That Night in Chittappa’s House

Radhika (11) and Rajani (7) were on a 10-day vacation to their maternal aunt Bhavani’s place in Pune. Bhavani Chitta’s husband Magesh was a senior supervisor in an automobile manufacturing plant. Thus they were staying inside the plant in the official accommodation provided to them. Aditya was their two-year old son. Radhika and Rajani had a wonderful time playing with their young brother.

Magesh was a very religious man and one would always find him reciting shlokas if he is not in his office. A sandalwood tilaka with a kumkum dot in the center of his forehead was one of his traits. He was very helpful to one and all and thus people respected him a lot.

One of those nights, Radhika and Rajani were fast asleep on a mat on the drawing room floor. Radhika felt a touch on her leg which slowly moved upwards. It then pulled her skirt up and reached her thighs. This was it. She knew this was getting dirty. She pulled her skirt down and moved a bit making the man know that she was half awake. His hands then went onto Rajani’s leg and same thing started happening. Radhika who was aware that it was Magesh was now scared for her little sister. She sat up and asked, “Chittappa, why are you not sleeping? If Chitta is awake we want to go and sleep with her. It is scary here.” She didn’t know from where she gathered the courage to say that much. Magesh without saying anything, went out of the room and Radhika bolted the door. As soon as she sat down, Rajani hugged her and started weeping. “Akka, I was scared. Chittappa is bad. He is very bad.

They were to stay for a few more days with their uncle and aunt before they could go back to their parents. Telephone was available but Chitta was always around and for some reason Radhika was not interested in informing Chitta. She just told Chitta that they were scared to sleep alone and that they wanted to sleep with her in her room. Chitta agreed. The next few days in that house seemed the most torturous for those little souls.

Once home, though they wanted to tell their parents about what had happened, they did not. They only spoke about it between themselves and they found solace in each other without disturbing the existing relationship between the families. After that incident there were many occasions when they had to face Magesh. The girls stood together and ignored him as best as possible. But Magesh by now had gained more confidence knowing very well that the girls had not disclosed the incident to anyone. There were a few more attempts made by him, but the girls escaped with each other’s help.

During her college years Radhika experienced an eve-teasing incident which happened in front of their mother Vaidehi. While Vaidehi was telling Radhika and Rajani how to deal with such incidents and how to inform concerned people about it, Radhika informed her mother about the childhood incident in Pune in the presence of Rajani. Vaidehi immediately rubbished them saying it was just a figment of their imagination and that Magesh could never do something like that. She went on to tell the kids that he would have just tried to give them a slight massage. She also told them that it was a sin to blame innocent God-fearing people.

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This was a fictional account to explain issues related to Child Sexual Abuse (CSA).

A few questions:

  • Do you think what Radhika did was the best in her capacity?
  • Do you blame Radhika and Rajani for not raising an alarm?
  • Do you blame Radhika and Rajani for not telling their mother the details well on time?
  • What according to you was Vaidehi supposed to do once she was informed?
  • Was Vaidehi’s stand right?

CSA1

1 out of 7 children are abused. How many do you know? 

1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse.

One out of every three girls will be sexually assaulted by the age of 18.

A third of sexually abused children are keeping a family secret. 

Child Sexual Abuse is hard to talk about for little children. Most children won’t. So we have to.

First and foremost, be a good listener. Let the child know that you trust him/her and that they are your priority. Help the child communicate with you with ease and trust. The child needs to be told that in case any such thing happens, it is not their fault. They don’t have to feel bad or dirty or sinful. It is the abuser who is wrong and who should be punished. Support them to overcome the grief and get over the incident. Remember CSA has long term affects on the personality of a child. 

Tell you child that anything that anyone tells them or does to them saying they should not inform their parents is something that they must inform immediately.  

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Here is a list of things you need to teach your child(ren) at early age:

  1. Warn your girl child never to sit on anyone’s laps no matter the situation including uncles.
  2. Avoid getting dressed in front of your child once he/she is 2 years old. Learn to excuse them or yourself.
  3. Never allow any adult refer to your child as ‘my wife’ or ‘my husband’
  4. Whenever your child goes out to play with friends make sure you look for a way to find out what kind of play they do, because young people now sexually abuse themselves.
  5. Never force your child to visit any adult he or she is not comfortable with and also be observant if your child becomes too fond of a particular adult.
  6. Once a very lively child suddenly becomes withdrawn you may need to patiently ask lots of questions from your child.
  7. Carefully educate your grown-ups about the right values of sex . If you don’t, the society will teach them the wrong values.
  8. It is always advisable you go through any new Material like cartoons you just bought for them before they start seeing it themselves.
  9. Ensure you activate parental controls on your cable networks and advice your friends especially those your child(ren) visit(s) often.
  10. Teach your 3-year old how to wash their private parts properly and warn them never to allow anyone touch those areas and that includes you (remember, charity begins from home
    and with you).
  11. Blacklist some materials/associates you think could threaten the sanity of your child (this includes music, movies and even friends and families).
  12. Let your child(ren) understand the value of standing out of the crowd.
  13. Once your child complains about a particular person, don’t keep quiet about it. Take up the case and show them you can defend them.
  14. Show them this following animated film ‘KOMAL‘ (an initiative by Child Line), which explains Safe Touch and Unsafe Touch in an easy to understand manner.
Hindi Version
English Version

 

It only takes one question, one conversation, one moment to make a positive change in the life of a sexually abused child. Know the signs (Child Sexual Abuse Warning signs). Ask questions. Get help.

 

Remember, we are either parents or parents-to-be.

Care for your Child…Please pass on!

Related posts:

Windchimes of Time

 

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P.S.: Imagine, I’ll have to spend on notepads, pen, refills and most of all how much ink and paper will be wasted. Being an environment-conscious citizen of Hindustan, I completely detest this idea of a pre-computer era. Extremely sorry for the inconvenience caused by reading my poor handwriting, but I had no option but to write this piece in the cab this morning as I completely forgot about this prompt earlier.

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This post is part of the WordPress Daily Prompts : 365 Writing Prompts program where the aim is to post at least once a day based on the prompts that they have provided. Today’s prompt is, Life after blogs : Your life without a computer: what does it look like?”

The author Rekha Dhyani is one of the contributors to the We Post Daily and blogs regularly at Dew Drops. She also shares her lucky clicks at The Crystal Trance

 

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Peace in Chaos

I screamed.

I can’t be a daughter, a wife, a daughter-in-law or a mother all my life. I need some space. I need some peace. I need some time for myself.

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In the evening as I entered the gate of our apartment complex, the watchman informed that the keys are with Suma madam of flat number 503.

I slowly climbed up the stairs and reached the lift. The lift which was otherwise overflowing with all kinds of people was completely empty today. Usually it is filled with children, men and women from the various flats, the elderly, the full-time or part-time maids, pets and so on. An emptiness that was slowly creeping in. Once on the fifth floor I rang the bell of flat number 503. Suma came out with the keys. As I turned towards my flat, she offered to have some coffee with her. I refused citing a headache and told her that I wanted to take a nap.

I slowly opened the door of the flat I had been living in for the past twelve years.

The quiet television screen, the neatly done up room, the well-placed cushions on the couch, the sparkling clean center table, the dining table with just that vase with money plant. Everything looked strange. The family picture on the wall in the dining area looked like it was laughing at my loneliness. It felt like they were all shouting, “This is the peace, the space, the time that you were yearning for…right??? Now enjoy it.”

I kept my handbag on the center table and threw myself on the relaxing chair. I thought the rocking chair might get me some sleep. I was wrong. I picked up myself bit by bit and went into the bed room. For some reason, the neatly folded blankets and beautifully spread bedspread made me irritated. I pulled open the window curtain. It was dark outside but the moon was shining brightly which brought in some soothing moonlight. A few seconds later, I felt uneasy. I went in and took a shower. I called out, “Priya, get me my towel. I forgot to pick it up.”  There was no answer in return. Then I saw the towels neatly stacked in the bathroom itself.

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Picture Courtesy: Google Image Search

I went into the kitchen and made myself a cup of piping hot filter kaappi (coffee). I went and sat beside the window overlooking the beach. Today is a full-moon day. People have thronged to the beach with friends and families. The beach is crowded on weekends. Especially Fridays. Working couples pour in thousands to spend some peaceful time together on the beach. I never understood the need for a couple to come to the beach for finding time for each other. I always wondered why do they need such a crowded place to sit together. Isn’t the house much better? Manish had always wanted us to go on long walks on the beach on weekends. I had always and always refused saying I had lots of work unlike him.

Hours passed as I sat there and then suddenly I looked at the watch. It was 8.42 p.m. I was already late. I had to give Appa his medicines half an hour before he took his dinner. I almost got up from the chair when I realized the void around me. I anyway stood up and went into the kitchen. On the gas burner Amma had left my favourite Sundakkai Vatha Kuzhambu (turkey berry gravy), rice, parippu (Dal) and three appalams (Papadum) in a plastic container. I filled my plate and went and sat on the dining table. I took my first bite and struggled to finish it. Tears were rolling down my cheeks non-stop. No. I wasn’t crying. I can’t cry. I am strong. This was my decision. This is what I had always wanted. I always knew that I was my closest friend. And I wanted to spend some time with myself. Isn’t it?

Four days passed like four generations. The void was killing me every single second.

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Manish had sent Amma and Appa to his sister’s place in Pollachi. Our daughter Priya had been on a four-day long school excursion to Coorg. Manish had planned it out well. He stayed at the office guest house in the same city closer to his office for the four days.

He reached back with the girls in the afternoon and hurriedly went out again. Two hours later he returned with Amma and Appa. In the evening when I reached the door of the house and heard Yesudas’s Shri Krishna Sharanam fusion with Michael Jackson, I smiled to myself. Amma opened the door with her smiling face as always. Appa was lying on the relaxing chair trying to concentrate on Shri Krishna Sharanam. Priya was lying on the floor with the cushions all around her. Her books were overflowing on the center table. After drinking the glass of Chukku Vellam (dry ginger water) that Amma had brought for me I rushed into the bedroom. Manish was taking a shower. I eagerly waited outside. As soon as he got out I hugged him tightly from behind. I didn’t want to let go of him but he pushed me aside. I knew he was hurt. Deeply hurt. I said I was sorry. His annoyance was genuine. I quickly crossed my arms, touched my ears and started doing the hundred and one squats that I generally do in front of Lord Vinayaka on Wednesdays. This is exactly how we would make up with each other during the initial years of our married life. Manish stopped me and pulled me closer. He said,

Shalini, I hope you understood what I wanted to convey. It is easy to demand for peace, space or time. But it takes a lot of maturity to understand what exactly is our meaning of peace, space or time. I always knew that your love for everyone is genuine. You cared for everyone, but what you needed was some ‘me’ time and some ‘us’ time. But not at the cost of this ‘we’ time. Isn’t it?”

I nodded in agreement with eyes filled with tears. He kissed my forehead and as we got out of the room a cushion thrown by Appa at Priya came flying and hit us. This chaos is where I found my peace and my space.

One thing I clearly understood that day: my closest friend is my family.

Nobody else was a hindrance for me, but my own self. I never prioritized myself and thus the unnecessary outburst.

To make the right choices in life, you have to get in touch with your soul. To do this, you need to experience solitude, which most people are afraid of, because in the silence you hear the truth and know the solutions.

― Deepak Chopra

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This post is part of the WordPress Daily Prompts : 365 Writing Prompts program where the aim is to post at least once a day based on the prompts that they have provided. Today’s prompt is, A friend in need : Finish this sentence: “My closest friend is…”

The author Rekha Dhyani is one of the contributors to the We Post Daily and blogs regularly at Dew Drops. She also shares her lucky clicks at The Crystal Trance