered. Whatever self-belief I had was sucked out of me. You don’t want to know or learn that father of your best friend for eight years also has these same tendencies as people you had grown up hating. I was at crossroads in life and yet again, I had no idea whom to turn to. I contemplated quitting college and sitting home alone for the rest of my life. I didn’t know whom to trust, and I also realized that I just didn’t understand people, or their actions, or their justification for it. After a lot of heated conversation with my parents, I decided to give it a shot and complete my studies.
But Life Goes On
It was only after joining hostel that I visited my village for the first time. It was a very beautiful place, with lots of trees and rivers all around. Since my parents were still abroad, it meant I kept spending the nights at different places each week. I had seen so many people called relatives who I wasn’t even aware existed. One point of time, I was living with my aunt who I was familiar with, as she used to stay abroad with us. I got to know her brothers, cousins, and even enjoyed the time I spent there. Well, at least until that night. That night, when her own brother sneakily got into bedside with me. That night, when he too like all the bad people in my life, started touching me. I was 13, and still scared from all that had happened to me.
I packed my bags the very next morning, never to return to that place ever again. I was disgusted that the Karate teacher, my mom’s best friend was also there for his annual leave. He was a happily married family man from the outset now. But that never stopped him from inviting me to his room, show his wedding album, and then begin his usual routine. And it seemed like that was just a way of life for him.
I had landed myself a decent job. There were many people who thought that I would never do well in an interview, still I did. My social skills were still zero, and threatening to drop beyond that. During the training period, our trainer thought that I would never manage to survive. But survive I did, and that too by breaking all floor records. It gave me immense pride to quit on my own terms and look for further opportunities.
Life comes in a full circle I guess as I have got back to the place where it all began. The only thing that had kept me going was my complete dedication to whatever work I was doing. It had been quite stressful, but at least it kept my mind away from stuff I didn’t want to remember. I had begun interacting with people but still, not as much as someone in my position is expected to. My parents complain that I don’t call them much, or any relatives for that matter. But what can I say? I love them, it’s just that I am not really good at expressing my feelings openly. To this day, I am uncomfortable hugging or shaking hands with my dad, and I’m also really sad that I find it extremely difficult to express my feelings towards him. Or to acknowledge the respect for him, or for his hard work which has helped him to raise me well.
I have tried to read many articles online to learn how people in my state had learned to cope with life or help themselves to recover from the past. The statistics in US and India shows a very disturbing figure on child molestation and it definitely does not give me the courage to search for statistics of different countries. At above 50%, it feels like I’m in a majority.
Time definitely flies quickly. These incidents had given me a lot of sleepless nights. I try to convince myself that it all was a bad phase, a test. Even though my confidence in my religion had taken a shot, I still prayed to God that he would give me the courage to overcome this. He would give me the strength to be religious again, be righteous again. I am now happily married to a beautiful God-fearing lady. Until now, no one has been privy to my dark secrets, not even my wife. And as God would have it, I am a father now. A father to a handsome young son, a son I hope I can protect for the rest of my life. No words or action can describe the happiness and emotion I have felt at this little gift from God.
But at the same time, I am also worried. Very worried.
P.S.: There is only one name mentioned in the entire post, and that was the first name which came to my mind. The Karate teacher, my aunt’s brother, have sons of their own now. I pray to God that their children don’t have to face the same thing I had faced during my childhood. Ahmed’s father had died in a tragic accident after his retirement, may his soul rest in peace. I don’t know how many innocent kids were molested by them but I hope God has given them all the courage to live beyond these painful memories.
Finally, I also hope the experiences I have had and shared would help all the parents to be more attentive towards their kids, and be there for them not only when they need it the most, but forever.
Talk to your child, not as a parent, but as a friend so that they never hesitate to share anything with you.