“Wake up Mum, I saw a bad dream!!” she said, still shaking with fear. “What happened? Come sleep near me baby”, her mother said caressing her eight-year-old. She leaped beside her mom, wiping her tears and trying to forget all about it. Aria had been wakened by this wrenching dream almost every night, since a few days. She started feeling sick every time, her mother said, ‘it was bedtime’.
“Where’sAria?” asked her aunt, who had come to stay with them after she got admission in one of Mumbai’s most prestigious colleges. “Oh! She’s off to school now. Poor kid isn’t able to sleep at night, for a couple of days now”. “Don’t worry, it’s the vampire series, she watches every night before sleep. She will be fine.” Consoled her aunt and gulped her tea, as she got late for college.
“Aria, what is the answer to the fifth question, from the textbook?” asked her teacher. “Ariaaa!!!!” screamed her teacher again looking at her. “Huh! Yes, teacher” Aria replied, having no idea about what the teacher just said. “What is wrong with you Aria? Please ask your mother to see me tomorrow.” She was unable to concentrate in class as the scary dreams now followed her in the daytime as well.
“I’m home Di, please make me a hot cup of tea, just tired from all the lectures and assignments in college.” Said Nandini, slouching down the sofa. “Yes, go freshen up first, Aria will be back now, take her to the garden please and play with her, so she forgets her nightmares”. “Yes Di”. Promptly she replied.
“Let’s go on the swing,” said Nandini, trying to get her attention. Aria looked at her showing no interest. “So shall we play a game? I will say a word and you tell me the first thing that comes to your mind, without thinking much”. Aria lacked enthusiasm yet agreed to play with her. “Ok then, let’s start”.
Aunt: Best Friend?
Aunt: Favourite Teacher?
Aria: Mrs. Thomas.
Aunt: ok, favourite activity?
Aria: colouring and swimming.
Her face sparkled a bit as she started enjoying this fun game.
Aunt: your favourite time?
Aria: when Mum takes me out with her.
Aunt: your least favourite time?
Aria’s face drooped and she again went in her silent zone.
Aunt: Aria, we have not finished the game yet, tell me quick.
Aria: When I go to school, she said and covered her face.
Aunt: Why? Did someone say anything in school? Did the teacher scold you?Does someone bully? A classmate or a friend? Tell me Aria. Nandini panicked.
Aria started crying and yelled, “I cannot tell you, he said I can’t tell anyone!! She cried uncontrollably. Nandini calmed her down and pleaded her to confide the truth to her.
Aria stopped crying a bit and whispered, “Madhu kaka* used to drop me to school every day, but last week he went to his native and now his cousin Raman Kaka, drops me to school. One day, he asked me if I like being tickled and tickled me on my hand. I laughed and said yes I like tickling. Then he said he will tickle me some more and I will feel happy. I was very excited when he said that but then he slipped his hand inside my skirt and I felt dirty and “chiiiiii”, I told him I did not like it but he didn’t listen to me.” She whimpered as she spoke. “Why did you not tell mom about this, she has taught you about ‘good touch and bad touch’ right? Also to inform about anything bad that happens to you.” Nandini said with utmost rage and pain for her. “I told him that I will tell Mom, but he said if I tell anyone about this, then he would leave me on some unknown road and never come back.” She started crying again and was completely inconsolable now.
Nandini was shattered and appalled by what she just heard the little one say, she took her back home immediately and explained everything in detail to her family and later they reported the matter in the Police station. The accused was taken into custody and a case was filed against him.
There are hundreds and thousands of Aria’s hidden in every household.It’s the guilt and fear of the society which prohibits them to speak up and come out in open. We need to recognize the impact of violence and act now to prevent it from having a devastating impact on their lives, as some children may grow up and undergo depression, self-harm and suicidal thoughts.
To avoid more damage, we should retaliate and raise our voice against these heinous creatures and teach them a lesson of their lives.
WAKE UP and act on it, just don’t SHUT UP!!!
*Madhu Kaka was the driver.