Life Is Not Meant To Be Traveled Backwards

7 minutes
Of all the senses we are gifted with, touch is the only one that requires another human being in all its beautiful and not-so-beautiful variations. But what makes this most comforting sense as one of the most dreaded and terrible forces to be encountered with?


ForceHow this force is capable of manipulating the very existence of you and I, is worth a story.
Graphic by: Swekriti Bhatnagar

I know of someone, a close friend of mine, who shared her tale of this force in a heart wrenching tale. At a tender age of 8, Anya was first abused sexually by a distant relative, whose name or face she cannot recall. He did not manage to force himself on her, because she got scared and ran off to the bathroom.  Because he had touched her there. But she reminded him in her innocence, that God will punish him for what he did, the next day.  

The memory, she says, still makes her wonder if that is the reason she cannot trust men completely. My friend is quite pretty, with big brown eyes, and ivory skin which can tempt anyone to touch her. Adding to that, she has a quick smile on her lips, which is today’s world, could be both bane and boon. She was also extremely sharp and focused on her academic as well as extra-curricular life. She was a good person. Too innocent though for her own good.


Seeing her, I was worried that she may breakdown recounting her tale of harassment, but she could speak about them calmly, though I did notice goose bumps running all over her arms as she continued. At 14, her favorite cousin uncle, not much older than her had pushed her against the wall and felt her up, his hand over her mouth. She pushed him and ran down the stairs, yelling at her mother that she needed to take bath immediately. She says, she is thankful that she never saw him again. I asked her what if she did. She said, she wouldn’t care as she has learned to deal with it. It was not her fault. Something however, she said, had fundamentally changed in her as she faced such issues at the hands of the known people, trustworthy people again and again. She told me that now, she feels it like there is a massive intimacy problem with her, as any kind of proximity with another guy makes her want to flee. I said I understood, but somewhere deep down I was worried that a pattern was getting established. I hoped I was wrong.


Years passed that we moved on with our lives, when she informed with that she had taken a job of a professor at a new institute, and the colleagues were brilliant, few of them from her school days. She was exuberant, and I was happy to hear that note of vibrancy in her. Few months down the line, she calls me up and tells me that she has good news and a bad news. I ask her to give me the bad news first, a block of ice dropping into my gut. She said she had a fall out with a senior, and that I should guess what would have led to it. For the first time, I heard her sob like a helpless being.


“What happened, Anya?” I ask, recalling how this senior was brotherly to her, and served as her mentor during her pre-competitive examinations period. I had met him. He definitely did not appear like the kind of man he had become.


“He used the pure bond we had to bully me. He kept asking whether I dated someone or whether I had any experience in physical domain. I…he was so subtle that I did not find it awkward at first. He used to encourage me to do better all the time. How would I have ever know what awaited me?” She sobbed. A tremble in her voice told me that this time, she had been broken, and her trust lay in smithereens. I held my breath as she regained her voice.  


“One day, he came from behind and stood real close to me, asking me about how the classes were going. The ones I taught. I shuddered but the position was such, I could not move. And then he turned me around and pressed his lips to mine. There were other people around, but no one could see. I froze and tears welled up in my eyes.” He just said, “Nothing happened. You are too innocent. Forget about this.”  I could not believe what had happened. And then he tried touching me over and over again on various occasions.


“How long did this continue?” I whisper.


“Few weeks.  Then I stopped him. I asked him to stop or I was going to leave. He laughed at me, saying I was a chicken. I said chicken or no chicken, he had to stop. He did, but resorted to other means of bullying. He started discussing about me behind my back, asked me to not dress properly because that distracted the students and their parents, and that I shouldn’t look “too pretty”. Eventually, I left.” She cried quietly into the phone. I wished I could hug her.


“I am proud of you Anya.”  I say, knowing that she wasn’t. You and I can point at her saying she should have complained. But the circles she was part of, the society she stayed in, as well as her family would have blamed her and not the guy. We know how this turns out.


“Neha?” She said. “I had to leave because he spread stories about me among the students and the colleagues. I had to leave!”

“I understand.” I said. And I did. How could I not? I listened to her, calmed her down and after an hour asked her to give me the good news.
“ I am going abroad for a Writing program!”

I laughed with her, reminding her that only remembering the worst moments will kill the spirit in her. She said the pattern is over now, and it wouldn’t repeat. Five years have passed since that phone call. I am in touch with her. She is doing well, and is safe, happy and prospering.

I learned from her stories that it is easy to blame ourselves all the time for the things we did not do at that point of time. Today we may look back and think that why we did not react in the way we should have, but it is important to remember,

In life we only learn to get up and move on, once we fall.


Pradeeta is a Law Graduate from Christ University, Bangalore, and has done her Masters in Law from National Law University, Odisha, Cuttack. She has interacted with people from various walks of life during her life in law school and beyond, through internships at NGOs and Human Rights Commissions. Through YourDOST, she looks forward to share her life experiences and the belief, that all of us have an inbuilt strength mechanism that makes us extraordinary. She is a dreamer, writer, and music fan, hoping to heal the world one day at a time.and backgrounds.