I recently watched a video with a similar title. It was a survey where a girl went around asking people whether they would marry a rape victim or let their sons do so. While the idea behind that survey was not bad at all, I did feel that it was incomplete and bordering on almost sexist, from both male and female perspectives. That inspired me to write the following post.
Today was the day I failed my partner, my best friend, the love of my life.
I was vaguely aware of the presence of something lurking in the shadows of our relationship. Kiran had told me before we got married that there was something in the past which might change my decision. But being the open-minded, educated, and insightful person I claimed to be, I never thought anything could possibly cause me to stop loving my partner in crime of eight years. I didn’t want to hear it. I knew Kiran wasn’t ready to tell me then either. I knew that when it was time, I would be told of this matter. Not that I was particularly fussed. Whatever it was, it had built the person I truly loved today. The past was the past, and I was happy to leave it at that.
But today I was told of the Uncle who had touched Kiran at the age of six. Up until the age of thirteen.
‘Stop me when you feel uncomfortable listening to this. I feel like telling you everything today. I might get too graphic because I am going to let it all out today, so stop me when you want’
But I didn’t. I heard every bit of detail. I thought it would help both of us to come to terms with this. Both of us. Or only me?
I now knew that this Uncle, who was trusted to look after the only child of the family at times, was only 14 years old when he first touched my Kiran. He could have just as well been an elder brother. What’s in a title anyway? He was only 14, when he stripped my Kiran for a bath, and said, ‘Close your eyes and open your mouth. I’ll give you a surprise.’
After the surprise, the Uncle threatened dire consequences if anything about that incident ever went out of the bathroom. He said he would tell his sister, my Kiran’s mother, that Kiran was a bad child who did bad things. And so, this went on and on, in different ways, until Kiran was old enough, and broken enough, and seemingly unattractive to the Uncle. Then they both pretended it had never happened. They met in family gatherings. Everyone knew Kiran hated and avoided that Uncle. But no one gave it too much value. ‘Teenagers have their dramas’, they all said. And so as time passed, they even forgot about this ‘phase of hatred’.
Then Kiran went to college, and met me there. I felt drawn to this smart and exceptionally intelligent introvert after a few study group sessions. It took us a while to officially get into a relationship because Kiran just wanted to be friends at the start. For two years, we were just friends, and then finally at my 20th birthday party, we kissed. There was no looking back after that. We were perfect for each other. We completed each other. Everyone was jealous of our perfect relationship. I now realized that it was I who had initiated the kiss, although at the time, it felt like it was mutual. Suddenly, I felt the remains of my dinner rise up in my throat and I had this overwhelming urge to puke. But I didn’t. I controlled it.
Kiran’s uncle had partially contributed to our honeymoon trip to Europe. He had made our dream honeymoon possible and with his help, we were able to include all the frills we had previously cut off. Now I understood why Kiran had tried so hard to refuse it, but my mother-in-law had insisted that we take this as a wedding gift from him. And now I felt like my honeymoon was dirty. I felt happy that we hadn’t come back pregnant from the honeymoon because there was a good chance I would have been disgusted to look at my child. But I didn’t say anything. All I now knew was that this gracious man was never welcome in my house. I would make sure of that.
At the end, we hugged as we both cried. We cuddled and I pretended to be asleep so that Kiran could fall asleep. I lay awake the whole night. When the birds started chirping, I got up and went to the bathroom. Retched. Felt wretched. Took a shower. Came back to bed.
He was awake now. I told him I loved him. He started crying again. I told him he was still the same person to me that he was the night before and that I would always love him no matter what. He said he was sorry for not telling me everything before. I told him it didn’t matter to me. I held him for few more minutes and then he went to get ready for work.
It was true that it didn’t matter to me what had happened. I did still love him. I was always going to be his wife. But I was ashamed to admit to myself that he wasn’t the same person to me as he was the night before. And I was ashamed to admit that I was not the same person I thought I was. I knew it wasn’t his fault. I had repeatedly told him that and I truly believed it myself too. But I couldn’t help but feel that had I known this before, our lives might have been different. When I started to think that I possibly never would have married him, I had failed myself by being exactly the kind of person I had always consciously tried to not become. And I had failed my husband who had trusted me, and only me, with the secret of the darkest time of his life.