A small girl. Boisterous yet so meek. Sitting on a bus seat clinging to her Maa, she is scratching the mosquito bite marks from last night. Maa asks her to stop it but she won’t listen. She suddenly remembers what someone in the school told her the other day, “Kids who dislike eating apple are more prone to mosquito bites.” Must be true, she mumbles to herself.
The bus starts off with a sudden jerk. All the passengers in here today are her Maa’s colleagues. They are off to a picnic with their family members. Her Deta (Assamese equivalent for a father) and baby brother sit on the seat adjacent to the little girl and her Maa. She is ecstatic beyond imagination. Although, it is a group of people she doesn’t know properly (except for the fact that she saw a few of them in her Maa’s annual school magazine) she feels happy. It’s their first family picnic together.
Dressed in a black sweater and boyfriend jeans underneath a long brown skirt (weird fashion sense) she keeps fiddling with the orange scarf that is wrapped around her neck.
Just then a lean and tall man approaches Maa. She peeks at him through her scarf. He is ugly-her very first thought. He is Maa’s colleague. After exchanging pleasantries, he offers a chocolate to the small girl. A big curve appears on her face. The man offers Maa to take care of the small girl as her baby brother is throwing a tantrum to sit with Maa. The small girl doesn’t want to leave Maa but she is too good to complain. He takes her to the last seat of the bus. There are three others sitting already so the man places the small girl on his lap and sits at the corner most seat.
Everyone resumes their talk. She takes a bite of the chocolate, but she doesn’t like it. She stands up to look at Maa and Deta,they seem pretty engrossed in their own business. Boringly, she looks out of the window.
All of a sudden something doesn’t feel right. She feels a sting on her flat chest above her sweater. Slowly, the sting shifts to the place she doesn’t like to talk about. She realises that the ugly man is starting to touch her everywhere. She doesn’t like it. She looks out for her Maa. She wants her Maa. This feels uncomfortable, she thinks. But the man pulls her closer and the sting becomes unbearable. Her tiny body trembles like a thin leaf. She becomes oblivious of everything. She can only feel the pain being inflicted on her. Tears roll down her cheeks. She doesn’t even know how to cry out loud. The ugly man wipes off her tears and whispers in her ear to remain still.
He recognises her fears and is using it against her. A naive child in the captivity of a full grown man. His hands are now assaulting her almost bare skin. Astonishingly, no one notices whatever is happening to the small girl. Maa looks back once but before she can see her, the man waves his other hand to Maa signalling everything is fine. The small girl is hurting everywhere even in parts she never knew existed. The torture continues for an hour or so. The small girl loses count of time and tears. Trying to control the pain her little fingers create red dents over the pre- existing mosquito bite marks.
The bus stops. Everyone starts to get down for refreshments. The man brings her back to Maa. “It seems she is not feeling well,” that’s what he says. Deta lifts her up to his arms. Indeed her body is burning. She is feeling sick after everything that she has undergone. Deta’s arms feel like heaven to the small girl. She cries and cries. She can’t utter a word. All she does is let out heart-wrenching cries. Little did her Maa & Deta know, they presume it to be motion sickness. They feel sorry for their small girl.
Everyone is having fun! She can’t. How can she? She feels grimy. God punished her! Should she tell her Deta or should she tell her Maa? No, she can’t. What if they don’t believe her? What if she is the one at fault?
Maa trusts the man. They have always been friends. She’s just a six year old girl. On top of that she still can’t figure out what exactly happened with her? Why did he hurt her? Why did his touch feel so filthy? Why did he even touch her? Is it supposed to be like this?
There he is, heartily laughing acting like nothing happened. The small girl is scared. He resembles the monster who gobbles up kids. She draws herself closer to her Deta.
EPILOGUE- Over the course of time, the small girl had similar nightmarish experiences with two other men in two different scenarios. One a distant cousin and the other her school teacher. Those were the most distressing period of her childhood. She was 10 when she finally understood what these men did to her. They molested her. They were demons in the skin of humans, feeding off small girls. She was left heavily scarred for the rest of her life. She suffered from chronic nightmares. Every sexual assault news piece used to send shivers down her spine. Biology classes made her feel queasy. And still she couldn’t narrate her ordeal to her parents. Maybe someday,she thought! Till then she pretended to fend off those haunting memories when with people and broke down severely when alone.
The small girl grew up to be a blockhead teenage. A mere attraction led her into an abusive relationship. Years later,the ugly dispersal of that immoral person and the arrival of a guardian angle finally taught her of her own worth. Holding his protective hands she has now stepped into adulthood. He accepted her with all her flaws and scars. He loved her and made her love herself too. Leaving behind her dark past, she chose to overcome her inner demons and fears. She gathered enough courage to recount her tragedy to Maa. “Why didn’t I see this coming?” Maa breaks down. Who could have possibly known that even in those days child predators existed? Nothing is going to change. Her scarred childhood won’t be cleansed of those horrible moments but then the woman in her feels at peace knowing she was never at fault. She was only a victim of some disgustingly twisted minded people.
At present, those men are happily married. Ironically, the three of them are blessed with daughters! The small girl in her is still resentful but the woman in her has forgiven the three men. She believes that for the sin they committed God is the only one who can rightfully punish them.
Her only wish- No other small girl should ever go through what I did. God forbid if it so happens then please raise your voice, fight back no matter how little you are. The things they do are wrong and evil.
“I am a scarred survivor. My only fault is that I was too ashamed and afraid to acknowledge my plight.”