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The Repercussions

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.

“Hmmm”.

”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.

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The Hand

“You have grown up so much”, said The Hand with a pat. The moment The Hand touched her shoulder, it gave her chills and revived forgotten memories from more than a decade ago. The Hand she shunned, the Hand she detested. The Hand that was skilled at finding an opportunistic moment or even creating one. The cruel Hand, the cunning Hand. The Hand that traversed and caressed her body slowly, when she was mere 10 years old, searching for her non-existent breasts. The Hand that wasn’t that old too, probably just exploring its own body when she had become an experimental piece. The undecided Hand that felt scared to reach inside her underwear and that had then proceeded towards her thighs momentarily, only to muster courage to go back in a few seconds later. The Hand’s finger hurt her and she experienced her first cramps. The Hand stroked, what looked like a bone with skin between its groin with its Other Hand. What had been a few minutes had felt like eternity for her, wanting to run away from this uncomfortable and suffocating moment. She wasn’t taught about such things at home or at school and hadn’t read any such story in her book collection. She did not know that saying ‘No’ might stop it or screaming for ‘Help’ might work. She did not know that confiding to a trusted elder would bring this to an end. She did even understand her own barrage of thoughts to put it into words to an elder. She only learnt that adults don’t understand hints – when the 2nd time they wanted to leave her alone with The Hand, she pleaded to The Hand’s mother to take her along but her grown up child was to teach the little girl how to wash clothes and do the dishes – which were important for a girl to learn during vacation. She spent the whole chilly evening outside, on the lawn, refusing to budge in only to be reprimanded by The Hand’s mother, later that night, for not helping out her dutiful child with any of the chores.

She couldn’t care less for the next morning she was leaving that house and that city. Luckily. She slept in peace, a little too soon.

Next morning, she had to go to everyone’s room and bid goodbye. She did not enter The Hand’s room; she just walked into the adjacent room.

“You never thanked me for taking you to the movies the other day”. The moment she opened her mouth to utter a word of thanks, The Mouth latched onto hers. It squished and squashed her tiny lips and tried pulling it off her face. She again could not comprehend to the happenings. Why was The Mouth trying to rip her face off? She had never seen her conservative parents kiss in front of her nor had seen any movies to understand that this horrible gesture was a kiss. For her a peck on the cheek was a kiss. All she knew was her lips hurt. The ordeal was over in a few seconds and she ran out of The Mouth’s room and the house and the lawn to the road. She would never set foot inside this horrid place ever again she swore. And she never did, ever.

She never met The Hand and The Mouth, ever too, until this day. All she could muster up to the The Hand’s question was a mere “Yes”, shrug The Hand off her back and walk away. How dare they speak to her? Do they even remember, in vivid details, the episodes she had encountered with them? Or was she one of their many adventures for them to remember? Thankfully, they weren’t interested in her anymore; she wasn’t a child anymore; she just hoped their children don’t turn out to be Paedophiles or even get abused as Karma works in a vicious circle.

Post Script:

This story doesn’t have any names for the characters as it could be any one of us. ‘She’ too is a generic usage – could easily be a ‘He’. If you were ever in the giving end, be ashamed and learn. If you were ever in the receiving end, speak up and stop it. We get to read terrible stories of rape and molestation and always fear about our children; but even small things like in this story could affect a child psychologically. ‘Mild’ abuses (if we could call them that) such as these are more prevalent around a child’s life and their scars could be deep.

Talk to your kids about Child Abuse; empower them to fight back and do the world some good by not just protecting them from abuse but by also raising them not be abusers. The second part could be the toughest; I haven’t crossed that bridge yet, so I don’t know how. Do tell me if you know.

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