Dear readers, in last two posts I spoke about my would be step-father and one ‘uncle’ who tried to abuse me sexually. By now, you know I had an uneasy status in my family as a teenager. Were my sufferings limited to only sexual abuses? Not at all! There are more stories tucked deep inside my heart, waiting to be poured out.
Let’s say his name was Faruq. He was our landlady’s nephew who had come from their hometown to Dhaka and was living with his aunt’s family who helped him financially by enrolling him into a high school and by sponsoring his expenses. Probably, his parents were not well off; I don’t really remember. I met Faruq on the very first day we shifted to his aunt’s place as tenants. Our flats were opposite to each other. Given that my mother shared a rapport with aunty(landlady) and she was a working woman, my little brother often visited their place. They had become extended family to us in the city.
However, as we both(Faruq and I were of same age) were promoted to 8th grade, a noticed a change in his attitude towards me. He was suddenly trying to talk to me more than usual. My gut instincts were that there is something more than mere friendship attempts. And I was right! One day, he slipped a letter into Rupa, our domestic help’s hand and asked him to give me. I still remember the day, 19th July 2005. I still remember the opening line of the letter “Kaisa Yeh Pyaar Hai”(How is this love). I remember I started laughing as “Kaisa Yeh Pyaar Hai” was one of my favorite Hindi serials. However, that was it. I didn’t love Faruq. I felt absolutely no attraction towards him and I felt politely rejecting him would end the story then and there. But, it didn’t happen the way I thought it would. He tried to slit his wrist with a blade and was stopped by his cousin sister.
I tried explaining to him that love cannot be forced, but only in vain. He took advantage of the fact that I was terrified to share anything with mom, as I feared I would be blamed. Around this time, my grandmother was not around; she had gone back to our hometown. So, when mom would be away at the office, there were only three of us- my brother, Rupa and Me. Faruq’s uncle, our landlord, was sick at that point of time and often all of them were away at the hospital, leaving him behind.
He would kick on our door and swear abusive words at me. Sometimes he would send love letters whenever he got a chance. But I tore them all. I was disgusted with his behavior. But he would not relent. And the most disappointing thing was his cousin sisters, our landlady’s daughters had indirectly encouraged him to continue pursuing me. Earlier, I used to visit their place whenever I felt bored. Now I was confined within the four walls of the home. My only solace was the Nokia phone that mom kept in the house to keep in touch with us. I would call up my classmates and talk to them sometimes. Other than that, I loved to lose myself in the over dramatic Hindi serials.
He not only kicked on our door, he would often keep on ringing the bells and eventually damaged it. Mom was curious as she could not understand why the bells were damaged. I feared her reaction so I could never tell her that Faruq was making my life miserable with his obsession. Eventually, it was fixed. Then he found other methods to mentally torture me.
But one day, I finally lost my temper.
“You S**t, just wait and watch what I do to you. I will kiss you in front of everyone in the colony”, he yelled as he kicked on our door.
My brother was outside, happily playing cricket with colony kids. I was left with Rupa. I wanted to end this story for once and all. I went to the kitchen and brought boti(an instrument used in the kitchen for cutting fish, meat etc.). I whispered to Rupa, “Open the door.”
“Have you lost your mind?” She whispered, looking shocked.
“Just open the door.” I hissed.
She obliged. I still remember the shocked expression on his face as he saw me with my bloodshot eyes and the boti in my hand.
“Now dare to enter,” I told him.
He just ran away. It would be an exaggeration to say that he stopped chasing me altogether, but he longer had the courage to threaten me.
I wish more and more girls would have the courage to stand up for their dignity. To take a stand against stalking, to take a stand against child sexual abuse, to take a stand against any sort of discrimination. We need to be united in ensuring our basic rights as human beings.
I still smile when I remember the incident. As amidst all the chaos and horrors, at least once in my life, I had taken a stand. No means No- I had made this clear to him. And I wish, I regret that I could not do it each and every time to save myself.
Names have been changed to protect privacy.