Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
How I wonder what you are!
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky.
After reading such fine poetic lines,we find ourselves being fascinated and fantasising about stars that shine high and bright, we strive to become like one, shinning brightly and untarnished but what we don’t realise is, that the star is eternally confined to a solitary confinement, shrouded in cold and deep darkness. That darkness is something that we too encounter in this world, the world is dark and cold too, but it is up to us to find the light and shine like the stars up so bright.
We girls are just like these shimmering stars, beautiful and adorable, twinkling bright and full of light. I want to share my own experience too, something which I did not have the courage to share with my family all my life not even until now. I know it sounds strange, that I did not share this before but the time feels right as I cannot hold it all in anymore.
When I was born, my family was elated as they were blessed with a princess bringing in light and brightness into their lives just like a young shinning star. Then life moved on and I started growing up and with that my organs and body too, I was transforming from a baby girl to young lady fast.
All that while I was protected, I was like a frog trapped in a well unaware of the cruel world that lay outside the walls of the comforting well. All I had known about the world came from what I read about it in literature and I foolishly thought that I was all set to face the cruelties that the world would inflict upon me. Now as I look back at my young naive self I feel pity for myself as back then all of us girls are only taught about fairy tales by our mothers who teach us how to be good young women, help us acquire culinary skills and seldom anything else. We never truly learn how to face the cold cruel world that lays ahead. We always end up learning through our own very unfortunate experiences and these make us who we are when we grow up and that stays with us in the back of our mind throughout our lifetime.
When I was a kid of around eight and I had an uncle,who was a sweet, loving guy. He used to give me chocolates and various other treats and all he wanted in return was my company as he did not like being alone during the day while his wife was working away. After coming back from school, going to his place became like a ritual. He used to live right next door to us. Being with him was fun, I enjoyed playing hide and seek with other kids from colony as well as my siblings. Uncle was their and he was always the one to search for all of us and he never made any excuses to skip that routine.
But then things started to change. I wasn’t able to understand if I should call them good or bad but I was getting some extra and close attention from him even more attention then others. He used to search me first, give me extra chocolates and treats but at the same time he was doing something extra with me. He was partial towards me and he started fondling and touching me on my private parts.
At first, I could not make out or realize what was happening. I thought it’s okay if he is touching me like this. It must have been okay. I respected him, and he was much older to me and he knew more than me. He continued doing that and I let him do everything too without any objection or resistance. But then everyday I started hating my own skin.
I was feeling as if a foul stench had settled on the places he had touched me. I felt this incessant urge to tear my skin off and those parts and just give it to him all at once. Touching my breast, which had not even grown by that time and felt more like a chest than anything else, he used to touch that, hold it and crush it as if it was paper and I was a paper doll and it really hurt in every way!
One day suddenly he showed me something, a huge dark colored part of his body, something long enough and he wanted me to hold it. I was scared and terrified to hold it as it was a frightening monster. He wanted me to hold that monster and play with it. That was the day I shivered with fear and was completely numb and speechless. I was scared of that uncle too. I thought may be he is the king of the monsters and he may have many monsters with him to scare us or I should say particularly me.
Next day when he called me, I started trembling and crying. I protested and told my mother that I don’t want to go there, I don’t like that uncle anymore, I don’t want anymore chocolates or treats and I insisted and pleaded, begging to just don’t ask me to go there. But my mother thought that I am saying this just like that and she again asked me to go and forced me to go to uncle’s house again at his request. I went again and I planned to hide in the best place possible that I could so that he would not find me. But after all it was his house he found me really soon, and this time he just did not show me that awful, scary monster but kissed me on my cheeks and then lips. After that his hands descended to my lower parts, rubbing it and I found myself to be completely helpless and I could not really do anything about it.
After that I ran home as tears endlessly rolled down my eyes. My Mother asked me with a concerned look about what happened but I had no words to explain. I wanted to tell her what had happened and that I did not like that what uncle was doing but I found myself completely out and lost for words. For me I did not like playing hide and seek anymore. I started hating hide and seek because as per uncle those were the rules of the game and I did not want to follow them anymore.
After getting home, I wanted to hide myself forever, I did not want to talk and just wanted to cry out loud. I wasn’t even aware of why I was crying but I was filled with an overwhelming feeling of disgust. I was feeling disgusted as well pathetic about myself every time back then. There were lot of questions in my mind that I could not explain, Why only me? Why this happened with me? Why he always found me first? Why? Why? Why?, Alas I could not find any comforting answers.
My mind and my understanding was really less than his, I was not able to express my feelings and emotions. He always had better excuses and reasons to manipulate whatever I told to my mother. My explanations and even loud cries were drowned out in front of him. He was a masterful manipulator of words and was sweet and courteous with all our moms and especially with my mother. He called my mother his daughter and I was his grand daughter. He said he loved me the most, but I started hating love. Now I did not want his cruel and terrifying love anymore. I just either wanted to runaway from home or just stay away as far away as possible from him. I tried to hide away from him many a times, and sometimes I just pretended to sleep so that I would not have to go. As the days went by all those things were scaring me even in my dreams.
Finally, I became adamant and told my Mother, you can beat me but please don’t ever send me to that place. She thought may be I don’t like uncle anymore but I hated him. She thought may be I am making excuses but yes I was scared and terrified of him and I did not know what was happening and I did not want to experience that anymore. I stayed composed. That feeling scared me for a really long time but as time went by I learned it wasn’t me alone. I was the lucky one who could understand and being stubborn escaped that traumatic experience. Some of my friends were also going through same but could not explain it, or get away from it and simply carried on with it. They let him do everything but did not utter a word about it.
We feel so unlucky and helpless since our childhood. Parents teach us how to be sweet, how to be nice with all, how to respect and be polite and always say ‘namaste’ in India but they never teach us how to protect ourselves and kick these monsters in their balls and bring such inappropriate and scaring behaviour to the attention of our parents.
This is story of a star who is old enough today but could never share her experience with anyone. She learned it with time that those weren’t the rules of the game but it was harassment that she was facing each and every day.
Doesn’t this sound pathetic, that one innocent person facing something isn’t even aware about what it is. I feel it is weird but I will put all blame on our parents for it. They never teach us whats most important to survive in this world. To Be high and keep this darkness away at least on an arms length away from us. Everyone say’s, ‘Time teaches all” but instead I will say that “People teach it all”
That little innocent star learned the lesson and now she is independent enough. Somehow she still struggles with either giving her thanks to that uncle or to curse him for making her feel pathetic and disgusted about her own skin and organs. Those organs about which even she wasn’t aware, what are they called and where they are used and why she even has them. I pity that sweet star for that time for sure.
This ends with my favourite poem but with some changes that are much needed:
Twinkle twinkle you shinning star
you had live with so many scars
but finally you found your way too far
Now you are actual star.
This piece is partly fictional and party based on the author’s personal experiences.
Shina Kalra is currently pursuing M.A. in literature and completed her graduation from Zakir Hussain College, Delhi. She is also working with Cvent as a product consultant.