*Image courtesy : Google images *
Avani walked hesitantly towards her mother who was washing clothes on the terrace. She was not sure what she should do. Should she tell her mother about what happened? What will her mother’s reaction be?
Her mother noticed her walking towards her, “what does she want?” she thought. “What is it Avani? Is anyone looking for me?”
Avani, sat under the water tank to avoid the hot sun. “Amma, I want to tell you something”. By the time she said that, there were beads of sweat on her forehead, there were tears ready to flow out of her eyes.
Avani’s mother was getting worried. I hope she is not going to tell me she is love with someone now, or that she is pregnant, when was the last time she had her periods? Avani’s mother had the habit of making a mountain out of a molehill always. She couldn’t even wait for Avani to tell what it was, even before that her face had gone pale. She remembered what the famous astrologer had told her about her daughter. He had said that Avani will not be a virgin when she got married and hers will be definitely a love marriage. The fact that Avani was hardly seventeen years didn’t matter to her mother. Unfortunately the astrologer had forgotten to tell her at what age all this would happen, and of course she had forgotten to ask the details.
The only thing she knew was that by doing some “pujas” she would be able to change a few things and that is what she was hoping she would get to do in the next few months. She was just hoping that nothing disastrous had happened already.
Avani seeing her mother’s pale face was unsure now as to what to do. She slowly opened up. She had to talk, she had to tell someone.
She slowly started talking. “Amma, you know yesterday I was alone at home in the evening doing my studies”
“Periappa* came home amma”
“Yes, I know that”
“But he come home first amma, as soon as you and appa had left”
“Amma, he hugged me and kissed me and tried to touch me in the wrong places amma”
“What did you do?”
“I went out and sat in the balcony amma, then he went out and came around the time you came”
“Why did you not go to the opposite house?”
“Amma but you never let me go to anybody’s house”
“Idiot, do you not know when you should do what? You are not a baby anymore, and you have to know to use your brain. I am not sure what I am going to do with this girl!”
After that it went all quiet. There was no telling Avani that it was OK and that nothing had happened. Avani wanted a reassurance, a hug maybe, even though her mother never hugs her, she felt she needed a hug. She couldn’t bear how quiet it was so she got up and left. Her mother did not stop her.
Avani was hoping her mother would talk to her father and the two of them would stop “periappa” from coming home ever. He has done this touching bit a few times before too, but then she was too young to even know what was going on. This time she knew for sure it was wrong for him to do what he did and she had to put her foot down and stop it. The right way to do it is to complain to her parents and they will support her. That is what she thought.
But things had not turned out the way she thought it would. Periappa came and went to their house as though nothing happened. She learnt to lock herself up when she saw her periappa.
Avani over the years learnt, somehow it is seen in our society to the blame the girl for every single sexual abuse.that takes place, whether the girl is 6 or 36, it really doesn’t matter and it is a matter to be hushed up, lest the girl’s family gets a bad name.
Since then Avani has never gone back to her parents with anything. She never tells them what happens in her life. May be some day she might lose her virginity before her marriage too, who knows, but surely she isn’t going to talk about this to her parents.
She has learnt she has to fend for herself, no one else will. She has to be strong and find her own support system. She wanted to grow up and become a social worker some day and help all those little girls who get abused and have no support for them. Hope this dream of this little girl materialises.
*Periappa = father’s older brother / mother’s older sister’s husband (uncle)