Lucky are those who have enjoyed a childhood free of any kind of heinous memories.
When I am reminded of my childhood, there’s a lot of great things I can look back to. But there’s also the vivid memory of narrowly escaping an attack by a sexual abuser.
I still remember how it happened.
“Mama, when are you going to come back from the hospital?” I said in my high-pitched toddler voice. She said she’d be back soon, as she walked out of the door with my uncle by her side, to get some routine blood tests done. I walked into the room where my grandmother was laying out her prayer mat.
“Shahbaz, beta just please keep an eye on Momina while I pray,” my grandmother instructed our domestic help.
‘Okay, ammi jee,’ he replied, innocently, even though his brain was brewing heinous thoughts.
And then he did the unthinkable.
That young, adolescent boy – a sexual abuser already – took me to the living room and unveiled all of his “masculine glory”. And even back then, I could sense something was wrong, so before he could do anything else, I ran off into my bedroom and locked the door shut.
I, a six-year-old, didn’t know why or what I was afraid of. But something just seemed terribly off.
My grandmother knocked on the door of my bedroom like a lunatic as she kept asking him why I was this scared. And he lied, over and over again by saying that he had “boo-ed” me out while playing hide and seek.
But the clock was ticking in my favor, and by the time it struck ten, my mother and uncle were home. As soon as I heard my mother’s voice, I jumped into her arms and began bawling my eyes out. She held me tight and began asking me what was wrong. To which I naïvely said, “He showed me his finger”.
“What finger, little one?”, asked my uncle, clearly smelling something fishy. As a response to which, I peaked into my diaper and told him I didn’t have “it.”
This exact “it”, could’ve ruined my entire life. It could’ve killed me or even worse, forced me to live a life filled with uncalled for depression and trauma.
I was immensely lucky to have had the sense to react the way I did, but what if this was someone else? What if the same had happened to an even younger child who couldn’t react in time?
But the real question is, where are the consciences of such predatory pedophiles? They’re so dead on the inside that they fail to see the pain their actions cause for others. They’re so blinded by the wrath of their lust that nothing beyond it makes sense to them. They don’t give a damn about you, me or anybody else. Their sexual desires girdle them to a point where all they want to do is satisfy them.
My innocence was seconds away from being completely taken away. Parts of it had already been stripped away as soon as he decided to pull his pants down. He was beaten to a pulp by my uncle and father. But if you think this is where the story ends, you’re terribly wrong.
The same adolescent boy grew up to become a man who raped his own daughters. So mercilessly, that they both lost their lives at the tender ages of nine and eleven. And when I saw his face printed on the front page of a local newspaper, I couldn’t believe my eyes.
Even though the picture showed him detained, with handcuffs latched onto both wrists and an untamed scruff, he still had that same look in his eyes. That shamelessly unapologetic one which I remember to this day.
It was the kind of look that made it evident just how proud he was of his heinous actions. And even when the men of my family were beating him up, I could spot that same conceited glimmer in his eyes, which I was now staring at through the newspaper.
I suddenly felt guilty and angry. I felt like I could’ve stopped those two girls from dying such painful deaths. If that day, my uncle had reported him, none of this would’ve happened.
Those poor girls wouldn’t even have cried their firsts under the same roof as that barbarian. Before I knew it, my raging thoughts were interrupted.
“Mo, I know what you’re thinking. You feel like killing him, don’t you?”, said my grandma, casually. When I didn’t respond, she proceeded to say “Yeah. Me too.”
And now, another thought was occupying the depths of my brain; maybe I couldn’t have stopped those girls from being born.
Maybe all they needed was someone to unite with them against their father, so they’d know that they weren’t the only ones he had wronged. Maybe that would’ve helped them get over the assault he put them through and maybe just maybe, they’d still be alive.
I didn’t have it in me to go through the harrowing details of how it all went down. Hell, I could barely even feel my legs.
My brain just kept going over what those poor girls would have gone through. And although I hadn’t ever met them, I could somehow hear their screams pulsing through my ears. At that point, all I wanted to do was kill him. I didn’t care if it would send me to jail. The amount of revulsion I felt in that moment, was more than enough for me to get blood on my hands. But I resisted it.
And now, I can gladly say that the 20th of December, 2018 will mark the third anniversary of him being hung to death.
Even now, after justice has been served, the cries for help of those girls ring through my ears.
But what relieves me in such moments, is that I told my uncle what happened. Maybe it wasn’t significant. Perhaps it had no impact on the overall outcome. But I’m glad I spoke up. Because I could. The environment was conducive enough.
However, what about those who don’t or can’t? Are they meant to live in trauma, without any form of justice? Or should they live in fear of being labeled victims? Or worse, live in fear of victim-blaming? When will our society allow victims to proclaim that time truly is up? Perhaps that’s the question we should be focusing on the most.