My name is Ram, Raghav, Shiv, Krishna, Vishnu. It doesn’t matter. What matters is the story I’m telling. Which every parent should read — read, listen, and learn. When a child tells you something, trust your child. Don’t be like my mother who laughed when I told her as a six-year-old that the driver showed me his penis. She laughed and called me a liar.
My trust shifted from my mother to no one but god. Mum now says I should have told my dad. My father, an alcoholic, beat my mum and me to a pulp every night. I remember being woken up at 3 am to be beaten up black and blue, along with my mother. My little brother does not remember any of it.
For five years, this went on and I had no one to complain to. After the first driver, the second driver continued sexually assaulting me, perhaps because the older driver told him he could. Or maybe because I... I didn’t know. All I knew is my mother laughed.
Because of all of this, my lips were sealed. About my sexuality, I could tell no one.
But I did come out. To my cousin. My much divorced, much dumped cousin, who used my confession to draw attention away from her in the family. My father beat me up again and again for more years for this. I just lived with it.
My studies suffered and I flunked. My father stopped giving me money for clothes, fees, and commute. I changed colleges and survived on a wardrobe of one pair of jeans and two T-shirts for two-and-a-half years.
I did odd jobs like choreographing college fashion shows. When I was finally able to buy new clothes, my entire class stood up and clapped when I entered. Even today, I don’t like wearing new clothes.
All this while, my mother did not once tell my father, “Don’t discriminate between your two children.” My younger brother got everything — an education and a future. Even today, I think that if my parents had just believed me, they would have treated me better.
But I don’t want to be a Harish Iyer (equal rights activist), who is from my school. I can’t cry like him in front of the media, nor will I parade my mother in gay society.
I got raped when I was 17. (My friend) Mitali Parekh was the first person I could tell my story to because she believed me. No one ever did. She saw my scars. She was also the first one I ever came out of the closet to with ease. With no judgment. Teach your children this kindness and not my parent’s disbelief.
Listen to your child. Listen to what he or she says. And believe them. That’s my request to all you parents.
The writer is a tailor in Mumbai
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