The silence that never was – by Bhavana Nissima

They say they are glad the silence broke. At least now people will talk about it openly.

On a Sunday morning India discovers every second child has experienced child sex abuse. I silently shudder.

For that woman whose mother cleaned her up afterher grandpa’s deeds. She ate a lot and never married. She also can get quite angry and is hurt very easily. And yet she quietly trudges her way to healing. Tell her she needs to be brave, she needs to call this person up or that organization, that she does not need to be ashamed.

Ha! She knows it. She just wants to be loved.
And I shudder for that woman whose father did not stay a father.

She moved from one boyfriend to another, hoping for some salve, like a puppy looking for a master, the only way she knows to relate to a father.

Professionally, she is excellent. But, nope, I don’t think she is married. They have nicknamed her last name—Rona Dhona Khona. (the one who weeps and loses)

And I shudder for that woman, whose body and lungs would freeze up and she would sit or sleep or liefor hours together. No, she could not make it to the appointment yesterday.

She cooks well and seizes control over your domesticity in hours till you wish you could shake her off. She is intense, hard, harsh.

Yeah, she knows all about being brave and speak and all that. Can she call her mother today and say, your brother was not much your brother?
Who will hold her today as she first freezes and then scrapes you?

And I shudder for others, some married and some not,for whom the memories are not so clear. Some vague recollections.

Some feverish attempts to connect the dots. The pain seething in the body. A consciousness that slips in and out. Did it happen or not? Only that time or multiple times? Only that much or beyond? Of a discomfort around him. Of a seeking if others too were affected.

A search for evidence to nail it down. A confusion—must be an imagination. Some who collapse—Oh Bhavana, I think it must have… or others who smoke and drink—I think I know why. And others in turmoil–of an inability to stay in one place, or relationship…a need to forget, a need to move on from what was never defined or clear and yet froths up pain.

So I say this—shut and listen up : In our hearts the silence never was, just an unending chatter. Now you hold our chatter in sacred silence and just hold!

(original article : by Bhavana Nissima


2 comments on “The silence that never was – by Bhavana Nissima

  1. Jessica says:

    I just found this article on BBC via Twitter. Thought you might find it interesting. (Although it’s mostly stuff you already know.)

  2. Beautifully written. The poignancy of your words pours forth the bitter truth that we try so hard to ignore. I challenge any of us to say they have never been sexually exploited, be it with a word or a gesture, a look that undresses you or a touch that scratches your very soul, or even that all pervasive fear that never releases its hold on you and controls your life.

    I have had unseen fingers probing my genitals when I was boarding a train, all of 10 years of age, wearing that new frock I loved so much, excited to start my summer vacation. I was confused and could not comprehend what had happened. But even then I knew something bad, and filthy, and sick had been done to me. I still remember the feel of those rough fingers punching into my tiny child’s body.

    I have been groped and pinched and mauled on a crowded bus on my way back from college in Delhi. I struggled towards the door, only to have my top lifted up and hands cup my breasts in full view of the road. I know that nauseating feeling of fear, loathing, hate, shame, humiliation and for some strange reason, guilt, that floods a girl who is a victim of sexual offences in our country. Shame and guilt, as though I was somehow responsible for this happening to me.

    I have been chased by boys on motorcycles while travelling alone in an auto at night in Delhi. I was only saved from Damini’s fate by the auto-driver who managed to dodge the gang while I frantically called for police assistance, which arrived about fifteen minutes too late even though I was right at India Gate, the most heavily patrolled area of Delhi. If that auto driver had decided to join the boys in raping me, nothing could have saved me.

    The voices that spoke to you are neither alone nor isolated in their experience of depravity. If I, despite being a well-educated, working, upper-middle class girl in a big city, could not escape unscathed and unscarred, how can anyone else have a chance?

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