Do I greet you like I used to before ‘it’ happened and say, hello uncle? Or do I just say hello because Ami and baba want me to greet you and do not realise that I have stopped calling you uncle. Even now when I am older and sometimes have to face you, I cannot call you uncle. I was ten when you forever changed the meaning of this five-letter word for me. This title carried my blind trust in you and faith that you will never hurt me and won’t allow anyone else to hurt me either. You had earned that trust. You lived with us day and night. You picked me up from school every day and bought me ice cream more often than I was allowed to have and you never told mama and baba about it. Do you remember how, when I had been hit by that boy in school and I had come back home crying, you had brought me nine pink balloons for every year of my life and because you knew that I loved balloons? And then you had made those funny faces until my tears had continued but moved to an uncontrollable laughter at your silly antics. You were my protector when Baba and Ami were always busy but I knew you were always around. I knew I could go running towards your room and barge in right after an incessant knock and tell you everything. I loved it when you put your hand on my head or sometimes offered me a hug. Do you know that I secretly fantasied that you were my baba although you were only fifteen years older than me? I trusted you.

What changed then? Why did you start to bring me goodies every day but also started to call me to your room more than ever before? I would do my homework there. You would tell me to play in your room too. I loved all the attention but I did not like it when you would touch me here and there while I would be reading my favourite story out loud to you because you told me that I read really well and I wanted you to be proud of me. I did not know what that touch meant but I do remember feeling weird in my body and my heart used to beat so fast I was sure you could listen to it. Could you listen to my heart beating so hard? Do you remember how cold my hands used to be when you would squeeze them tightly? Did you not wonder why they were so cold?

And then ‘it’ happened. You know that even now I cannot use the words to express what you did to me. That day when Ami and baba were not home and trusted you to take care of me. Do you know that I was nervous for the first time but did not know why? I somehow knew you will call me to the room and I did not care for the bars of ice cream in the freezer or the trip to playland that you had promised. I had tried to hide from you but you found me behind the sofa. I don’t remember anything about the day but entering that room and finding it to be dark. I do remember you taking off my clothes and my crying out loud that I don’t want to.

Sometimes I think it’s my fault because I did not cry out loud enough. Did I cry out loudly? I do remember hurting and crying and hurting and crying, and then it was over. You asked me to leave and I remember you holding my hand very tightly and telling me to never tell anyone about what happened. I remember trembling for I don’t know how long in my pink bathroom when I saw more blood than I had ever seen in my life. I knew I was dying but I was too scared to tell you that. I was too scared to tell anyone and I never did.

I still wake up trembling sometimes at night. I find my heart palpitating unannounced, leaving me breathless and my hands as cold as that night. I go to this dark place more often than not and I don’t know how to pull myself out of it. I wash my body more often than I need to and it still feels dirty. I am scared of most men and find it hard to trust anyone. Why did you do ‘it’? I was ten. I trusted you. My tummy still hurts. My hands are always cold.

Do you ever wonder why I don’t call you uncle anymore?

Signed,

Every victim of child sexual abuse/rape.