They had recently started hanging out alone. Still not dating, but they knew they were at least becoming the best of friends. They had a favorite spot too. That table at that fast food joint at that metro station was their place to have their usual ice cream. Let’s be clear though. They weren’t preferred customers. They always sat for more than a couple of hours, and on most days, had no more than one ice cream each.
It was another usual day for that season – cold, dry, and gloomy. They were sitting at their usual spot having a usual conversation – studies, movies, friends, books, etc. Then something unusual happened. She started trembling. He was taken aback. She started crying. What could’ve possibly happened? They were just talking about ‘Monsoon Wedding.’ Did that movie had something that disturbed her? Oh my god. Was she a victim of child abuse? Could he ask? She was, he figured. Still, he asked to confirm. She was inconsolable now. She was drawing on her pain. The remnants of her abusive childhood had resurfaced. There was nothing he could do to make her feel better. He was clueless. It was best for him to let her cry. Get it all out, he felt. She’ll feel better, he felt. He held her hand. He could feel her agony.
He wondered what is it like for someone to be sexually abused as a child, especially by someone known? Does the child know it is wrong when it happens or does she/he realize much later in her/his life? What does one do as and when they figure – confront the perpetrator, tell parents, or just simply feel appalled but move on? How does one react to children of the perpetrator? He had no answers. He just sat there looking at her, waiting for her to pull herself together. He hoped that sharing eased her suffering. He couldn’t be sure. It was time to go.