“Mitu… I guess I’ve lost the right of addressing you like this. But I just hope, you won’t let this one incidence to wipe out everything we ever had. I know… i know it’s futile, because I know you better than most people… I know that you don’t forget, and you never forgive.
But still there is an apology due. Your forgiving, however unlikely, I still have to apologize. I’m very sorry. I cannot believe myself that I could stoop so low. I don’t know what possessed me. Mitu, you know me. You know I am no monster. I’m just had a weak moment. I know this is no defense, but seriously that is all that I can say. Because there isn’t anything else to say.
So judge me… as I know you will… with absolute fairness. But do judge me in totality, not just based on one isolated instance. And for god’s sake talk to me. I’ve never felt so alone in my whole life
I dropped the letter on the floor. What do you say to your own brother when he apologizes for molesting you? I mean, what do you say to anyone, forget your own brother? At least you’ve not grown up with the others, sharing childhood memories, dreams, a ten-by-twelve room with two tiny beds, two loving parents ….
“Are you sure there is no misunderstanding here?”
That was my mom’s first reaction. Disbelief. Actually not disbelief, but an instinctive denial of something which she knew was true, right away. Yes I’m sure of that because mom knows I won’t even bring it up, if I weren’t sure.
“Why don’t you ask your dear son?”, I retorted, equally instinctively. I mean I knew this wasn’t going to be easy for her, even before I started the conversation, but still it pissed me. I mean you expect at least your mother to understand what you’re going through, at such times, no? Any mother, even… And here my own mother wants to take her time, and avoid judging. When battle lines are being drawn around you, and you can’t help it, you delay crossing over to any side, till its absolutely necessary, I guess.
I hated myself for that unnecessary tantrum. We always expect understanding from others, never for a moment pausing to see if we’re offering it too. I looked at her helplessly. My mom, who had always given me the strength to fight… I could see the hurt in her eyes… and guilt. I felt like I was looking at a mirror. When we’re tied by bonds that entangled, every push is also a pull.
She stood there, without speaking a word.
“I’m sorry mom. I didn’t mean to hurt you. It’s just that at this moment I want to feel you’re with me”
She held back a tear.
“I know. I’m sorry too. But Mandar…”, she chocked.
“Don’t tell Dad”, she said finally, “Let’s think this over”
“What are you talking about, mom? What is there to think?”
Is this really happening, I thought. Sure you hear stories where families want to keep it under the carpet of respectability and family honor and all, but you never, for a minute, believe that could happen in your family! Not in a progressive family like yours…
“It will destroy him. You know how much he loves both of you”
“This is crazy. He ought to know! The sooner the better”
Deep down she knew it couldn’t be avoided. She looked at me helplessly, like one looks at inevitable consequences of one’s own thinking. I was just her extension.
“Okay I will tell him”
“No mom. It’s high time I did my own laundry”
“Boliye Madam“, the constable said, looking at me strangely.
“Wear something simple”, my mom had said to me, when she knew I was going to the police-station. I had frowned at that. Now I knew the wisdom of her words.
“I want to register an FIR”, I said to him.
“Lost your mobile?”, he asked cynically.
“No. Can I talk to the inspector?”
“Madam, inspectors don’t write FIRs!” he said patronisingly. I had a feeling he was staring at me an instant more than required — that dreaded male gaze. But when you’ve been molested by your own brother, such gaze seems benign by comparison.
“Is there no woman constable here?”
He gave me a weird look. “No. What is it about?”
“Sexual molestation”, I said, finally. Why is it so hard? I mean it’s not like I’ve done something wrong!
His expression changed suddenly. I guess he didn’t want to mess around with someone who could come and register such a crime!
“Maybe you should talk to our sahib“, he said finally.
“Madam, why do you want to waste your time as well as mine?”, the Sub-Inspector asked me earnestly, when I told him.
“I don’t understand you”, I said.
“Madam such family cases are dropped eventually. Your parents will try to convince you to drop the charges”
“No that’s not going to happen”
“How come your parents haven’t accompanied you to police-station?”
I remembered that when I sat facing my father, who wouldn’t dare look into my eyes.
“No I’m not asking you to do anything against your wishes”, he said. “I have no moral authority left to tell you to do anything…”. His voice trailed off.
“Dad, you’ve not failed me! Please don’t say such things”. You’ve been a heck of a dad, I wanted to say, but somehow I couldn’t at that moment. He had taken it stoically, when I had told it to him. Unlike my mom, who had had her moments of denial, he had just dropped his eyes. Then looking at me he had asked, “How are you? I’m so sorry you had to face this in your own house…”
“Whatever has happened was beyond your control. It was despite your bringing up…”
He looked at me. Maybe the expression in my eyes convinced him. “Thank you, dear. But I’ve stilled failed you. I didn’t have enough courage to come with you to the police station. And I…”, his voice was down to whisper again and his eyes dropped, “even now I wish this all would just go away, that you’ll just… maybe… forgive him, and move on”
He looked at the anger and hurt in my eyes.
“No… it’s up to you. Do what you think is right”
“Dad… just think if someone else had done this to me. What would you have wished for him?”
“I’d have wanted to kill him, just as I want to kill Mandar right now. Only I’m not strong enough”, he said and left the room.
“Don’t be ridiculous Mitali”, is what Roopa said when I told her I was planning to press charges against my own brother. Roopa is my best friend. “Have you thought about what it will do to your parents?”
I remembered that night when mom and dad were away on a tour, just two of them, after a long long while. I was happy for them, so was Mandar. The weekdays just went past us, both of us coming home just to sleep. Friday night Mandar picked up food on his way home, and also got some wine. I was pleasantly surprised, but then Mandar had always pampered me one way or the other, the sweet elder brother.
After dinner we sat and drank the wine, I asked him about his love life. He asked me about mine. Both of us agreed we had pathetic lives. It was one of the nicest time I had with him in a while, or any time really for both of us were so busy with our respective lives. After a while, I felt a little giddy. I thought it was the wine, although I never had problems with that much wine in the past. But then it was a hectic day too, so I just told him that I just wanted to call it a day. As I got up I fell down.
My head was heavy, and I probably lost my consciousness or something, but the next I knew I was in my own room — yeah we had moved into a larger house and both of us had a nice spacious room now — and Mandar was looking at me. I couldn’t really open my eyes, but I just thanked him, and muttered good night. Another blank, and I felt a hand groping my breasts. I couldn’t make out if I was in a dream or what, but I could make out that that was Mandar’s touch. May be it was that shock which brought me back to my senses. I pushed him away with all my strength.
“You bastard”, I cried, “Get out”
He panicked. I looked at myself. My top was pushed all the way up. I adjusted it, and charged on him. He retreated a few steps, out of the door, still looking at me. I banged the door on him, locked it. I must have fallen again, because the next morning when I got up, I was on the floor, my head hurting terribly. I came out of the room. He was reading the newspaper and drinking coffee. Just another normal day. He looked at me as if nothing had happened.
Roopa was looking at me, expecting me to say something.
“Sometimes Roopa, you must think beyond your family”, is all I said.
“You got knocked out by wine, yesterday!”, he said, trying to judge my reaction. I didn’t say a word. The next day my parents returned. I guess it was awkward for Mandar that I hadn’t said a single word to him, even in front of my parents. My mom probably thought that it was one of our regular fights, when we wouldn’t speak to each other. Mostly it was me who wouldn’t speak anyways, days at times. Two days later, I told my parents everything.
My dad talked to Mandar first, he denied everything. He said he was trying to put me in my bed when I suddenly got wild for no reason and pushed him out of the room. He said he couldn’t believe I could accuse him of such horrible things. That’s when I decided to press the charges.
I guess he never believed I would do that. That’s what the typical family guys count on, when they do such things. But when he realized that I was not kidding, he broke down and confessed it all to me in the letter. I sat in my room the whole night trying to remember the good times — and there were so many… so many. But every time I closed my eyes, that one image came back to haunt me. And one thought: someone who drugs his own sister could do so much more if left unpunished. As for my parents, they’ll have to live with the trauma, just as I have to. At some level, I still love Mandar. But it’s the monster within him that has to pay. It’s then I knew that I could never drop the charges.