18th April, 1998: It was a good day at the Mehra’s. Their daughter had just got engaged the day before. The house was swarming with friends and relatives and padosiyan. Boundless naach-gaana, mithaai and happiness adorned their mansion like a new bride. Like any other 11-year old boy who is not much of an extrovert and hates being cuddled by the endless stream of relatives, Abhimanyu preferred to stay back in his room playing video games on the computer. He loved his di, but the loud music and jibber jabber of the herd gave him a headache.
Suddenly, there was someone knocking at his door, and before he could answer, his tauji’s old business associate, Hrishikesh Bajoria, came in with a big lopsided smile on his bearded face. Hrishi chachu was a favorite around the house because he always brought gifts for the children. Today was no exception. He sat Abhi down on his lap, but instead of the usual box of chocolates, Hrishi chachu handed him a box wrapped in translucent silver paper. He at once knew, from the picture of the pointed golden crown, that it was the Rolex GMT Master II, he’d been asking for as a birthday gift. Surely, birthday came early for Abhi and he hugged the old guy for his excitement knew no bounds. But the little boy had no idea that what his beloved chachu had in mind would leave brutal scars on his body and his mind for the rest of his life. “Will you not thank your chachu for this wonderful surprise?” the 55-year old man questioned. “Yes, thank you, chachaji”, smiled Abhi. “Beta, would you do me a favor and run along to the bathroom and hide behind the door? I have another surprise waiting for you.”
Abhi jumped off his lap and rushed to the bathroom, hoping to find the Nimbus 2000 he had mentioned on his Christmas wish list, the innocence of his soul unaware that he is about to be bait to the Pandora’s Box. Hrishi chachu came up behind him and locked the door. He unbuttoned his pants and grabbed Abhi by his buttocks. The 11-year old child was too stunned, and words failed him. And then he felt a sharp pain, ripping across his groin. The pain just kept on growing, tearing his insides. His chachu’s hands were tightly gripping his mouth. Through his muffled screams, he wanted to call out to his ma, so that she would come and take him away from this grotesque, sinful man. He didn’t know what was happening to his body because the pain just kept elevating. Tears were rolling down his red cheeks. He gave up because his father had never taught him how to fight a monster. Finally, he could feel the pain and the chachu, leaving his body.
“If you tell your mother about this, she’ll know what a bad boy you are. Your father will never love you again, for he’ll know it is you who have sinned. And if you ask God for absolution, he’ll curse you. So, just go back and play with the toy I got you. Pretty expensive one, isn’t it?” And the old man left.
Abhi lay there for hours. Nobody came looking for him. Not his ma, not his papa, not even di. His numb body could not feel the cold and wet floor of the bathroom. He felt sore and battered. Was he alive? He sure wished he wasn’t.
18th April, 2015: It was a good day at the Mehra’s. Their daughter had completed 17 years of marriage. The house was swarming with friends and relatives and padosiyan. Boundless naach-gaana, mithaai and happiness adorned their mansion. But, Abhi was in his room, just like he had been on this day for the past 17 years, his earphones plugged in, trying to escape the wretchedness of the past that just doesn’t stop chasing him. And no matter how hard he tries the flashbacks of that day and the months that followed never cease to haunt his present day life. Seventeen years had passed, but just one look at that heinous, dirty, old pervert still traumatizes him like it did on that day. He was twenty-seven and he had never been with a woman. He had never even had a girlfriend. He thought he was too “impure” to even fall in love with a woman. Every time he forgets to take his medicine, the creatures of the dark come calling out for him, reminding him of the excruciating pain in his body had been through. He still remembers how his mother had laughed at him when he had told her. “Are you saying Hrishi bhaiyya touched you? You’ve been watching too much TV. Who rapes boys?”
A week later, he remembered, his own mother had tried to BUY his silence by gifting him a brand new Ducati 916. What was he to do with a bike at the age of 11? “Don’t go around telling all these stories, okay? People will think you’re stupid. And you don’t want them to do that, do you?”
Because, as Kevin Kantor said in his poem, no one comes running for young boys who cry rape.
Who is Abhimanyu Mehra?
He is every boy in this country and beyond who is beaten up by the broken shards of patriarchy, whose outcry is unheard by the so-called conventions of “feminism”.
Who is Hrishikesh chachu?
He is every lecherous pervert who breathes the same air that you and I do, who damages the souls of young boys and holds one of the most revered positions in families and society.
Who is Abhimanyu’s mother?
She is every mother who lives her whole life in denial, who covers the truth with her palloo, and draws her last breath trying to protect the family name, but not her own child.
Abhimanyu’s story is the untold, unheard, unspoken and much too often, the unseen story of every young boy, whose voice fails to reach us.
We stand up and march in unison, protesting against violence on women, screaming our lungs hoarse demanding a safe environment for women. But who is looking after vulnerable young men who are being labeled as “effeminate” because they have lost all will and strength to fight back? What happens to little boys who are tied down by the shackles of what is conventionally acceptable, who are stigmatized by the “culture” and “norms” of this prejudiced society?
This post is a part of our #SaveTheKids Campaign. To check out more posts from this campaign, click here.