16, Jan 2016
The stories are many, the theme the same. Of the clouds of silence and shame that blanket rape and violent sexual subjugation. Yogesh Pawar unravels narratives hidden in the folds of time to
understand the trauma of rape survivors
I was 17 when it happened. It took me five years to speak up. All my mother did was hit and shout at me. She was more upset about how this would reflect on her family. “Your father’s side of the family doesn’t like me. They must’ve put you up to shaming my brother. How can you do this?”
When it happened I was too young to understand its gravity. We’d gone to my mother’s village in Kerala for the summer holidays. My parents left me and my 11-year-old brother with our grandparents for two days while they went to meet an ailing relative.
The house is walking distance from the backwaters and I was playing catch with a rubber ring with one of the local girls. The ring fell into the water and as I tried to get it out, I fell in the water and got wet. I ran back to the house to change. It was late afternoon and my grandparents were asleep. I went up to the attic where our bags were kept, locked the door and began to undress.
I didn’t know that the window without grills looking out onto the terrace was ajar. When my uncle (he must be nearing 30 then) jumped in, I was startled. I thought it was inadvertent and quickly covered myself with a towel. But before I could gather my wits, he grabbed me and forced himself on me. He used the same towel to stuff my mouth and prevent me from screaming.