– Broken Soul
I still remember it as vividly as if it happened just yesterday. We were a naughty bunch of 8 yr olds, carefree and playful. One of our favourite games was hide and seek around the small neighborhood on our way back from tuitions. Chhupan-Chuupai we called it. Every day on our way back from class we would choose a ‘denner’ and run in all directions trying to find a safe space to hide. That day, I ran towards an uncle’s house who we knew well.
He was kind, always generous with sweets, and a great storyteller. He would call me ‘leader rani’. That day he saw me trying to hide behind a drum in his garden and asked me to come in and I did. As my younger brother and friends got caught by the ‘denner’ one by one, I was elated because I was the only one who had found the ultimate hiding place! Nobody would suspect I’m here, I thought. The lights were dim inside the house, and it was very quiet because Uncle lived alone. He called me into the kitchen and gave me a chocolate. His fingers lingered longer than necessary on mine; I didn’t think much. Then he said I better eat fast and hide in the guest room in case my ‘paltan’ came, I didn’t think twice.
It was dark there, I felt safe and excited that I had outsmarted my gang. In the darkness, I felt a touch. I froze. This did not feel right. Even as an 8 yr old the alarm bells in my mind were ringing off the hook. Why was uncle doing this? Is he trying to find something in my clothes? As I stood there in the darkness being groped and fingered, I remember crying, biting my lips, pushing his lips away from mine. I felt dirty and I couldn’t do anything about it. I don’t know how long I stood there, it seemed like forever until the doorbell rang and as he went to open the door I ran out.
It’s been 20 years since that incident occurred and I still cannot get myself to get over it. Uncle carried on like nothing happened, he even came to my wedding and despite so many years I still can’t let it go. I can’t talk about it to anyone because nobody will understand. Maybe I am scared that they will judge me, maybe I just want that piece of memory to go away forever. I keep telling myself that forgiveness is the only way forward. But I can’t get myself to forgive him or myself for what happened.
Why did I go to his house, why did I not scream when he touched me, why did I not tell my parents? Will I ever forget this? Is it normal to hold on to bad childhood memories? Am I a bad person?
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