When I read about Ghulam Qadir, a Rohilla chieftain, blinding Shah Alam II, The Mughal Emperor, in 1788, it sickened me. I was repelled by the unusual minutiae of the gory act, recorded by a chronicler.
Qadir, using an Afghani knife, with a surgeon’s precision, enucleated the Emperor’s eyes. A torrent of blood started oozing out from the lacerations caused. The Emperor’s loud screams of agony could melt even the devil’s heart but have no effect on Qadir, who was rather enjoying every moment of it. After finishing his work on the eyes, Qadir moved to pluck hair from the emperor’s beard, one at a time, extending the agony forever. He would not allow anyone to tend Emperor’s wounds, his wails would act as a lullaby to Qadir….I could not fathom how could someone derive pleasure out of such a thing, Qadir has to be very dark, a psychopath, or maybe very scarred.
Scarred, yes he was, at a tender age, he was ransomed to Shah Alam, as a guarantee of good behavior of his father. The Emperor grew fond of the boy’s company and would spend nights after nights fondling him. I know Qadir was healing his scars by tormenting his perpetrator.
How do I know, I had been there, where Qadir was…
Reading Qadir, brought back some of the haunting memories of my childhood, I could understand the rage, the suppressed anger, the constant feeling of hating oneself, of wronging myself, of being getting up in the night shivering and crying till morning, not knowing what to do…every memory came haunting.
I need to talk about it, I have locked these memories in the dark corner of my heart, and I need to start my process of healing, of restoration, of health from a diseased, damaged, unvitalized experience, which needs to be flushed out of my system. I was not wrong, I was wronged…
An eight-year-old girl, happy and full of life. Loved all trusted all. Not that I have learned my lessons after all these years.
We lived in one of the bungalows of the British era, first in the row of five. There was a huge garden and backyard where I and my sister would play with 4-5 friends the same age. With hardly any traffic those days we would keep bicycling on the road in front.
One of those days while we were playing one bhaiya came to play with us, he was on a vacation break from IMA and volunteered to teach us handball and we were all happy to learn.
Ma noticed it one day and gave us a good scolding for playing with grown-ups and we were instructed to not repeat it ever again. We made excuses for the next few days for not playing to sound polite and did as instructed by Ma.
One of the following days bhaiya, knowing my love for dogs, asked me if I wanted to play with their pomeranian. I was thrilled by the idea and asked my sister to come along but she, being scared of dogs, ran back home and complained to Ma. I was brought back home and got a good scolding and thrashing as well.
My playtime was canceled for the next three days. I sat at home and sulked. There was a big ber tree in front of the house and its branches were spread over the rooftop. I was collecting ber from the ground while my sister was playing with friends and Ma was on a walk.
Bhaiya came and asked why was I picking it up from the ground and why not straight from the tree.. I must have hardly been 4 feet, told him, “mera hath ni pohonchega na”. He said I have an idea, we can climb up to the roof and then pluck directly. I thought if it flouted the rules set by mom, it didn’t because ma said never go to anyone’s home alone, never in close space. The rooftop seemed safe. I went along.
Bhaiya sat on the edge of the rooftop and asked me to sit in his lap and then pluck as the ones in reach seemed rotten. I hesitated but he suddenly became rude and pulled me, the submissive me gave in..
I didn’t want to pluck ber anymore and I meekly told him so.. I tried freeing myself and he put his hand inside me violating me.. I cried in pain and he gagged me so tight and threatened to throw me down.. after a lot of struggle I somehow wriggled out of his grip but he was so mad at me that he scratched me so hard and the flesh came out. Without caring about anything I just ran back home and closed myself in the washroom. I was all blood with flesh hanging.. I was so scared of Ma getting to know of it. I washed myself, washed my panties. Waited for the bleeding to stop and then thought of applying medicine.. I saw a bottle that dad used when he would have pain anywhere, I applied generously and it burnt like hell, the most excruciating pain I have ever experienced. It was index. A smell that still gives me jitters.
Cleaned myself again, stuffed myself with cotton and came out. On being asked why my eyes are red, I told them it was the soap.
The super faker that I was from that tender age managed to put a smile on my face and had dinner. Slept crying into my pillow.
The next few days were hell trying to get off the stuck cotton and extreme pain. I suffered in silence. Too scared of being reprimanded. I had no idea what had happened to me. Why was I treated so rough? “What was my mistake?”. I stopped going out to play. I lived in guilt and shame. It was something that clouded my entire being and the thought of it still sends shivers down my spine.
Although the incident happened so long ago, for me the time has stopped ticking. What has kept me going for so many years, denial… I have separated that little girl from my being, I felt sorry for her, but she is not me. I wished her away, but she never left me, standing shocked, traumatized, with blood-stained panties in her hands asking me, “what was my mistake?”
Maybe, the little girl needs someone to talk to, someone to hug her, someone to reach out to, assure her that she will be okay, tell the world she is wronged, and I’ll be standing up for her.
Sharing and writing about my most vulnerable moments, is to accept the little girl as me. I have hugged her, and she is crying…profusely, but these are tears that need to flow. This is my process of healing.
I wish someone hugged Qadir….