I’ve recounted this memory over and over in my head many times. I used to think about it a lot when it first happened, but now it comes to my head rarely, it still does, just not as often. I think it’s been a few months since I last thought of it actually.
It happened a few days before my flight to America, off to tackle the world whilst receiving my higher American education…as if that would make a difference to the reality of this complicated world (the world just sucks, or rather, the people do). I was at my nani’s house (my mother’s mother), my mother and I were living alone in a different state and had moved all our stuff to my nani’s house for storage.
I was in the storage room, arranging my precious Harry Potter books from the box into a glass cased book shelf for safe keeping until I returned back to this country. My nani’s brother’s son, who had been staying for education purposes at my nani’s house, entered this room. He told me my mom sent him to help arrange the heavy boxes and put them up in the shelves for storage. I said okay and kept arranging books.
This is when it happened.
He came up from behind me and said that he knew I was “that type of girl,” and then he groped both my breasts and tried to turn me around to face him. I struggled while he tried to kiss me before I elbowed him and made my escape. He went for my breasts again and I pushed him away and slapped him across the face. I didn’t even know what to say. I was shocked for one, and disgusted at the thought of what just occurred. It showed on my face as I glared at him. He made a move towards me again but then abruptly stopped when he saw my mother walk past the window, headed towards this room. She came in, no idea what had just occurred, and carried on arranging her own stuff around the room.
I remained silent. He remained silent with his head down and listened to the orders my mom gave as if nothing had just happened. I was just fifteen years old at that time.
I remained silent. All the times we had spent playing video games together, watching television, or going for a walk, in all those times when he would look at me, I realized, was not a look of a friendly man towards his niece, it was the look of a predator wondering when he would get to make a move on to his prey. My family trusts this person so much, they trust him enough that they sent him with me several time for “safety” when I would go places that were apparently too dangerous for a girl to go alone. Do they even know the walking danger was always next to me? This same danger could be a danger to others as well? How could they know? It’s not like I ever said anything about it.
I remained silent. All through these years. When I think of this memory, I think, I speak so much about feminism and how women need to stand up for themselves against bastards like these, and yet I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I couldn’t say anything about it then, and I haven’t said anything about it until just now. What is the purpose of obtaining “great education from America,” when whether I go or not, it doesn’t matter, there are people that will only see me as a something they want to use? That there are actually people, that can be close relatives, that are like this? What is the point of trying to be successful anywhere? Whether in my own country or in any other? Does it matter if I got accepted in to a good college or if I’m doing well off in life now? Does it matter if I’m on the path towards my version of success when people like this can’t look past their own nasty desires and can come in to ruin mine? Despite aiming towards success all the time, how can I be letting something like this drag me down? How did it even happen? This is all the patriarchy hitting in at once. This is all the hurt a man faces on his ego when a fifteen year old girl rejects his sexual desires, “how could she say no to me?” Just the other day I was reading an article written by some man about why women in India need a patriarchy (and to that, all I have to say is no! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.) All these thoughts just hit me, they hit me all the time.
I wonder what would have happened if it wasn’t me from the family and was someone else? I wonder what my cousin sister who is 10 years old now would have felt for years if this happened to her innocent soul? I personally consider myself a strong woman who has a strong opinion on the need for actual gender equality but I wonder why I’ve remained silent through these years, why I couldn’t just tell my nani (she would kick him right out!), why I couldn’t tell my mother, why I couldn’t just tell anyone. Do we really need people like this in the world? Do we really need to give them a chance after their deeds? The memory itself is disgusting, and the thought that I have younger sisters and brothers that might have faced this, maybe by the same person, and just haven’t been able to tell anyone just like me, is also plain disturbing. I wonder all this and that is why this is the story I have chosen to share. So of all the stories I could have shared, I wanted to share this one. I wanted to share it because finally, after all these years, I want to be able to share with the world (since I’ve been given an opportunity) something I haven’t been able to share.
I want to tell you all that I have decided to bring justice and a peace of mind to myself. I will the people that need to be told of this incident, and I believe you too are one of the people that need to be told. You need to be told because I don’t want others to suffer mentally like I have with this incident. I want you to be able to do what is necessary when and if something like this happens to you. I want to share this with you because if something like this or something even worse has already happened to you, to give you courage to be able to tell your story as well and release yourselves from the prison you’ve created. Society will judge us no matter what, but the people who do wrong, the people who violate, the people who might not have been able to rape us but have raped our minds regardless, they need to not be allowed to roam free. The need to be told on and our stories need to be heard no matter how big or small they may seem.