Fuck It! I break my silence by Rituparna Chowdhury

With the way, how headlines and news papers are boldly filling pages with more and more rape, assault, being hit by strangers on road, and people watching and doing nothing, and then calling a girl’s letter of agony a publicity stunt just because she incidentally happens to be an actress, it was time I wrote this. Breaking my silence. Sorry Mom and Dad. If I do not wash this dirty linen outside, many more linen layers would be stripped due to the same mistake a lot of us once made, years ago, by keeping shut. Many more would wail and cry behind locked bathroom doors, and wash their faces, and come out yet again and try to breathe. For many it would be a sadism, or gossip scoop. No. Being sexually molested or raped at an early age does not determine how good I will be in bed in later years. Yes, I have heard those too. I also might not be the ideal candidate for marriage post this, as the return on investment value of my body is will be lesser now than the person I am :). That anyway is a breather as automated moron filtration happens at large.

I am a Woman. A single working girl in Mumbai. A non celebrity. I do not have any film release this week or the next. A tax paying citizen, who was first abused at childhood in 4th grade, till 9th grade, and was asked to keep shut about it. Do I remember the gory details? Yes. The touch, the blood, the pain, those eyes and that grip. The only way I could escape it was bunk that tution class, or lock myself in the house, and put a note that I am not at home outside on the latch, switch off all lights and sounds and hide under the bed, till I could hear the man leave from the door.

I used to rarely meet my father. He was busy doing everything he could to give his daughter the best. I realized it pretty early that majority of the mothers in India have fantastic intentions but absolutely fuck all execution of the same, since they have had protected obedient lives, where ignorance was bliss! No one realised that to know what to ignore, one has to know the context entirely. I love my mother, irrespective of the fact that she was my immediate security mechanism from womb days who never stood by me, when I went crying to her. Not her fault. She did not know how to bring up a questioning mind as she has only been a follower. I was asked to shut up. Apparently it was my fault, that in 6th grade I went to play at my neighbors house with other kids when their father molested me and I ran away.

Sketch by Rituparna

I had a pretty battered childhood, in all circumstances where I did not stand up to the ideal girl image. I used to cry for days and nights alone wondering, I am beaten up by folks at home when they didn’t like the fact that I don’t like inexplicable and unnecessary authoritarian behaviour. Why don’t they have a problem and beat those men up too? They did not. As that would lower my market value amongst the social relatives, would depreciate. So being molested is fine, hush, its ok. But having a boyfriend, or hiding a love letter, could be equivalent to, a month long house arrest, temporary tattoo marks created by brooms, table spoons, combs, the great palms, sticks, rods, belts, a 24/7 policing on movements, no cell phones, no money, no shopping, no parties. I had accepted it way early in life that my battle is not with her, but with myself, how I still get to do and learn what makes me happy. And I was alone, I did not have an emotional support system back home , but the explorer in me did not give up. The knowledge came, minus guidance or safeguards, but rather with scars, shocks and pain too, which could have been lesser. Regrets? None.

 I have been offered great job opportunities in exchange for sex, have been snubbed completely and later ignored too harshly when they were turned down. 

I have been offered great job opportunities in exchange for sex, have been snubbed completely and later ignored too harshly when they were turned down. My parents upbringing and academic records or work credentials don’t hold much value, in front of my assets. (I am expected to share the inheritance as community service. Right?). All of this is but obvious my fault as even if I wore a salwar kameez, I am sure one inch of my toe that peeped out was provocative for my assaulter. Or wait, maybe when I was barely 9 years old or 13 years old, I should not have called someone “bhaiya” or “uncle”, if they had been blindly trusted by my folks to help me with my studies. The teacher and boss is always right, you see .

I have had relationships or lets call them relationshits where I have encountered people who would move into anything that moves. Yes, I have been literally strangled against the wall, and hit , because I spoke to someone apart from my boyfriend that too over an sms, that too when I caught him sleeping with someone else, I had to hear ,in as many words, “Baby, there is a difference between lust and love, you are going to be my wife , she is not.” And I was expected to stay back there. In a week I had left the city that I had stayed in for 7 years, barely telling anyone that I am moving to Mumbai, because I do not know anyone there and I want to just have few hours and spaces where I can cry freely, once . I have had cigarette marks on my body, as I was complimented more than necessary at a party. I have been yelled at mercilessly in abhorrent language since I refused to be a swinger in a relationship, where the guy was into men women and animals, which I discovered only to run away from him and he left no stone unturned to try and still get me back.

So this shit is not new. Some say kill the rapist, some say castrate etc etc, how many ever thought of giving your child a home, where he or she is a mind, a valuable asset much more expensive than a marriage price tag?

“Banno re banno meri chali sasuraal ko
Ankhiyon mein paani de gayi
Duaa mein meethi gud dhaani le gayi” 

You cry when she is leaving home as a bride and that you are gonna miss her. Did you ever cry when she was crying, because she missed you multiple times, when all her hopes of rescue was pinned on you? Did you ever set different rules for your sons and daughters? Did you ever not let yourself be just a gender, outside the bedroom? Did you live in denial that your own can be harmed and scarred for life, for longest? Did you ever take pride in her choices, opinions, apart from her report cards? Did you openly mistreat her as if you had a right to upbringing like that? Did you hate the fact that she could see through your defences, and told you facts which were ugly as per conditioning? Did you deliberately try to dress up her ugly in teenage years so that boys do not look? How do you even remotely expect the child to have a home to come back to , where they can speak their heart out? United they rape, divided they rape too, just the girl falls. Am I ashamed of this revelation? Not one bit. As for me they are facts. Your conditioning and adjectives are welcome. Its your shame, not mine that millions of girls, have houses, parents but do not have a home, a safe bed, a fortress.

Being in love, being lied to, being used and getting hurt a zillion times, I don’t complain, as I loved deeply and I chose those people. So a part of me was equally expectant and hence the hurt. But I did not choose rape, I did not choose molestation, I did not choose the duality of treatment. Fear comes with an expiry date. And once faced with, its all good. A humble plea to each and every household, many of your daughters might not be telling you what abuse they are going through, at any age, time, before or after marriage, in the house, at work, at school, college, anywhere, as you have stopped them with fear of stigma. Please do not do that . Please. This whole debauchery would never stop, if you give her a home, as secured and strong as the womb you gave her, your daughters would be the ones who would take you by surprise by the enormity of their calibre. Respect yourself , the creator of that child, and your creation will respect you back. Solve it at the crux, rather than the endless bullshit of apt justice going on. Its your girl’s life goddamnit, not a bloody menu card in a restaurant. Your child, Your life. Love them. Keep them.

I am proud of my journey, my upbringing, every blow that I braved and I am blessed to be strong. My father, whose endless foray into travelling, music, books, and his undying faith in me, even at my worst, kept me going. its just love, just that much, just that bit eventually.  Spread the love . And do it for love’s sake, selflessly. It creates miracles. It does.

About the Author

Rituparna Chowdhury

A student of International Relations, Ritu left IAS preparations midway to pursue her love to create and instead join Aparna Sen as an assistant director. Anchored live shows, Musically inclined, a trained dancer, she chooses to see life in technicolor through her camera. An analytical and inquisitive mind, a free spirited nocturnal bohemian, she lives to travel, meet people, write while music is her committed partner. Gift of the gab, Infectiously witty, Zesty, Expressive, Well read and researched, Rituparna has worked as an assistant producer with UTV for dance India Dance Season 1, been a line producer for commercials and films. Loves to be involved about social issues and about Prime Focus, where VFX line production happened to her and she was a part of many Bollywood and international projects. Still on her journey, she plans to make films someday, write books and retire into the hills.

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