When Maa taught me about power –

Not power proper; but the power of


She was clear about the wheres:

between your legs – no, on your chest – no, 

around your back – no”, she had said.

But she wasn’t clear about the whos –

not that stranger, no, not that one either. Only

strangers, she had said. “Known people never 

touch badly, beta


When Maa told me about the power –

Not power proper; but the power

men had over me,

She was clear that they had an unsung, un-thought of

power over my being,

But she wasn’t clear how to ward them away.

Your elbow”, she had said, “use your elbow, and your knees; never stay silent – 

Always scream, shout, call out!”

But Maa, what about the men that enter me, ravage me in the middle

of the night

with keyboard taps, text messages and sign in and

out of my body without touching me?


When Maa told me about power,

Not power proper; but the power of

I have at the meeting of my thighs,

She was clear it was sacrosanct, holy –

this is where God lives, beta” –

But perhaps she forgot to tell me

that when he touches me, I am


with an unspeakable anger, I am


in the dark. My elbows, knees – they don’t

work, my screams are silenced by my


Why doesn’t this God then do something?

Maa, why?


I wrote this one lonely afternoon (in 2009) after reading Bitter Chocolate by Pinki Virani. This book,that is based on battling child sexual abuse in Indian homes, not only opened my eyes about the myths around CSA in India, it also gave me a perspective about the different things that are not perceived by Indians as sexual abuse of children.

  • Child sexual abuse does not necessarily always mean touch. It could be words, gestures, signs to a child that make him/her uncomfortable.
  • Not all unknown people and strangers abuse children. You could have an abuser lurking around in the house – a known person, a person your child trusts.
  • Children feel guilt slightly more strongly than adults, and sexual abuse brings immense feelings of fault and culpability to children. They perceive it as their fault, instead of the perpetrators. Stop attaching holy, sacred feelings to their bodies. Human beings are more than just their bodies.

* in Latin, meaning I have sinned.