Part 2 of the previous post The Hand.
Fast forward a few years; another large family get-together; another time for fun and frolic. Enter The Hand and The Mouth. She immediately gets up from the circle in the pretext of a phone call. At that exact moment she sees her cousin get up too. They catch a fleeting glance. There is an unspoken mutual feeling of their reflex action. Why did they get up at the exact same time? They both didn’t know each other that well, they hardly get to meet one another but that momentary eye contact creates a bridge. They walk out quietly to the cool night breeze.
There was a sense of calm, peace in their silence. She broke the silence and asked “Have you had a terrible experience too?” Totally out of context for a spectator but it made perfect sense to her cousin.
“One experience?” spat her cousin, “Couple of times by each of them”.
“Arrgh, that’s dreadful”, she gasped. “I am sorry to hear that”
“My self-esteem was shattered even before it formed. I was barely 6. Too young to know what was happening but never too old to forget or overcome it. But do you look at the irony? They inflicted so much scare, and fear of men, and fear of relationships, and fear of sex in me but they are ‘happily’ married and ‘settled’ in life. They are the epitomes of ideal men in this society whereas me – people say I am a failure. My parents say I am a shame as I am unmarried, though I am doing well at work, – because marriage, even if turbulent, is the only gauge with which the society measures your accomplishments. I am not in a relationship even though I know the ‘Not All Men’ theory. Do you see how deeply ingrained the experiences were to form such a social phobia in me? And the best part, they don’t feel even the slightest of repercussions while I am intimidated for life and buried deep underground. And to top it off, people are so unfair to the victims if we speak out. If weak even once, keep suffering forever, get branded. Blame, name and shame the victims and the accused is never in the limelight.”
“Victim shaming is probably the main reason of people trying to cover up or not speak about their agony”
As an after-thought, I wonder how they would ever speak to their children about abuse without any guilt. Yes, they would have first-hand information of how to identify an abuser but at least when they have this conversation, will they realise?”
“They might get their spouses do the job perhaps.
”Did you ever consider confronting them?”
“Yeah, it is ridiculous, isn’t it? We can happily go complain to our parents about strangers but when it is someone we know we somehow don’t bring it to the light. I don’t know if it is because of the self-doubt at that age or the trust on these known faces. I feel stupid when I think about it now.
But yes, I did consider confronting their parents, a few years later, when it all made sense to me but they being so protective and being the kind who turn a deaf ear to their children’s antics, I stopped myself. You know them too, what do you think they’d have done?”
“They would have asked you not to tarnish their beloved children’s names by spreading fake stories..”
“Exactly! And let’s say even if they had a slight sense that wasn’t blinded by the unbound love for their children, they would have just called me impertinent and broken me beyond repair right in front of the villains and later in private would have warned them of not repeating this. The accused would have just walked away with a warning but with an assurance that their parents will get their back, no matter what, and I would have had my belief in this system go to the dogs.”
She put her hand around her shoulder and they stared into the empty night.