You don’t know my name. You also do not know what I look like.
And Mama told me that it doesn’t matter. By any means, you are not interested in knowing who I am.
But trust me. While being broken, Mama is eternally grateful to all of you and to the one who dishonoured my dignity.
I am a nine year old girl from a small town, called Mattan, in district Anantnag.
The same nine year old girl who was sent by her parents to the local Imam’s house to learn the word of God. The same Imam, who instead of teaching me the sacred word of God, decided to show me the satanic acts of the devil.
A few weeks ago, while I was alone at his house in order to learn divine teachings and his wife was not at home, he brutally molested me.
Those lonely, paralyzed moments still haunt me. I still try to comprehend what he did to me and where he touched me with his ugly lust.
There are moments when I suddenly burst into tears and at times I feel so abhorred of myself that it makes me want to cut every inch of my flesh which he grabbed.
The nightmares do not let me sleep. Whenever I am alone, my mind dwells to those torturous minutes and I abruptly panic and start pulling my hair and biting my arm.
I trusted him. He was my teacher. I still remember his hideous face with that cunning and ghastly smile. He latched onto me like a ferocious animal while peeling off my clothes with his gaping eyes and touching me with his venomous fingers.
The very sight of a man, any man, turns my stomach. As if I will vomit blood.
Yet, after talking to Mama, I consider myself less unfortunate.
Mama told me that I had been lucky. I could have been the ‘Handwara girl’.
Unlike me, the ‘Handwara girl’ was molested by an Indian army-man. At least that is what everyone says.
She, on the other hand, says that she was molested by two local youth. As someone who knows the helplessness of being groped, I do not feel that it matters by whom she was molested.
But apparently it does matter. Apparently, the molester is equally significant as the molested one, if not more.
In her case as well as in my case. Albeit, for different reasons.
Until it was believed that she was molested by an Indian army-man, the whole of Kashmir was willing to lay down each and every Kashmiri life for the honour of this innocent girl. The moment she said that she was indeed molested, but not by an army-man, the whole of Kashmir concluded that the girl had been pressurized to lie.
She was a blatant liar.
The fact that she was molested did not matter anymore.
What mattered, was the ambiguity of who molested her and the reason why she was lying.
Her video was deliberately leaked and uploaded on social media and many of those who were claiming to readily die in order to defend this sister of theirs, suddenly knew -with the utmost certainty- that the girl had always been someone with a loose character. Unchaste and immodest. A whore.
In your quest to prove whatever would satisfy your collective belief, you lost all ethics and morality. The very principles which you claimed to uphold.
Without, even for once, thinking about the girl.
To counter the daughter, you got hold of the mother. She was going to tell everyone that her daughter was pressurized. That her daughter was lying.
In response to the illegal video of the daughter, you produced a legal video of the mother. In a failed bid to make you look like better than them. You ended up putting a distressed mother up against her own horrified child.
And you all watched.
While being concerned about the fact that the girl’s ‘personal space was being violated’, all of you collectively violated each and every space of her and her family to ensure that she was, shall and remain to be molested by an army-man. Come what may!
Whether she was molested by an army-man or by anyone else, does not change the fact that she was indeed molested. Why did you forget that? Why did it suddenly matter more by whom she was molested? Why did the sanctity of the deaths of those innocent boys and that innocent woman solely depend on who molested her?
A daughter of Kashmir was molested. Wasn’t that enough?
I am happy that I am not the ‘Handwara girl’.
At least no army or police killed those who died protecting my dignity. No curfew was imposed because of me and no Hartal was observed to protest my molestation. I wasn’t glorified as the daughter of Kashmir or renamed the ‘Anantnag girl’. Fortunately, no human rights organization considered my rights remotely human.
I wasn’t pressurized to lie or intimidated to speak the truth. My mother wasn’t used to dispute my statement. Nobody has seen my face or that of my mother. Nobody is interested in me or my mother. Nobody has ever seen a video of me or of my mother. Nobody called me a liar, unchaste, immodest or a prostitute.
Many of you don’t even know or care as to what happened to me.
Thank God, I was just molested. Just a simple, quiet and smooth molestation. And not raped by all of you.
My mother tells me that soon I will forget everything. Soon, this all would seem like a distant bad dream. At least, my honour is still ‘intact’.
Just yesterday evening, when I was lying on bed with my head in her lap and when she gently stroked my hair, she said: “Don’t worry. Everything will be fine. Have faith in God. Nobody in the neighbourhood talks about it. Nobody knows. Nobody wants to know. You will get married when you grow up and you won’t even remember all of this”.
She sounded a bit worried, “You know, beta. For a moment, your father and I were scared. There were some, who tried to play politics. Some tried to associate his actions with his previous profession. He had served in the Army. They all said that he was bound to molest or rape someone. It was embedded in his nature. That is how the Army is.
Luckily, they quickly realized that they themselves had found the man pious enough to become the Imam of the mosque of our neighbourhood. Correlating what happened with his previous profession, would have raised questions on the neighbourhood as well. His previous profession did not stop them to accept him as an Imam in the first place and now he did this to you because he was an army-man? Hypocrites!
May God’s wrath be upon him and all of them. Army or Imam”.
She continued, “We have been very lucky. Imagine, if you were that other girl from Handwara. People abused her and cursed her. A day before, everyone was willing to die for her. The moment, she said that she was not molested by that Kaafir, they all became thirsty for her blood. They did not even spare her poor mother. I even heard that children from her school do not want her back. Her neighbourhood has disowned her and her family.
They all made a tamasha out of her. I do not know who molested her. The only thing that I know is that the whole of Kashmir did not leave any stone unturned in dishonouring whatever was left of her dignity. Instead of protecting that suffering child and her family and safeguarding her and her family’s identity and honour, they marketed her and her family’s grief.
Who will marry her now? You have been only molested, my child. She, her family and her future have been raped. By everyone. Shamelessly and openly. She is doomed”.
Mama was crying and in a loud voice screeched, “If only, she would have just said that she was molested by that damn Army-man. Whether true or not. If only!”
It was raining outside. Not heavily. Small soft drops. I could hear the raindrops falling. Like the sound of a ticking clock.
I tried not to cry. At least not louder than the falling raindrops.
It seemed as if time had come to a standstill, while the raindrops kept ticking on the window.
For the first time this evening, I removed my head from Mama’s lap. I looked at her slander hands, while tears rolled down my face. Instinctively, she brought her hands to my cheeks in an attempt to wipe off my tears.
I detested pulling my hair. I hated the nightmares which did not let me sleep. I disgusted my being and the man who did this to me.
I stared at her bereft face and asked, “Mama, it means I preserved my dignity, by getting molested by an Imam?”
Sobbingly she nodded and pressed my head into her bosom.
You and I both know, that she lied.
We, the selective Kashmiris!