[Editor’s note : The facts presented in this piece are solely an expression of the writer. Gaysi is presenting this piece on the writer’s request to bring forth the ugly side of implications of section 377 of the IPC.]
For the past one week due to the unpredictability of Chennai’s weather, my father struggled to breathe properly and last Sunday 13th July, 2014 it got worse. His family has a history of people suffering from eosinophilia at old age and he was hospitalized once in 2010 for ARDS (Acute respiratory distress syndrome). He was on a ventilator for 17 days, and doctors gave us no hope. My family and I were shattered and all I wanted to do was curl up and shut away from everyone and yet wanted to lean on someone at the same time. But being the elder son, the burden was on me to be stronger. I had to be strong and comfort everyone around me, it was the most painful thing to do but I managed. I managed to think clearly, listen to the doctors, ask the right questions, get the right medication, get the right food, wash him, clean him, ensuring his bedsores weren’t getting deeper as he’s diabetic and comforting everyone who leaned on me.
Last Sunday was hell all over again, rushing my father to the hospital and he was there on a ventilator again. Unemployed, I had no money and whatever I made was not enough for the food and mounting medical expenses, and I was running around to pawn my mother’s jewels to manage the expenses. The only upside was that the doctors gave us hope, that two days in the ICU on the ventilator and medications including nebulizer for a week should help him out of danger. I had to be the strong one once again. Ever since the horrifying incident last month, I was petrified to the extent that I was unable to step outside the front door for one month. Eventually, I gathered enough courage to meet one of my friends and her husband, and was now running back and forth from hospital to home.
On 17th, June 2014 two policemen at quarter past ten in the evening came to my parents’ apartment asking for me. My father answered the door and the policemen asked about me and my father said I was not home. Then they left immediately without explaining why they wanted to see me. At that point I feared for my safety. I feared that the policemen and policewomen would have found the publications that detailed my molestation by them and came looking for me to hurt me. I feared that they came looking for me as they warned before to take me to exploit me for their sexual needs. I was absolutely petrified and detained physically and emotionally. But my friends encouraged me to move on and I did by stepping out of the house and met some of my friends. The policemen came again on 5th, July 2014, looking for me when I was out with friends. My father inquired why they wanted to see me. He asked for their names and the precinct that they are from, but they left without saying a thing. Their visits had stirred up the neighbors and my family which lead to a big fight between me and my family.
Monday, 14th July 2014 late in the afternoon my mother and my aunt came to the hospital to relieve me and I went back to the apartment which was a complete mess. I did the dishes, the laundry and cleaned up the apartment. When I was just about get some sleep, the door bell rang and my brother answered it. He came into my room and said my friends were here to see me. When I went to the living room, two men were waiting for me and I had no idea who they were. When I turned to look at my brother, he had already shut himself in the study to play games on the computer. The men came closer to me and directed me to the front door and there he was; one of the policemen who molested me. An unsettling feeling started to creep inside me and my stomach churned. The policeman came closer and said “Shut your mouth and without making a sound come with us. We won’t hurt you or your family if you behave and listen to us.” When I told him that I can’t come and that I have to take care of my father who is hospitalized; a man grabbed my arm from behind and pulled a knife on me and said, “Come with us now or we will hurt you and your family. I will cut your brother up in front of your eyes.” On his finger I noticed a huge gold ring with a picture of a prominent political leader surrounded by diamonds. The moment I saw it, I understood what was in store for me. Those men were thugs with political affiliation and were with the policeman to take me. I tried to go inside to get my phone and tell my brother that I will be away, but they stopped and warned me to just tell my brother that I will be away. I did as they instructed and told my brother to lock the door and wait for our mother and our aunt to come. I felt absolutely helpless, I could run and alert the neighbors but what if they hurt my brother or worse kill him? I was disgusted with myself; I knew I had brought this on myself and my family. My parents were right; I’m nothing but bad luck, a curse. A curse on my family and the only way I could assure their safety was to comply with these men. They escorted me down to the front gate and into a car. The car started and they drove few minutes and stopped near a school and one of the men pulled out a strip of pills, popped one out and gave it to me. The strip read “restyl/restil” and I didn’t take it, he said “You better take this or you will be sorry. I mean it.” I begged them to let me go and I told them that I’ve STI and advised them not to force me to have sex with them. The cop said “We are not stupid; we know how to enjoy safely. The government has done a great job teaching everyone.” When I pleaded more, one of them muffled me and said, “You better listen to us or you will be in trouble. Now take the tablet and let the medicine do its work and don’t fight it.” After minutes I don’t for how long they drove through some familiar places and then through a place that was not familiar. I was scared and shaking all over. During the drive the men vandalized me, groped me, touched me and laughed all the way, saying disgusting things to me. Things they wanted to do to me. After a while my head became heavy and I was feeling light. The pill finally kicked in my limbs and my senses were giving in. I forced myself to stay conscious but my body was shutting down real fast. I was sweating, convulsing and my hearing and vision started to slowly compromise.
Even in that state I managed to see, smell and hear almost everything around me. The three men dragged me to a building and into a cold room with a bed and a very loud TV. The room wrecked of bad beer and there were two men already present. The men dropped me on the bed and I was lying on my back. The two men in the room were the other two policemen who molested me and one of them walked towards me and tried to pull my t-shirt over my head but I held on to it and didn’t let go. Then there were hands muffling me, grabbing my arms and legs; then I was really cold. I was naked. Suddenly there was a man on top of me. I was literally paralyzed and too weak to scream for help. I yelped and muffled for help and begged them to stop and let me go with tears blinding my eyes. I was muffled again by a hand to stop from making any noise. But my muffles were already drained by the loud TV.
Then they flipped me over and I was lying on my stomach. I could feel a discomfort initially and it kept shifting from discomfort to pain and back to being uncomfortable. I struggled as much I could but there were too many hands that held me down and I was being raped. It just hit me that I was being raped again. Moments later I was choking on something huge and unable to take it my insides gave in and I threw up. I don’t know how long it was but I was slowly recovering. The effect was wearing off and I could feel the surge of pain rising as I tensed and then it was clear I could see the men, I could see what they were doing to me. Finally I was able to scream but was muffled again. I struggled with all my might but I was nothing against two thugs and three policemen. They started to mount me one after the other and I lost count of turns they took to rape me.
After they were done, I slowly got up covering my nakedness with my arms and looked at the five naked men and then at the floor at my clothes. Near my clothes were many used condoms with their ejaculate. I’ve never felt this humiliated, ashamed and broken. I was back to being 13 all over again, back to being that child who was raped by eight men, back to being vulnerable and broken beyond repair.
As far as I could remember, all I wanted was to die. I think I was four and all I wanted was to die. I had no friends, my parents wouldn’t let me play with anyone and I was always bullied by the other kids for being chubby and bullied by teachers for being an underperformer. I died a little out of loneliness when I was a child. I died a little when one of my aunts abused me and continued to abuse me. I died a little when I realized that not all fathers whip their children and not all mothers throw things at their children. I died a little when I saw my younger brother get all the attention and love for being fairer and not fat. I died a little when one of my elder cousins abused me. I died a little when a teacher abused me. I died a little when my best friend betrayed and told the whole school about the teacher and me. I died a little when I was raped by eight men. I died a little when my first boyfriend died. I died a little when I overheard my parents wish that I was dead, that I was never born and that I should have been nothing but an abortion. I died a little when I was diagnosed with cancer. I died a little when I was diagnosed with learning disabilities and ADHD. I died a little when it hit me that I will never have a career or a life. I died a little when I realized that I’m incapable of trusting another human being. Whatever was left of me died when those policemen and women molested me and stripped me of my faith, hope and spirit. I tried to take my life but I was saved.
When those men raped me there was nothing left of me anymore except pain, apathy, disgrace, disgust, guilt and humiliation beyond measure. As I got dressed, one of them told me that they have pictures and videos of me now. He said “Now there is nothing you can do but listen to us and do as we tell you. We have recorded everything. You can chose to obey us or you can chose to go to jail where you will be raped for life by criminals. It won’t be as pleasant as this. All I’ve to do is submit the proof, book you under section 377 and arrest you.” With tears in my eyes I looked up at him. I could say nothing, absolutely nothing. He continued “I have your aadhar number, your mobile number, your landline number and every other detail that is needed for us track you down. You can’t run from us.” One of the thugs pulled me to him lifted my face to his and asked “You liked it didn’t you? You did have a good time, didn’t you? I’m sure you enjoyed it. Next time you can drink with us and do it without being drugged. But if you ever try to be smart, you will be looking at your family’s heads while we fuck you and then take your head.”
After they finished their speeches, they drove me back to my parent’s apartment. It was dark by then and all I could think of was my family and how am I going to save them from this? How am I going to manage all of this with my father being hospitalized? My worst nightmares have come true. I was raped again and I could do nothing about it. If I try to save just me, I would have to sacrifice my life; a risk I can never take. When I reached home, my mother and my aunt were waiting for me. My mother was furious and yelled at me for hanging out with friends at a time like this. She said I was a disappointment and that I should be more responsible and called me a retard and her biggest regret.
All I wanted to do was tell her “Amma, I was raped. Five bad men hurt me and raped me. I let them do all of that to protect our family.” But I couldn’t tell her. What if she blamed me for everything? What if something worse happened to her and my father because of these revelations? I couldn’t and of all the days I’ve lived, 28 years of my life I had to be strong on that day. I had to pick myself and move on to take care of my father. I had no choice, and not enough time to mourn for me. I shut myself in the bathroom, let the faucet and the shower run and screamed. Finally, I screamed, wailed and cried. Never in my life had I wanted a shoulder to cry on. Never in my life had I felt this lonely and broken. But I was and there was nothing I could do but live through it and experience it. I collected myself and left to the hospital. I had to take a earful from my younger brother for being irresponsible and selfish. There are moments now that I think maybe I deserve all this. Maybe I’m born to suffer. Even though all I want now is to die, I’m too weak to take my life. Now, I’m beyond the phase of questioning everything that happened to me. Why? Why me?
I haven’t slept in a month and now I’m again deprived of sleep and decided to write about this experience. I’m afraid to close my eyes. This haunting won’t stop. This agony won’t end. Again I’m taking a risk in writing about my second rape. But I’m writing this to you activists, to you community members, to you allies and to you stakeholders. Don’t give up the fight for LGBT rights and please be there for one another. We live among vicious and vile minds which think of nothing but violence, rape, deception and plunder. You, the community as a whole and the allies are all what you’ve got for one another. Please support one another, be there for one another and do not give up the fight. I beg of you.