To Sum It Up – 18
The plight of young boys is as bad if not worse than girls. We are always more careful about the girls in our family. There are greater restrictions around them. With boys, our conditioning is that they can manage. Even to acknowledge something like this can happen to them is difficult to accept for us. And most abuse victims tend to internalise the guilt of the abuser. They fall into the trap of believing it is their fault. With boys, this tends to happen much more. Men feel more ashamed to talk about themselves as victims. So the chances of the crime against young boys going undetected are much more.
I was 13 when a guy started making prank calls to our home phone. He’d hang up if anyone else picked up, but if I picked up, he’d ask me a question in Hindi. The same question every time. It carried on for several weeks till one day the father picked up the extension and gave him a blasting. Till today, I’ve never told anyone what exactly he would ask me.
That year was particularly hot. Molly spent her days wandering in and out of her grandparents’ small white bungalow in South Delhi. The mango season had begun and she scurried around the backyard packed with her grandfather’s mango trees picking up those that had fallen with a thud onto the ground below and gathering them in her white cotton chemise. In the early mornings and late afternoons she went swinging her arms squinting in the sun with her grandmother to the milk booth, having been put in charge of slipping the tokens into the slot. In between these milk collection and mango picking duties, she fiddled around with the radio, learnt by heart the lyrics of the hit song about a girl who looked like a Japani gudiyafrom a film intriguingly called Love Story, and sniffed the bitter lemon tree out front.