Monday, July 6, 2009

An Angel Without Wings

Let's just call him Ajay.

An ordinary Indian name for an ordinary Indian boy.

When he was 5 years old, his dad was posted in a small town in the Arabian Sea coast. Like all ordinary boys, he loved to play on the beach, kick some ball with his dad, and fish.Or at least he pretended to. He could never handle the slimy bait and hated holding the wriggling fish. The mother generally sat a little far away, smiling indulgently at the father and the son. An ordinary family, doing ordinary things together. Can you see them? Walking hand in hand?

They lived in a nice house in a quiet area. Though they lived far away from their family, they had many good friends and they had fun going on picnics and long drives. Ajay was very happy as he was the only child there and everyone spoiled him terribly.

One day, his father brought a nice young man home. He must have been around 23. He had just got a job there but he was yet to find a place to stay. Being a good person, Ajay's dad thought the young man could stay with them till he found a suitable accommodation. Ajay was ecstatic. He was yet to start school. This man, whom he called 'Bhaiya' ( elder brother) was his new play mate. They would play cricket in the lobby, fly a kite on the streets and just chat sometimes. The young man would often bring some books for him and read out those stories to him. Ajay had not yet learned to read. The family of 3 gradually became a family of 4, without anyone realising it. Perhaps you can see them now, walking on the beach, laughing and talking and flying kites.

Then one day, the young man bought a new story book. In the evening, when the mother was cooking, the man started to read to Ajay. The book at first did not make any sense to the little boy. It talked about men and women doing strange things. In the book, which had some pictures, ( Ajay loved stories with pictures) the men and women did not wear clothes. The man became strangely excited reading the story and asked Ajay to climb up onto his lap so that he could see the pictures better. Ajay did not like this story at all, but he kept quiet. Bhaiya was his friend and he did not want to disappoint him. And since bhaiya trusted him to keep this their little secret, for the first time, Ajay did not tell his mother what the story was all about.

Slowly their games changed. Instead of playing football and cricket, bhaiya started playing with his body. He would ask Ajay to sit on his lap and touch him at shameful places. He would often ask Ajay to do the same. The little boy was confused. He did not like these new games anymore but was too scared to say no. He wanted bhaiya's love and approval. And what if his parents came to know? Will they think he wanted to play such games? May be he did... may be he was a bad boy who deserved what bhaiya was doing to him . If his parents came to know his shameful behaviour, surely he would be sent away to a hostel.

He would now panic when the man called him to read out a story. But on those rare occasions, when the young man would play cricket, he would also cautiously but trustingly reach out to hold his hands. And some days, that same man, would smile and coerce him to do things which made him feel dirty. He now started washing his mouth and hands rigorously with soap when he bathed.

Some days, when things became too painful, he would just curl up on his bed and pretend to sleep. There were so many things going on in his mind. He wanted to tell his mom and dad what was happening to him. He wanted them to make him feel better. He wanted to tell them that he was feeling broken, just like that superman figure with a broken limb that he had. But his parents never noticed any thing. He felt enraged and often burt out in tears, but his parents just dismissed his outbursts as a normal temper tantrum of a 6 year old boy. He hated his parents. And he hated the world. He no longer laughed when he walked on the beach. And he no longer wanted to fly any kites. He withdrew to his own isolated world, with his guilt, shame and confusion. His parents, who never dreamed someone could ever damage their little angel, who never thought such predators even existed in their normal, happy world, were blissfuly unaware of their little boy's trauma and sorrow. They never came to know the reason for their precious child's sudden abnormal behaviour.

Ajay exists. He is my friend from college. Although he is no longer prone to violent outbursts and depression, he continues to believe that he played an integral part in this abuse. He blames himself for any physical contact between him and his abuser, although he knows he was only 5. And the man was 23. I always thought, perhaps like a lot of you, sexual abuse happens to only girls. His story changed my belief. Our children, both boys and girls are equally vulnerable to sexual abuse. Everyday, some child below the age of 10 falls prey to such despicable behaviour and does not know who to turn to. Most children know their abusers. They are simply unable to cope with such repeated sexual offence by someone they trusted and end up with long lasting scars.
Please believe your child if he comes up to you and reports such behaviour.Teach him the difference between good touch and bad touch. Tell him his body belongs to only to him and no one else. Nobody has the right to touch or harm him. Never take it for granted that the child will come and tell you anyting. Tell him that you are there to listen about any behaviour of an adult which he finds uncomfortable. Please be alert.
And most important, please do not blame him. It was never his fault.

61 comments:

Tararumpumpum said...

Hmmm... sensitive topic, sensitively handled... I am sure a lot of men who read your blog will have similar stories to tell. And touch, well yes, I believe all of us have that sixth sense to tell a good touch from a bad touch... But, most of us end up keeping our lips sealed because of our stupid social norms and embarrassment.

SGD said...

A very real and scary issue...
I am so petrified, Aparna, whenever I have to leave my little girl alone in the care of someone...worries of this kind are always ticking at the back of my mind..

Why I wonder are some people so disgustingly sick....

ZiLliOnBiG said...

this is very real, infact much more rampant than people generally perceive. Very well narrated.

sujata said...

This is something that we always feel happens to the other kid, the one staying at the corner of the road. We know its there, but we can never believe that its there maybe in our own homes, our kids maybe are going through sexual abuse right now. Lets get out of denial and act. What you say is so real.

Parita said...

Very well written Aparna, such incidents have become very common these days and it scares the hell out of me!

Zeba Talkhani said...

ohhhhhh wow. That was scary.

Thanks for sharing.

Pradip Biswas said...

This boy like many others kept silent and his parents could not read his change of physical reactions.The young man took chance of all these.

Nona said...

Thought-provoking and disturbing at the same time. Thanks for sharing the story. After being a parent, I'm paranoid all the time. Then again, better be paranoid than make an young one go through these!

Sharmila said...

Can't write anything on this right away Aparna. Touching.

Miss M said...

Oh my God.

I.... don't know what to say.
This story is so heart-breaking. My thoughts go out to Ajay. Although I think he finds it very difficult to get over this trauma, still, I hope slowly and by each passing day it becomes easier for him to deal with this.

Please do let him know that we all are very sorry to hear this.

Jaadi said...

That was an excellent post Aparna. many people know of these things, but dont want to discuss/educate the people around. I am glad you did. Child abuse is the worst and it changes their whole life and perception. Unfortunately the elders never realize that.I am not sure how predominant these incidents were some 2-3 decades back, but we hear a lot of them these days and yes, it is our moral duty to inform our kids about this. I wonder during those days, when the literacy rate was much lower than what it is now, we still had better morals than what we have now.

Lazyani said...

A touching post Aparna about a topic which all of us tend to turn a blind eye to.

My first visit and comment on your site. Would definiely come back.

Sumandebray said...

Aparna, the message has been put forward very delicately. It is unfortunate that children are abused by the very people they know and trust. In my opinion such villains in disguise should be exposed. Your narration reminded me of a similar incident in the movie by the name of The Monsoon Wedding.
We have to be always very careful and more importantly watchful and aware.

lala said...

you know, every 4th crime against a child is sexual abuse. there are way more people with such a past than anyone can imagine... i'm sure 'Ajay' will read this. I hope he knows that he is not alone. is it ok if i provide a link to this post on my blog?

Swatantra said...

Hi Aparna,

Beautiful Written!!

Aparna said...

@ Tararumpumpum, yes, subconciously we all know the difference between a safe touch and an unsafe touch, but it helps when a parent tells you that nobody has any right to touch your body in a wrong manner.

@ SGD, meet another paranoid parent.I refuse to let my elder daughter go anywhere without me and she vehemently opposes this. She will perhaps get my paranoia once she is older.

@ Zillionbig, thank you. Yes, it is widely spread but as my friend says tararumpumpum says, we keep our lips sealed.

@ Sujata, true we are all living in denial. This is happening to somebody we know right now.

@ Parita, thank you. It is indeed scary.

@ Zeba, hi. Thank you.

Aparna said...

@ Pradip Biswas,the man not only abused the family's trust but also hurt them in the worst possible way. Thank you for writing in.

@ Nona, please be paranoid. It is better than being sorry later.

@ Sharmila, yes I know it was disturbing. Thanks for writing in.

@ Miss M, thanks for your concern. Do keep in touch.

@ Jaadi, this incident actually took place 3 decades ago. Perhaps if the mother was more aware, this would not have occured. She just did not know such things happened.

Aparna said...

@ Lazyani, thank you for your comment. I hope you will visit again.

@ Sumandebray, yes, being aware and vigilant would always save a lot of 'Ajays' of the world.These heinous crimes against children take place everyday and we should always expose such people.

@ lala, please go ahead and link this. The more people who read such things, the better it is.

@ Swatantra, thank you.

PURN!MA said...

That was a hair-raising story! It is a matter of grave concern for parents... with soo many incidents that we get to hear; now; so often...Its petrifying!

Sai Charan... said...

I'm really out of words after reading this post. Don't know what to say - How can a person exploit a child's innocence so vulgarly??

Honestly, I have never heard of such an incident as disturbing as this one before and how can a 6 year old boy keep quiet and bear the pain alone? - very depressing incident.

I find it hard to believe that the boy stayed so silent without telling anything to his parents. Generally kids of his age tell about almost anything and everything to their mothers.

It is so very unfortunate that such incidents happen - I feel very sorry for Ajay. Did Ajay meet the accused again?

And your effort to take up this topic and clearly explain it as a blog post is a very appreciable move.

R.Ramakrishnan said...

Hi Aparna
A very serious subject narrated delicately & sensitively. A very true but scary story - little helpless, defenceless boys & girls are being traumatised every day by strange young men & women - and they remain scarred for the rest of their lives. This is a Social evil which needs to tackled headon. These sensitive subjects must be discussed more openly and parents must warn children against such unwarranted advances from strange persons. And advise them to report such indiscretions immediately without shame or fear of punishment.
The perpretrators of such crimes must receive harsh punishment as a deterrent for others.
Kudos for the excellent presentation of an important social evil.
God Bless You.
Ram

numerounity said...

very well written!!!

Rohit said...

very nicely written indeed Aparna.

BK Chowla said...

Shameful.Elders and parents must never lose sight of going-ons with growing up children around.

Babli said...

I appreciate for your beautiful post as you have narrated the true fact.Lot of incidents occur nowadays and it is a matter of great concern for every parents.

unsungpsalm said...

Oh ouch! That really was a very rotten thing to happen... but yes, common...

Priya said...

Aparna...with every post you command more respect than ever...In this post i appreciate the way you have brought out two things into light..."sexual abuse" and "words of children often taken for granted".

Tararumpumpum said...

I have been reading comments to your blog with great interest. Surprisingly, not many men replying!! Well, the truth, according to me is that all men have double standards and that includes me. All of us are sinners and all of us have a dark side to us which we try to camouflage by acting suave and sophisticated and by putting up a very cultured front. I bet that all the men who are writing in here have had similar thoughts cross their minds at some stage of their lives. Give a man a glass of whiskey and a bunch of male friends and then watch the animal side of him come out. I have seen the most sophisticated and cultured men turn into wolves, at least in their thoughts, at male-bonding sessions. Any man who says he's never had such thoughts cross his mind is lying through his teeth. Why do you think child pornography is one of the most lucrative businesses all over the world? Why do you think incest is such a huge reality of our lives? To all the women who think that their husbands are the most naive creatures on earth and to all sisters who think their Bhaiyas can't do no wrong ever, wake up, the real vultures are living in your own house... telling your kids about the outside world is just one part of the story... what about the beasts living within your four-walls?? Who will tame them??

Sucharita Sarkar said...

You are so right about the concern, because what generally happens is that, not that we are not aware of such cases, but that we feel that THIS CANNOT HAPPEN TO US OR IN OUR FAMILY. Even I sometimes feel it is this way, because the opposite is just too traumatic and horrible. But this post has opened my eyes, and I will definitely be more careful. Although my spouse and I take pains to teach my daughter about 'bad touching ' and ask her always to come to us and tell us if such things happen to them, I at least, need to be more alert.

Aparna said...

Hi, Purnima, this incident happened long back and unfortunately parents were not aware of such cases. Thanks to media the parents now are more clued in. This is reality and it happens all around us. People just dont want to discuss it.

Hi Sai Charan, thank you for appreciating my post. Yes children that age tend to discuss everything with their parents, but in such cases, most of them withdraw into a shell. They feel too ashamed to talk about it.

Hello R. Ramakrishnan, yes cases of child abuse is rampant but we like to believe it does not happen to us or in our so called good families. It is also true that even if the child comes forward and reports such behaviour to the parents, the parents tend to supress such matters.Thank you for your appreciation.

Thank you numerounity and Rohit

Aparna said...

@ B.K. Chawla, Yes I agree parents need to be aware of whats happening around their children.

@ Babli, thank you for your appreciation.

@ unsungpsalm, thank you for dropping by. Incidents like these are shameful but common.

@ Priya thank you. I am honoured.

Nazish Rahman said...

I think its the responsibility of the parents to see if their child is going through any of these...wearing blinkers wont help them to know what problem the kid is going through.

Many people have gone through this sexual abuse some know it and some still dont know.

One should never leave a child with someone blindly. One should always believe their children and make an atmosphere where the kid is able to share all problems with their parents. There should be no communication barrier.

Aparna said...

@ Tararumpumpum, are you saying that all men entertain the thoughts of sexually abusing children? I find that difficult to believe and if that is true then that is scary.But I know such monsters exist in every family. Incest also is common. You only have to talk to a few social workers to know that. What bugs me is that we just tend to shove this issue under a carpet and refuse to discuss it.
As you can see, even women have not written in. And I know for a fact that every woman, sometime or the other,has faced some kind of sexual abuse, whether verbal or physical.

@ Sucharita, please be alert all the time. This happens everywhere, even in our own families. We just dont know it.

sujata said...

Further to what @tararumpumpum said I would like to say that probably all of us male or female has an untamed beast lurking within us, I do not know about male bonding sessions, but am definitely not naive enough to believe that the men within our four walls are beyond temptation. Taming the beasts may not be in our hands, but teaching our kids to be aware of such beasts is definitely something which we can do. getting out of denial is the first step towards it. to teach a kid that his/her body is precious and nobody has the right to touch it without consent is very necessary.

Tararumpumpum said...

@ Aparna... Well, to my mind..entertaining such thoughts?, a resounding yes...there could be exceptions to the rule..but by and large, all men have entertained such thoughts, covertly or overtly... fortunately for the society... few act on it, most don't. And my argument goes with the grain of your thought ... that every woman has faced some kind of sexual abuse, whether verbal or physical.
@ Sujata..yes we have to teach our children to be alert. Also, expose the men who act on their wild thoughts and expose them mercilessly(I know it is easier said than done, but yeah.. we need to make a beginning)

How do we know said...

Holy God No! Tell Ajay that he was not responsible at all... he was just a victim thats all..

This story is proof of something that i have been saying for a long time now - Childhood sexual abuse is not limited to girls. In fact, it is more rampant among boys and lots more under-reported. We need to take care of our boys as much as our girls.

Take something simple - if a guest touches a little girl's parts.. it is unthinkable, but all and sundry find it ok to touch a little male child and to make jokes about "the little finger" all the time..

Thank you for bringing it to the fore..

SJ said...

Its scary but very real. This was some random outsider how about people in the family like uncles and dad who do this type of sick things. Blegh they want to make me puke.

As usual well written!

Meira said...

Shudder! If only I could lay my hands on his parents, not to have noticed anything amiss in their only child! I wish Ajay would stop thinking of it as his fault. It isn't.

Prathik said...

Despicable!! Thats all I can say!!
How can we really prevent these from happening??Am not a big fan of getting the small child to speak out.. the kid cant be responsible for what happens to him/her!

Its a shuddering thought!! These pedophiles crawl among us.. Gosh!!

Sakshi said...

It takes me time to respond to such topics as I always shudder and remember things that happened in the four walls around my own huge joint family house. What enraged me was the attitude of the female members of my family when we complained about one of our little maid servant's daughter being touched at the wrong places by one of our very own Uncle.. The women folk always said that we are being naughty and that we can't talk abt our respected Uncle like that..it was so repulsive to me even at that young age. All I could do was keep the little gal who was around my age (8 or 9 I think) very near me all the time when we played so that no one could touch her but it was just a temporary thing as I used to visit my native place only for the summer holidays.

It always baffles me how when our kids are a little dull or inactive we can sense that they are falling sick yet we fail to notice the greater change in his character and personality after being sexually abused. Why is that the motherly instinct is not there in such cases?

Aparna a very well written article and I hope we all are able to spread a protective blanket over all those little angels who are in danger of ending up with broken wings even before they are ready to spread them...

shilpa said...

thank you for such a topic to be discussed its a good awareness

Neel said...

@Aparna,

Didi ...very scary and very true..
Our country is just waking up to the existence of such perverts in our society..being a parent myself..I am always telling my child that she needs to let us know if somebody is violating her space..

@TaraRumPumPum,

I have to seriously disagree with you..if you are insisting that it is normal for men to entertain thoughts about children..
Men having stray thoughts about other women..very much possible...its the natural male-female things....but kids!!!..I hope these men get a hold of themselves and see a shrink ASAP.

JD said...

very well written aparna.. These things are so common and yet people ignore them, at times coz of shame or embarrasement.
But, you rightly said that parents should never ignore what their kid tells them.. your friend is a brave man to have overcome his fears and is also lucky to have friends with whom he could share his trauma..

eye-in-sty-in said...

Am speechless!

(thanks for making me read this!)

Jyothi said...

This is a very serious issue. Every parent in the past few generations have been paranoid because of this.

Kids don't realize this when the parents tell them to be careful. The world is full of perverts.

Mom's used to worry about the kids generally round about the ages of 11-13 and above.But now the age is no bar and neither is the sex.How do you make a 5 year old boy/girl understand this? We live in denial, it can't happen to our loved ones. But back of our minds, every person our child gets exposed to is a possible sinner.We conveniently forget to think the same about family members. Nuclear families are a boon in this case. Never open your doors to anyone,however nice you think he/she is. Home has to be the safe haven for all kids.We need to make sure it remains that way.

I had written a post about girl child long ago..before I actually started exploring the blogging world...do read it...

http://lifedoeshaveameaning.blogspot.com/2009/04/birth-of-daughter.html

Rajesh said...

Very touchy issue. Such insane acts on innocent people, leads to mental trauma.

Tararumpumpum said...

@ neel... as I said... I feel all men are perverts and the slimiest creatures on earth... without exception..and any man who wants to argue on this ...is a liar and a bigger pervert... I rest my case.

Aparna said...

@ Nazish Rehman, yes the main responsibility lies with the parent to protect the children at any cost. The communication should always remain open and at no point they should blame the children.

@ How do we know, our boys are equally vulnerable.People just dont think so. I have seen many parents being casual about the safety of their boys, where as they are extremely protective of their girls.

@ SJ, most cases actually it is a person known to the child. Could be the father, uncle, cousin or some family friend.

@ Meira, in this case, I too would blame the parents. They should have been more aware. But most children, who have been sexually abused also tend to think it was to some extent their fault.

@ Prathik, how can we prevent this from happening? By being alert all the time and never to expose our children to any danger. By drilling in the child the concept of good touch and bad touch and also reporting such behaviour of an adult to authorities.

Aparna said...

@ Sakshi, thank you for writing in. You are the only one who said it happened in your family. I know for sure it has happened in mine. We just like to pretend that our 'respected' uncles or any other family members are beyond all sins. We are living in denial all the time.

@ Shilpa, thank you.

@ Neel, so finally Lexington Kentucky arrived on my blog! Welcome! Yes we are always in a state of paranoia when it comes to such issues regarding our children. Take care of your precious baby.

@ JD,thank you for writing in. I can only hope that people become more cautious about the safety of their children.

@ Eye-in-sty-in, thank you.Where were you all these days?

@ Jyothi, will definitely read your post. And keep your children safe.

@ Rajesh, thank you.

@ Tararumpumpum, Not a single man has denied your allegations. I do not know what to make of this. I only hope what you said is not true.

eye-in-sty-in said...

Busy with real life !
Dont ask.... Grrrrrrrrrrrrr! Already my mood;s changing..... :-|

Onkar said...

You have raised a very important issue. This has been going on for ages, but no one dares talk about it. And yes, you are right, a five year old cannot be at fault.

Chriz said...

touched. yes kids are on the receiving side for sometime now.. STOP CHILD ABUSE NOW

sangeeta said...

tracked you from swatantra's blogroll n am happy i did so...
you have put up the emotions of the boy very sensibly n beautifully.....you know, the most unfortunate thing is that the most sensible of the parents sometimes treat their children as if they don't have their own mind.....small children should be respected like any other adults.....any other self respecting human being.....
parents can even understand their child's problem by just observing their body language...and when they (children)say something , it has a meaning.........though sometimes the words are not exactly the same what they mean....parents need to be careful n sensitive....sexual abuse of small children spoils their personality most of the times but that can be averted for sure.......also, Ajay should not feel sorry for himself.....every child is so pure at heart ....how could he know what was the right thing to do when the parents seemed ignorant of all this...

Rachna said...

I am happy you brought it up. I am also teaching my elder son the same thing since he turned five. Also add that even parents do not have the right to touch their child's private parts unless he asks them to for some reason.

The world is becoming a scarier place and we have to question every gesture of every stranger who interacts with our children. I think the key is building trust with your kids, educating them on key issues and communication. I think you are just like me, you have an opinion on everything :). Are you a Scorpion by any chance LOL!

shankar.n said...

tats sorry state of affairs.. every where. these kinda innocent victims do exist.. wat more.. very later only they realise that they were a victim of a child abuse... such is the mind of some morons who use these innocent kids....

even a report from a magazine says that atleast 50% of the kids were subject to sexual abuse atleast once in their life... very pathetic

Anyway.. nice writeup and an eyeopener for parents to warn/teach their kids about these kinda happenings

trippinwithrip said...

thank you for this poignant, yet disturbing piece. it had to be written. you managed to do so eloquently and with respect. i enjoyed your post.

Amitabha Ghosh said...

Touching and impressive

ani_aset said...

i'm glad you wrote this story aparna. Like you said, many don't believe that sexual abuse happens with both boys and girls.

Margaret said...

I came across this through the link on Lala's post Aparna.

I'm very glad you have the courage to write about this topic. What's makes these abuses so sad is that the child always feels guilty as if he's the one who's doing something wrong and is affected for life.

I see you read my short story on the same topic on my blog. Thanks for leaving a comment.

Parents need to give their children the assurance that they can come to them about anything. And parents need to be aware of changes their child's behaviour.

Joyeeta said...

Thank you so much Aparna for caring enough to put this down. Hoping this touches and heals somebody's silent, invisible wounds.

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