Fathers as fiends
Daughters have a special bond with their doting dads. Mothers are left seething out of the equation, and later suitors suffer because they can never measure up to the first man in a girl’s life. This was the credo, reaffirmed by all of us who have glowed in this unabashedly biased relationship. The monster of Mira Road has shattered the idyll. It’s difficult to think of a worse betrayal.
The blood of every father’s daughter must run cold to read about the 21-year-old who had been continually raped for nine years. A father as perpetrator, a mother as accessory, and a so-called godman not only calling the shots, but pumping in his own dirty bullets as well. How many idols were smashed in that burgeoning outpost of Mumbai suburbia? Everything supposedly sacred was defiled. It’s difficult to think of a worse perversion.
Every daughter who has snuggled into her father, charmed him into submission, had him indulge her every whim to her own delight and her mother’s disapproval, must surely have followed this story in disbelief. For the past eight days, we have been subjected to chilling revelations. Just when we thought we had heard the worst, another report, another piece of testimony has reared its head to mock our cozy illusions.
The Mira Road incest is not an aberration. It happens everywhere, all the time, as routine as water cuts in summer. Too often, ‘family’ is not the benign unit of protective Mama-Papa and loving uncle-ji, but a whitewashed sepulchre of poisoned innocence. To the curios in the showcase add the skeletons in the closet. Alas, not dead, but jumping out to paw, grope and molest. On a regular basis.
The difference at Mira Road was only one of degree, motivation, and the fact that the pustule burst open. This happened only because it reached new depths. When her 15-year-old sister was also dragged into this pit, the long-suffering girl found the tremulous courage to inform her maternal uncle and grandmother. So, add one more dimension to this perverse roster. We must be thankful for the doubled evil because that’s what finally led to the end of the sordid tale. And for the small mercy that the girl’s court of appeal did not typically cite ‘family honour’ to slam the lid back on what was its demonic opposite.
Child sexual abuse by a family member, most often the father himself, extends from pavement to penthouse, leaving no economic, educational or ethnic group unstained. It sits there masked in normalcy, like porn covered in the innocent brown paper of a school exercise book, like a festively wrapped mithai box swarming with maggots inside. The statistics may be conjecture, but they certainly aren’t damning lies. An act of domestic sexual abuse occurs every seven minutes (compared to every three minutes for any type/venue of sexual violence).
In this depraved milieu, we must then be very grateful for the six minutes of security. And, we, who as children had considered our unmolested cocoon to be the unremarkable rule, must now fall on our knees for the blessing of exception. When the parental protector turns predator, every other violation pales by comparison, arguably even turns kosher.
The father raped his elder daughter for nine years and, inured, felt no shame in pulling the younger girl into the sex vortex. The mother emotionally blackmailed them into submitting not only to him, but also to the instigating tantric. To be fair, she threw herself into the hissing cauldron as well. The parents abandoned their most sublime duty for the sake of mere crass reward. The ‘godman’ had convinced them that this was the divinely ordained route to the father’s business success.
The silence of the lambs of Mira Road is deafening. But the current empty din of electoral invective is unlikely to pause and listen.