Can I be the Last Victim, Please?
I’ve spent two decades of my life trying to love myself, to embrace my sexuality, to fit in, and aboveall, to live shame-less ly. Facing in that direction, few of you must have known by now that I came up with a chapbook- a collection of few of my poems, where I talk about growing up as a sexually abused victim, of relationships and longings.
We are no strangers to sexual abuse, whether you admit it or not. From an uncle grabbing our ass/boobs to male friends trying reach into our underpants, from cousins exploring their sexual desires with you to respected teachers trying to teach you sex himself, without consent. How much more distressing is it when all of these happens to a young child who knows not what consent is; Who is yet to comprehend the act; Whose emotions are still in the growing years.
The first time I was abused, I remembered it as an act I did not like. But what would I know? I was so young, I was still working on the rhymes of A for Apple, B for Boy. I refuse to go back to date it, put a face to the offender(s) and relive the anxiety. At that time I was living with my grandmother who, for the life of her, couldn’t have imagined that happening to me; and also because these abusers, they are smart, I’ll give them that- unsuspecting.
At multiple stages, I was subjected to it, by different men, from insiders to outsiders maybe because I did not shout and run. At some point of time, I began to think maybe that was what everyone else did. Oh! How it breaks my heart, the innocense. Only in my teens did I realise what a ‘CRIME’ it was, I learned that such acts were called ‘RAPE’ and ‘MOLESTATION’. But by the time I learned of it, they had begun teaching that ‘virginity is a virtue‘. I cannot begin to comprehend how I let those words work its trick on me, to think that I was outcasted, to think I was guilty. What a shame that society drove me into feeling guilty for a crime I did not commit.
For the majority of my life, I have always lived (almost) alone, and that in a way urged me to live in the present and future, and not in the past. For me, the way to cope with this self-hate was to be as good as everyone else so I learned to fight my fears, I strived to excel in whatever I did; I thought that being excellent in everything would be my salvation. Looking back, I realise what a stupid idea it was but then this did save me and moulded me into what I am today.
This emotional trauma has led me to realise that everything heals, in time. Some days, the pull to fall into desolation is strong but my urge to live is stronger. And conversations like these, they are my shrink.
Like I write in my poems, I am not sad for what happened, the aftertaste of sadness is too bitter. I only wish we, as a community, as a parent, as family, as friends, would start to notice the shadows in the dark, to catch the flicker of fears dancing in the victim’s eyes, to begin to break the shame. Maybe then we can have one less victim, one less monster, and save one more soul.
Do you know how much shame and guilt any abused victims braved to be able to live like everyone else? It’s an absolute divine luxury to be able to love oneself, to be happy. I used to seek refuge in lovers but now I find refuge in myself. I have taken back and embraced my sexuality that was once snatched from me. I am wholly myself, just the way I was created to be.
And just as in the same book I also talk about relationships- falling in love, falling out of it, longings, I hope these poems seek out survivors and remind them that in spite of it all, we are entitled to love, lust and live. There is absolutely no shame in honesty, and I am the proof.
There is a small interaction session happening on Friday- 8th- NorthEast Flavours, Green Park, generously hosted by the Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights. You are welcome to join us. Copies of the chapbook will be made available there.