On a dark night in 1990 a stranger held a knife to my neck and sexually assaulted me. The only reason I was not raped was because I was on my period. He asked for proof. I showed him.
Afterwards, he robbed me of all my money and jewellery, and I was told, as he walked out the door, not to scream or he would kill me. He left. I screamed. I am still alive.
The next few months after the assault are too complex for me to write about here. I dropped out of university for a while. I withdrew into my shell. I felt dirty. I saw a shrink. But I never really discussed it with my family. I couldn’t bring myself to and I think they were faintly relieved that I didn’t – I don’t think they could have borne the weight of hearing the details so I spared them.
My assailant was found but never prosecuted – in the part of the world in which I grew up, things like this are ‘settled’ between the families. An apology suffices. It didn’t for me – but I had no other choice.
This is the baggage I have carried around with me for 16 years now. Sometimes its light and I carry it with ease – this means that many months go by and I don’t think about that night and what happened to me. But sometimes the baggage gets incredibly heavy and the weight of the memory threatens to crush me and it’s all I think about for weeks – just as I have this past one week. I lie in bed and relive every second of that night in my mind, just as if it happened yesterday. The memory is as clear as a running brook which never stops only not as pretty.
That night has left its little marks behind – little deposits of quirky behaviour which serve as a reminder. For example -
I don’t like anyone walking behind me. If I notice that someone has been walking behind me for longer than I am comfortable with, I stop and let them walk past. I am constantly on the alert when I am out and about, constantly. I have perfected the art of using the reflections in the corners of the lenses of my glasses to watch what’s going on behind me. I still brush my teeth for far too long – sometimes till my gums are raw and bleeding. Little deposits.
None of my friends know this. I never discuss it. And my husband and family never mention it or ask me questions about it. Sometimes I wish they would though so I can release this dam which builds up inside. But they don’t and I move on.
I am glad I can share this with you – the strangers in my life who know me so well and yet don’t. It’s made the baggage much lighter tonight. Thank you.
Labels: Sunday Scribbings