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Lost Childhood

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She was just 5 years old when he slid his hands between her legs for the first time. He? He was her own cousin. It was just another lazy night for me when my friend told me about her childhood. It took me some time to realize the fact that she was sexually assaulted when she was just a child, just five years old. I always felt that “rape”, “molestation” and other crimes against women were simply disgusting, but I only realized the intensity of such a crime when someone so close to me had to go through it. One man’s pleasure left a permanent scar on her entire life, His lust took away her childhood, His desperation gifted her with sleepless nights and endless days, some of which even I shared after she told me about it.

She is eighteen now. Strong, independent, cheerful and gregarious. It was only recently that I figured out that it was all just a fake cloak that she would use to cover up her deep scars. How do I comfort her? How do I tell her that everything happened for a reason? How do I convince myself that the same won’t happen to all the other women I care about? I have no hopes of ever finding an answer to all my questions.

I had the best childhood anyone could ask for, perks of being the first-born in the family you may say. I was always surrounded by people, people who cared about me. I always got what I wanted. It is only fair to say that I did take all that for granted. For me, my childhood memories are the most beautiful moments that I can dig out of the very limited vaults of my mind. I am not sure if it is the same for her. I often find myself staring at the ceiling during those sleepless nights, trying to imagine how her childhood is so different from mine. How she might want to run away from it and how I wish to go back to it. The paradox of life would be a nearly precise way to explain this.

It is a common misconception that it is the uneducated men who commit such crimes, but the reality is that education can never replace basic humanity. She comes from a family of doctors and lawyers, yet no one could help her. Her mother was a doctor and would often see bruises near her privates, but she did not have the curiosity to ask her about it. Her torture stopped when her cousin went abroad for work. Her ordeal lasted for an entire year, she told me. When she was old enough to realize what had happened to her, it was too late. She was already a confused child and would often fall into a state of depression. She would hurt other boys in her class. She was became extremely anti-social.

After constant complaints from her school, her parents decided to take her to a psychiatrist . This eventually gave her the confidence to speak out about what she went through. Her restless soul finally found a solid ground to stand on, that solid ground was her will power. Thanks to the shrink, her “educated” family got to know about the details they clearly missed out, rather they ignored. Her cousin had to face some heat, but then, no police complaint was filed against him. Not just because he was a part of the family, but also because they did not want the society to judge her. Obviously, she was not allowed to take a call for herself. She was asked to keep mum about her suffering, like all the other women out there. Her childhood ended when she was just five years old, the exact time when I was being pampered by everyone in my family. Yes, it is a little hard to believe that men like her cousin actually exist in the real world, but the fact is, there are way too many men like him. Men who are cowardly, men who measure their manliness by the thickness of their facial hair and the size of their privates.

My father once told me, “Treat every woman in the same way you would want your own daughter to be treated”, maybe that’s why her story disturbs me so much.

I know that I can’t give her back the childhood she lost, but I do know that she deserved a better one. Sometimes I wonder if it was possible to share a little bit of my picture perfect childhood with her. Maybe someday she will get over it, but her story has changed the way I look at the society. It has made me a better person, a better man. Somewhere down the line, I feel a little responsible for her torture, I feel ashamed because, I am, after all, a man…

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