Monday, December 07, 2009

The Monkey

(This was written on International Child Abuse Day,19th Nov. Due to my exams , and lack of online facilities, I could not post it earlier.)

I am not supposed to remember this. At least not the date. For somebody who remembers only his own birthday among all the anniversaries of the people related to his life, even I would pinch myself to soreness if I could recall that the International Child Abuse Day falls on 19th of November. As it turned out, I need not pinch myself anyway as I did not find anything different about a rather dull, routine day until I came across a radio broadcast on child abuse. I had my exams starting next day, so I need not listen . I did not need to recall anything either. But I did. Both.

I would not call my experiences a case of child abuse. Actually far from it. To call them child abuse will be severely undermining the pain, humiliation and depression of those who have undergone this most horrific form of self-gratification. But still it left a lasting impression on me. Both the incident and what became of it.

I went to a boarding school in class VII . Now, you don't face abuse in that class. You are still a child, but lets say, you are not child enough. You start developing that bit of a fighter instinct ; growing out of that complaining attitude. And by experience I can tell you that, any child who does not show the same, might just be a case of abuse , direct or indirect. A lot of parents introduce their child as ," Bada sharmila baccha hai ." . Alarmingly so often quietness is used to shroud a self-depreciating and guilt-ridden mindset. Not for nothing in India 1 out of 2 children has been somehow abused and 70% of them never talk about it .

There were a couple of guys in my school- one was called Rana Pratap and other Ashok. What they did to me was nothing more than beating and forcible kissing. But I had never had such experience before and I was as shocked of that as you might be when you read me talking of such treatment in such casual terms. I remember everything as vividly as the back of my hand , but I wouldn't give importance to such people by writing about them. I wouldn't even have taken names, but then I feel that it is simply a way to get back to them. Vague may be, but still, here I go SLAP SLAP SLAP!!!!!

I would not have taken names also, since it is not normal for a child having being treated abnormally to talk about it . But then something happened - the culprits did not get away . It so happened that one day I was humiliated more than Murali has been against Sehwag, having been beaten and was told to do something when I shot back and was told that since I was his wife, I ought to do that. Something broke inside, and at outside , I broke down. Men don't cry, and I was ironically just been reminded by my conscience that I was a man still. Weeping I proceeded toward dining hall, when I was seen by a prefect , Souvik Ghosh. He asked me about and I told him everything including that wife bit. Back in my mind I knew that, kids henceforth will call me as the one jisne apne classmates ko phansa diya . But I wanted to get myself free of trappings of different kind ; the bondage was not comparable , I would say.

That prefect went straight to my class teacher. He was called Mr. Francis. He was rumored to have a slap which could play Walkman in your ears. We had a large hall in which we all used to have our meals but , it was not only Rana Pratap and Ashok who listened to Walkman that noon. The whole hall did; we sitting inside and those two and the teacher playing it outside. . You might call me sadist, but that was the best music I have ever listened to in my life. I was avoided by those two for the rest of my life. Life meant so much more henceforth , a monkey was off my back. It is quite unlikely that you are going to achieve a lot in life with baggage in your mind and monkey on your back. I topped class X in my school and a major share of credit was attributed to those two gentlemen-the prefect and the teacher. I don't support corporal punishment, but such incidents make me think twice.

But everybody doesn't have people like Souvik and Mr. Francis in their lives. More importantly children are generaly abused when they are much younger than I was - incapable of fighting back. Specially, since we Indians are often a bit timid in nature and the best way to solve problems we know is to avoid them . So, that is what a lot of our children do when abused, that is they simply avoid the problem by keeping shut. Child abuse is not that big a problem as children keeping quite about it is. A lot of us treat it as if it is like a ghost, talked about but not believed into. That is so dangerous because that is an attitude we pass on to our kids who since they don't know a think like this exists, think all of this is their own fault. We need to talk ,and if need be , we need to be like Mr. Francis. Otherwise timidness can be a bane ...a dangerous one at that because it can have many layers beneath.

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