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Fear

CSA_HFMemory is bizarre. It blocks out traumatic incidents, only to flood us with them when we are least prepared to deal with the deluge. Whenever I read about child sexual abuse in the news, a trigger is pulled. I feel like the memory is lurking around a corner, just waiting to pounce on me. The memory defeats me in one stroke, as the fear I have been struggling with engulfs me.

Part of my hesitation in talking or writing about my experience is the apprehension that straight people may wrongly attribute the origins of my sexuality to that one incident. There have even been instances where queer people have asked me not to mention that incident when I share my experiences growing up as a gay child.

It’s not just straight people who have such notions, actually. Once, I broke down in bed while having sex with my then-lover. I was also obliged to tell him my past, as we both wanted to take the relationship further and wanted no secrets between us. I recounted the sexual abuse that I was subjected to when I was seven, an incident that had left me feeling dirty and guilty, for no fault of mine. I felt relieved after that disclosure. Until the next day, when he casually asked me if I had turned gay because I was abused by my teacher twenty-two years ago. That was the beginning of the end of our relationship.

I did part of my schooling in the most celebrated school in town. Until second grade, I was in the nursery section. All the staff members were women, except for our school head, who was a Catholic priest. I was excited when I graduated to third grade. Third grade was in the main campus, which meant I was no longer in the nursery section. To me, it was a sign of being all grown up. This campus had all-male staff, except for a couple of aayahs (maids).

As I look back on third grade, many incidents stand out in sharp relief.

I was slapped hard on the face by the headmaster, for running on the school grounds during interval.

I fought with a fellow classmate who stole my stamp collection, and, as a result, my parents were summoned to the school.

I heard the term ‘chicken pox’ for the first time and I wondered why someone had to take a leave of absence because they had had a box full of chicken.

I was asked to write extra assignments in Tamil to improve my handwriting.

I was hit by a thick cane, for the first time, by my math teacher because I did not pay attention in class. He happened to be a neighbour, and the news went directly to my parents from him.

I became the boy who did not pay attention in the classroom.

I also took drawing classes on weekends. These classes were held in a house across from our school, in a lane barely 100 meters away. Our drawing master from school came there to teach us, a handful of children.

The house belonged to Mr. N, who was also my science teacher. Mr. N was in his mid-fifties, and came across as a man who loved children. Young parents saw him as a father figure. He had a granddaughter who was my age.

He would pull boys towards him by holding their penises. Yes, our little penises. I was always scared to go near him because it hurt when he did that. He would also make a few of us stay back in our classroom during intervals and lunch break. He would unzip his pants and we had to pull down ours. Suffice it to say our penises would not be the focus of his attention then.

I grew to dread those weekend drawing classes. I would stand outside his house until our drawing master entered, and would run out as soon as the class was dismissed. My parents stopped sending me to drawing class after my master complained that I wasn’t paying attention.

My parents were concerned over my falling grades. They cut down on my playtime, and increased my after-school study hours at home.

I did not have Mr. N as a teacher after third grade, nor did I have any more encounters with him.  I not discuss my abuse with anyone, until I got to seventh grade. At that point, we had moved to a new house, and a boy from the neighbourhood happened to be a schoolmate. We had common friends and teachers. It turns out we had also had Mr. N in common.

And that too: our secret, our shame.

I never spoke about it to anyone else until eighteen years later, when I opened up to my ex-boyfriend.

The man who abused me and many other children at school, year after year, is no longer alive.

My fragmented memories, and the fear I live with, remain my only witnesses.

CSA_Glogster


Orinam credits:

Images have been taken from the following sites, linked below for trackback:

  • Image 1 source: Happy Families blog, see here
  • Image 2 source: Glogster.com, see here

 

Comments

3 Comments. Add your own »

  1. Shankar

    We called our male teachers as “Masters” in our school – a state-aided one. One such master became my hunter. He never taught us in class. He must have seen me happily moving around. I must have been in Standard VIII or so. On a day of model-exam, I was in an extra-cheerful mood after having done the exams quite well. The teacher stopped me on my way to the place where wash basins were situated. I had wanted to wash my face before returning home.

    Master summoned me and asked how I had done in the exam. He did not seem to focus on my answer because his eyes kept moving around. Perhaps he assessed it was a safe time for him, as most people had left after exams. He asked me to follow him up the stairs. On the first floor, he said, “Master likes you very much” and gently kissed me on the cheek. Masters were usually stern with us. Talking to students in such a kind, endearing tone was a rare thing in those days. and hence I began feeling shy as well as proud at the same time. “After all, he should have seen me writing till the end of the exam today”, I thought.

    He next prodded me to move to the second floor. Once we reached the corridor, he repeated the question how I wrote the exam? I wondered why he is asking it again, but replied once again. By now he had moved me to a dark corner of the floor. His next action made me dumbfounded. He looked at me sternly, and caught hold of my private parts, and made a gesture, as if his assessment told him something. I stood dazed at the suddenness and unprecedented nature of this. He then unbuttoned a few buttons of my shirt and focused on my chest. He asked me, if I liked him. I did not reply. He said, “Good boy”. and kissed the other cheek, this time it was harder and longer. When he released my face, I felt droplets of his saliva on my cheek. “Wipe it” he ordered. All his kindness seemed to have gone now. He seemed to breath heavily and his red eyes evoked fear in me. By this time, his pats ceased to make me happy.

    He opened the classroom and took me in. I did not know what he thought but he brought me out immediately. He then stopped me suddenly near a pillar. He took my face again in his hands and began chewing my lips with his. I remember his long and sharp beard piercing my lower inner lip. I grimaced and tried to push his face away with my hand. He said, “You will begin to feel good if I do this.” There was some sudden movement of people in the building. Master Hunter gave me a reprieve when he said that it was enough for the day. He let me off with a condition that I should meet the master often. I nodded and ran away from the place and went directly to the water taps to clean my mouth. Then I spat and spat for a long time, trying to wipe out the unpleasant feel and the memory. I did not realize it would be impossible to wipe out either. I never went to meet this Master. Whenever I spotted him, I would move in the opposite direction, pretending I did not see him. I could not discuss this with anyone, and this incident became my first and longest kept secret. A year and a half or so later, I had grown up physically and had made plans to tackle this man, if he attempted anything drastic again. One day he boarded the same bus and sat beside me. He recalled my face and observed that I did not meet him at all after that day. He put his hands below my thighs and tried to do something. As a more grown up boy, and also taking advantage of the fact that it was a public transport, I pushed his hands off and said firmly, “take it off”. I never saw him till the end of my school days!

    • jai

      good that you had the courage!

  2. jai

    sorry to hear of the above stories that have broken innocent boys. worst of all is keeping a secret to yourselves. it is painful!
    now as adults you realise it was not your fault. you were a victim of men who had control over you and you could do nothing about it. these men were pedophiles!
    when i hear/read such stories, i remember my own story. it still pains me, though i try to push it away. i wish i could confront this man but he is lost somewhere on this earth.

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