Some things need to be written, however difficult it may be.
It is a year and a half since our company has been working from home. My office too like many others decided to continue working off-site till further notice.
You must be feeling terribly hurt when I did not come home like most of my cousins did as soon as the pandemic and lockdown began in March last. I heard the hurt, the underlying tears, the worry, and above all the puzzlement in your tone. I tried using the excuse of the first job, how busy I am, and lying that my job demands that I have to be on-site frequently. You tried reaching out multiple times and each time I remember rebuffing you. I also know that you must be struggling to come up with convincing excuses for my behavior to your own family but also Appa’s* and not to speak of our neighbors and friends. I know it must have made you unhappy and left you perplexed. It must be one thing trying to excuse my behavior during my teenage days and another to put down my snarly behavior to raging hormones.
Amma, I have been inordinately lonely in Bangalore. I have always been alone ma from the time I turned teenager during my school and college days. Now with most things closed, I can’t even go anywhere and that is killing me. All my friends, colleagues have gone to be with their parents. It gives them an opportunity to be with their loved ones and also save on their living expenses.
Amma, I alternate between being angry with you for not noticing and wanting to share my secrets with you knowing very well that it would break your heart. I don’t know how many letters I have written all these years and torn them up for I know sending them to you is going to hurt you even more than me making excuses. Momsy, (remember I used to call you that as a child), what I am writing will cause you more anguish than ever. I know you will go through the whole gamut starting from denial, guilt, and scores of other emotions. I too am battling all of them even though; technically I am not at fault. I have been to a therapist, read multiple accounts of people with similar experiences and one thing in common is the feeling of guilt and shame.
Amma, I was just thirteen when your beloved brother started feeling me, groping me all in the guise of love. It got worse ma, not better and I used to feel as if a caterpillar was crawling up my skin in his presence. And amma, did you really not notice or pretend not to? That nightmare continued for three long years until I left for the famed Indian Institute of Technology. I used extra classes as a succor. I remember coming home for a short stint. He visited me at the college once ma and my shaking was so much that my friend noticed it and she and her family were like a second home to me. She wanted me to tell you but amma, you would have taken me to the doctor and my hymen would have been intact for he never once penetrated me. Does that fact make his actions better? Would you have believed me if I told you that the four walls of our homes were a nightmare if ever there was one? To this day, I can’t sleep ma because darkness makes me feel he is around me, feeling me, hurting me and ma, that oily smile of his the following day pretending that all was well and he was one kindly, benevolent uncle and you watching the two most important persons in your life with an indulgent look. I remember you telling me more than once that your brother, my mama loves me and I am behaving standoffish with him! I want to throttle him and at other times, I wonder if I should end it all..that frightens me more.
I have been sleep-deprived ma and I hope someday I can sleep with my head on your lap.
Mom, I couldn’t bring myself to tell you because I knew he was an ‘accident’ in your parent’s life. You donned the role of a mother at fifteen and being the eldest, you felt responsible after your own mother’s death. But, when you called me to say that he is getting married, I couldn’t stay silent. I don’t want to remain a victim while he enjoys his life pretending to be an ‘awesome’ uncle. I know he must be giving an ear to your worries regarding me and making appropriate noises to show his sympathy that I have been hurting you, but he knows as well as I do, that it was he who had made my life a living hell in my own home.
I want to confront him. Will you be by my corner without thinking of your family’s honor and repercussions?
Your terrified daughter
PS: terrified because I am afraid that you would choose him over me? I am afraid that you would worry about my ‘reputation’ and also his future. I am frightened ma that you would choose to keep quiet rather than face the storm. Will you tell me to let the sleeping dog lie or will you, be by my side?
Amma: Mother in most South Indian Languages
Appa: Father in Tamil, one of the south Indian Languages