Their Shadows

Last night, as I lay to sleep several memories conjured up in my mind, and the images of a ten year old me - naive and happy, playing around - flashed right in front of my eyes. It made me smile but what also accompanied them were the long buried memories, that I have often ignored talking about.

That man was as old as my grand dad, and would regularly visit me in the evenings to tutor me. I would live in the dread of meeting him and of the many evenings when his hands would be all over me, too scared to tell mommy about it. Mom guessed it on her own and he was shown the door and ‘thankfully’ only female teachers were engaged after that.

Then there were the memories of my teens when I was as chirpy and bubbly as any high school girl should be. A middle aged man, who was a family friend, father of a close friend and a highly placed bureaucrat, but had filthy intentions, I guess. To this date I have not been able to tell Mommy about it.

As I open my eyes to see my reflection on the wall, their faces became one- of the tutor, the uncle and the man named 'Tejpal', with the faces of the girls I have never met and the face of my daughter and the face of more girls who are dear to me as daughters should be.

Daughters who study far from their house - I pray for their safety and then I quietly go and stare at my daughter who is sleeping like a baby. I kiss her lightly, she opens her eyes and looks quizzically at me. I just silently smile back,

wondering if she tells everything to her 'Mommy' because I know there still are plenty ‘Tejpals’ in the world.

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