“It’s been years. I don’t feel the pain in my vagina anymore.”
“But why didn’t you confide in anyone?”
“I was shocked. Maa used to see me bleed in pain, but she chose not to do anything. So, I thought it’s something to be done regularly. I was 7 then. I am 20 now.”
“Since then? Till you moved out? Every day?”
“Almost, till I planned to move out.”
As we were sipping on some lemon tea, I looked into her eyes. She had completely no expressions. She seemed indifferent. I grabbed her pack of smokes. We shared one. I noticed a faint smile on her face.
“You know, every man in that family tried to touch me – Mama (maternal uncle), Chaacha (paternal uncle), Khaalu (maternal aunt’s husband). But, but Baba…”
“What? What did he do?”
“He never stopped them!”
She opened her purse to buy candy floss. I could see condoms in her purse. I didn’t ask anything, I knew she’d tell me everything. After all, she was going to be engaged to my brother.
“He didn’t stop them because he wanted to earn without working, and I was the only option for him. He didn’t let any other man touch me but my relatives, and he claims that with pride.”
“Why the hell didn’t you go to the police, Sarah?”
“Because when I tried doing something, I was asked how my breasts had been grabbed and I was asked to demonstrate and then…”
“I was asked to strip and show them the marks.”
I noticed tears dripping down her eyes.
Sarah is one of the most overexcited women I have ever come across. She is always smiling and always jumping, and always smoking. Always with no gaps.
“Regularly hota aaya hai na. Hota gaya (Because it would happen regularly, so it kept happening). I crossed puberty. My school was very strict and I had no friends. Kis ko bolti (who would I have told)? My own parents betrayed me. You think my school would have helped me?”
“Look, I am going to publish this story online. I want you to tell me everything so that we can stop another Sarah.”
She paused. Lit another smoke, gave one to me.
“I was 7 when I was raped. My mother served him tea in the very same room. My dad took money from him, I was in pain. Something below my stomach was paining and I couldn’t understand anything. The next day, Mamu (maternal uncle) had come over. I was so happy. He entered my room with Nutties and raped me just like Chaachu did. He held my breasts really hard and then inserted his fingers inside me. The pain was intolerable.
I wanted to run away; I was crying and yelling on top of my voice. He penetrated something and I felt like I was dying, and then I was lying on the floor, naked. My pet, Tito, licked my head and arms and sat there, without barking. This continued. Just because they wanted to derive pleasure, I was raped by Mamu and Chaachu on the very same day, just before my exams. I bled for days. Eventually, I didn’t feel the pain anymore. Their penises became familiar and friendly, yet so unwanted. I was always ready with my legs spread and my clothes off. Baba and I hardly spoke then, I couldn’t tolerate them. In fact, I was pregnant and was asked to choose an abortion. Obviously!”
“How are you now?”
“I am awesome. I am getting married which was something I always wanted to avoid. A man fell in love with this torn body which has been used in every way by many men. Sex, not love. Now, I am getting the love I deserve and that makes me smile. I have left them now. I live with my friends and I am happy.”
“Why don’t you file a complaint against them?”
“I can’t. Baba is involved. Let them be. I am strong enough to stop another me, police kya karegi? Just like you are penning down and recording (my story), others will too and this will spread. Laws in this country will not help you, you can help yourself, you can help others and authorities will NOT DO ANYTHING.”
“What are your plans in the future?”
“Hahaha. I am going to complete my degree here. Get married, continue my studies abroad and then work with Sharoon.”
“How many babies do you want?”
“I can never have kids. I have complications. I have been raped more than 30 to 40 times. I can never have babies, but I want to adopt as many dogs and cats as possible and live… happily.”
The pack of smokes was finished. We exchanged a very deep look. I hugged her and she left for work.
She has grown up with the men in her family exploiting her body in every dirty way possible. No, it is not that she isn’t raising her voice against them, she is doing the necessary by talking to people who are willing to share her experience. But she doesn’t wish to penalize them because she loves her parents.
Sarah works with NGOs now and is studying psychology.
She is smiling but do we really know how loud her screams for help are behind her smile? Can we see the pain behind that smile?