Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Month April 2013 – Courage By Thinking Cramps

It was a hot summer afternoon in Delhi. Coolers roared in every house, fighting the scorching heat. No one stepped out unless necessary. I was 8, and I was walking home alone from where the school bus had dropped me. No one came to pick me up – my mother was home with my little brother, not wanting to step out with him in the heat. Most of my friends walked home by themselves. Our apartment was part of six blocks, of six floors each, linked with inter-connected corridors on each floor. So it was easy for me to get off the bus and walk home through the maze, never hitting the main road. It was safe.
But I didn’t feel safe. As I neared the last stretch, my steps slowed. Even though I gazed down at the stairs I was climbing, I was looking out for him. He had been waiting for me at the same place every day, and his eyes would follow me as I walked past. My steps would quicken and I would pretend to look through him as I walked past him and hurried the last 100 meters home.
That day, he was standing at the top of the stairs – surprising me by waiting at an earlier spot than usual. There he stood, looking at me, fly gaping open between his hands. In horror, I took a few seconds too long to look away. I pretended I could see nothing, that he did not exist. I walked within 10 inches of him, crossing him on the stairs to go home. I don’t know what he wanted. I didn’t know if his sick mind had planned beyond that moment. Back then, I didn’t really know what he could do to me. But I did know I was scared. I went home. My mother saw my face and asked what was wrong. I started to explain, unsure of the words to use. Unsure of her response.

I don’t remember what I told her, but she got it right away.