“Mrinu, come here. Lets hug” Rupak mama said, with a big grin on his face.
I shrieked and shivered inside and ignored him.
“Come on, little doll. Why do you ignore your mama?” He looked disappointed.
“Mrinu, what’s it with you? Why are you always so unfriendly? You don’t want to stay with your mother. Go go, those ‘villagers’ are waiting for you.” Nani grimaced. I got further irritated. By villagers, she referred to my estranged father’s family.
I hated it when Rupak mama, let’s call him ‘Rupak’, used to visit our place. He was not really my mama, or my uncle. He was a freelancer at mom’s office and coincidentally, mommy and he shared the same surname. Moreover, he had no family in Dhaka. He was from another city, pursuing studies in Dhaka and trying to earn his pocket money through freelancing. My mom always liked hard-working youths and she took a liking to him. She said to him that he can consider us as his family, and that she is like an elder sister to him. Anytime he felt lonely or craved some good home cooked food, he could come over to our place. After all, my nani, or maternal grandmother was a superb cook. And he came into our lives. I was 13 back then.
Initially, he was friendly and all cool. But with time, his attitude changed. He was more interested in hugging me and the domestic help at our house, who was probably 16/17. I didn’t know anything about good touch and bad touch, but it appeared strange to me that he never insisted my brother to hug him, or nani for that matter. She was like a mother to him, right? Then why he wouldn’t hug his mother or nephew or elder sister for that matter? Why me, or why Kulsum(our domestic help) for that matter?
One day, while munching on cornflakes dipped in milk, I asked Kulsum. After all, she was elder than me. “Kulsum, why Rupak mama loves us more than others?” Kulsum grimaced. “He does not love us, little sis. His intentions are bad.” I was taken aback. “Kulsum, what do you mean by bad intentions?” “You remember what we watched on ‘Kusum’ (a popular hindi serial I used to devour) that day? That boy was trying to do bad things with Kumud? Your Rupak mama is going to do the same to you or me someday, if he gets a chance.” Tears fell down her cheeks. “You know, twice he went to the kitchen and grabbed my breast. I am too scared to tell anyone, because I cannot go back home. You know I have stepmother and my life is miserable in the village. Which is why my father sent me to Dhaka to work”
I was mortified. Yes, she was right. Indeed he tried to tried to feel my breast once, but I had no breast yet. I still hadn’t hit puberty. The other day, he tried to kiss me when nani went out of the room to fetch something. Now the realization hit me. “Oh god! What do I do?” I asked myself.
I was terrified of mom and could never open up with her. On top of that, nani disliked me. She often called me a ‘curse’ in her daughter’s life. According to nani, my parents would have been separated long ago, if I was not born. There was nobody I could talk to about this, except my best friend Mahi. I poured my heart out to her as she always seemed more mature than her age. She told me to maintain careful distance from him.
I started distancing myself from him, despite mom or nani’s displeasure about my apparent unfriendliness. But he refused to be discouraged. One day, he tiptoed into my room while I was doing my homework, came from behind and lifted me up. “Surprise, little doll!” He grinned as he placed his hand below my buttocks and squeezed them.
I shrieked and yelled at him to let me go. Luckily, mom entered the room and told him to come for dinner. Later, after he left, mom called me to her room and said I should maintain distance from him. I was angry beyond words. That’s what I had been doing for two months! “Now you understand why I don’t like him?” I left her room without giving her a chance to reply.
Still, she didn’t ask him to stop coming over. Nani was blind in her affection and mom was hesitant to approach him. But now that mom understood his intention, I had someone other than Kulsum to keep me away from him. But still he would not take the hint.
And then, one day mom said he left Dhaka as his graduation was complete and he was going to get married in his hometown. I breathed heavily and sighed. It was a sigh of relief!
I wonder sometimes, why my mother didn’t stand up for me? Or our mothers for that matter? I know some of my friends who went through similar experiences and were heartbroken when their mothers were scared to stand up on behalf of their daughters. If you don’t save your daughter from monsters, how do you ever expect that she will never be bitter towards you? Is parental responsibility only limited to bringing up and providing your children with food, education, clothes, medicines and shelter? What is more important? What others will say or your little children whom you brought to this world?
I can only wonder, till the time I become a mother myself, if I ever do!
Names have been changed to protect privacy
Mrinmoyee’s story, the first installment can be found here: http://en.womenchapter.com/he-was-supposed-to-be-my-father/