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Why didn't you report the police?"
"I tried, but nobody helped me. Who would believe me when the concerned family showed no interest? Rather they showed us the door for accusing their trustworthy househelp."
"But, still you should have, or you should have told me."
"Yes, I know, but at that time you were in college, and I felt awkward talking to you about all this. I mean, we never spoke freely on these issues, back then."
"Hmm..I know..I can understand. But, I still think that you should have reported it to the police."
"It's a long time now, the girl must be now around thirteen/fourteen years old by now. At times, I wonder how traumatised she must be. I tried convincing her family several times. But, they didn't believe a word I said. Rather, they chose to ignore me as long as they stayed here. An year after the incidence, they shifted to a different place. But, I still cry thinking about that little girl. And I still wish, I had done something to save her."
I could see my mother wipe her tears, as she narrated me that inhuman act. It was one of the most shocking things that she had ever witnessed. Along with a guilt, that she would probably carry with her throughout her life. To tell you the truth, I was actually angry with her, for not doing anything at that very moment. But, later, I understood that she tried her best within her means.
The story (sadly, a reality) goes. It was a hot summer afternoon, when most of the neighbourhood was in the midst of a deep summer slumber. My mum was drying clothes on our 1st floor porch. The porch overlooked the backyard of our neighbouring house. They had shifted there a few months back and we barely knew them. As she was trying to hang more clothes on the hanger, the cry of the 2year old girl caught her attention.
She had seen that girl and her family, many a times, but never got a chance to start a conversation. But, what she saw next, froze her very nerves. She wanted to shout at the top of her voice, but her vocal cords betrayed her. It was like one of those dreams, where you want to shout for help and nothing comes out of your mouth, and you feel suffocated, choked. Her hands and feets went cold. She stood there frozen, as the toddler cried. But, somehow she managed to shout. The atrocity was almost immediately stopped cause of the alarm raised by her. Maa was confused as to what to do next. So she immediately called her best friend, who stayed a few houses away from our house and narrated her the whole incident.
Maa along with two of her friends, went to that house almost immediately. They described the whole story, but to their utter dismay, no one in the family believed them. They were shocked. The man accused in this case was identified as a trust worthy househelp, who has been there in their house forever, whom they considered to be nothing less than a father figure for that little girl. They out rightly rejected every single accusations made by my mother and showed them the door right away.
Maa came back, and cried like crazy. At that time, I had just joined college and was staying away from my home town. And to tell you the truth, we never talked on anything related to sex or sexual assault/abuse. And somehow, this inhibition continued till the time I was married. And then one fine day, Maa confronted her inner guilt to me. I was shocked to hear that such an incident could happen right in our neighbourhood. I was disgruntled, to hear about a pedophile, who continued to live with family, despite of commiting such a henious unforgiving crime.
Though that cynical pedophile was never caught in action again by any of the neighbours, who were well alarmed by then, but maa still regrets that nothing was done to save the toddler from the menace, since the family protected the househelp. Maa even suggested for a police inqury, but without the support of the concerned family, no inquiry would have been fruitfull. Plus after some time, everybody got too busy with their lives. And, mostly Maa's concerns were shunned by saying that, 'Why do you care so much, when the family doesn't?'
I know, you all must be shocked that such an incidence could even happen. But, it did happen. And the pedophile continued living with that family as long as they were a part of our neighbourhood, and may be even after that. This incidence is nothing less than a nightmare for us. Maa has been reliving this nightmare everytime she thinks about that little girl.
It's shocking, that such a family did exist or is still existing, a family that supported a pedophile, a family that allowed a toddler to be abused, a family that trusted a househelp more than a concerned neighbour, a family that couldn't differentiate between tears, and tears of fear of an innocent girl.
My mum, still regrets that she couldn't do a thing for that little girl. An innocent girl, who cried, as the man (the so called trustworthy househelp) forced her into an act of oral sex. To tell you the truth, I still wish maa and her friends or our neighbours could have been very strict, or police or an NGO was involved in the case. But, mostly what I wish for is, that family could see the reality, could save the little girl from a monster. But, sadly, the family couldn't realise the tears of fear in their toddler's eyes, all they saw was a trustworthy househelp helping them raise their child.
Lesson learnt: Even if it's a false alarm, still proper inquiry should be done on issues related to child abuse. No matter how trustworthy your friend, your househelp, your relatives, your neighbours, your acquaintances may be, even with the slightest alarm one should take strong action.