I was 5 when I was sexually abused.
I lived in a joint family, and had a male servant who used to take care of me. My mother was a busy daughter-in-law in a joint family system, and my father worked out of town. Even so, he sure was my hero.
The Enfield motorcycle he rode, fascinated me no end. I wanted to ride the bike like my dad. but I could not. It frustrated me. That’s when my caretaker told me he had the perfect medicine for it.
I was taken to a dark empty room in the huge family house. He told me the medicine he had would only work if I kept it a secret. He then pulled down my pants, and abused me. It hurt me no end, but I bravely bore it. After all, I was on my way to becoming like my father.
The abuse continued. So did the pain.
After a long time, I was still unable to ride the bike. That really upset me, and I told my mother about how the medicine didn’t work. She stopped the caretaker from coming home, but also punished me for getting into ‘mischief’.
Slowly, I created this dark well to numb my pain. It took me away from people. I became lonely, isolated and very scared. My loneliness made me a writer. But this is not how it should have been, because in the process I also isolated myself from reality. I was too scared to trust, too scared to come out.
Then I met my wife 9 years ago. As a survivor of abuse, she shared the same pain. Slowly, she built trust inside of me. She helped me heal, helped me find the courage to come out, and live life. Her efforts inspired me, and together, we started The Hands of Hope Foundation, to address sexual abuse on children.
I am still a work in progress. Healing takes time. But I have come a long way from the isolation I used to feel. I realized the world is a good place too. Not everyone is ‘The Caretaker’. I can trust again. I can help others trust again too.
Rajeev Pandey, 40 years, Writer/Author, Mumbai