“Can I love again?” she asked me. I couldn’t reply. She was just eleven, maybe twelve but the scars on her face and the sorrow in her eyes spoke volumes. I was looking at a victim, another victim.
Her mother had passed away when she was young. Poor angel, she had no memory of her. Born in a poor family, she had to forego the education that she wanted. She had to stay at home while her father drove his rickshaw to earn some money to support them.
In troubled times, her father took loans and got himself indebted to many creditors. Being hounded by them, he began slowly losing his mind and took to drink often. In his intoxicated state, he began verbally abusing her. She began fearing him, but he never laid a hand on her. He never scolded her when he knew what he was saying.
Loneliness began to feel attractive to her. She never feared her father then. She faced the day gladly, no one to scold her if she broke a pot or spilt something. Yet all that changed two weeks back.
Drunk, her father was brought home by her neighbor. She went away to the kitchen, allowing her neighbor to put her father to bed. She heard the door shut and thought he had gone out. But a moment later his hand muffled her mouth.
As she struggled against his hold, he dragged her to the room. She saw her father lying passed out on the sofa cushions. Her muffled voice never reached him, and the door shut the next minute. Silencing her with one hand, he groped and touched her. A few minutes, and her dreams lay broken before her eyes.
Before he went, he warned her of dire consequences if she blabbed to anyone about what had happened. She knew she couldn’t tell of her innocence being lost so early. She kept her silence praying that was the end of it. But he returned again every night that week, catching her from behind while her father lay intoxicated again. She could not take it any longer.
Unwilling to get herself hurt again, she bit into his hand, drawing blood and running as fast as she could to wherever her little feet would take her. She found refuge at a doctor’s place, and the doctor sent her to Child Services.
Sitting before me, she looked small. Her eyes pleaded for an answer that I could not give her. We had taken a pledge to stop Child Abuse, but no one had truly made an impact for the cause. Time had implored us to unite, is the time now?
Even as she walked away, my heart missed a beat thinking of the many others who suffer never having spoken up. Their silence is from fear, yet we take it for granted and continue the heinous act. Perhaps soon, we’ll hear time and unite, ending the vile act once and for all.