Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that crushed it
When I was seven, I was raped by my uncle. It was half a rape or a half rape, not sure which one to go with to be honest. These days a slap on the ass is a handshake and a handshake is a transgression, so I will let you decide on what to call it. I wouldn’t want to make anybody feel uncomfortable while speaking my truth.
Anywho, I’m digressing. Where was I?
Ah yes. Rape.
So, readers, my uncle prodded his way inside of me but never finished what he started. Somewhere in the house a family member was calling out my name, he stopped doing what he was doing, and told me to get up and go.
I don’t remember leaving the room but I do remember coming in. A foreign hand led me into the bathroom on the first floor of my grandfather’s house. This house, that had been in my family for decades, was a typical Surinamese house on poles. Secretive, a bit run down and hollow, like the people who lived in it.
As I walked through the door, stopped and then turned around, I watched my uncle close and lock the door behind him. Something abstruse was about to take place and I could seven-your-old sense it. I examined the room I was in, and everywhere I looked there was hardwood and unfamiliarity. The bathroom was more of a cubicle than an actual washroom. Cult movie like, with blistered paint, one flickering light and a mouldy minty-green shower curtain.
A walnut sized cockroach sauntered over my left foot, and as I looked down, I remember thinking, ‘scream’. I am not sure whether I wanted to scream because of the armoured insect touching my bare skin, or because my uncle just took of his pants in front of me. Either way, I should’ve screamed but I didn’t.
When he grabbed me by the shoulders and pushed me against the wall and then onto the floor, I felt cold and warm at the same time. I wanted to free myself with all that I had, but somehow, I couldn’t. This was a bad dream that I couldn’t wake up from, and the panic that welled up within my tiny frame felt like frozen heat. It throttled me and robbed me of a steady heartbeat.
There’s a particular smell to that you know? Fear. It has a certain smell.
Most of my memories are made up of stories that smell. And each of those stories are woven together to make a cacophony of one layered narrative. To me, everything was a scent. The car. The bike. The man. The child. The palm trees. The sugary veggies. The humming birds and the buzzing bees. Everything was a scent. And so was my rape.
Rape smelled like filthy hands moist with afternoon bustle. It smelled like smouldering wood chips, coloured cotton shirts, doors without handles but with a lock, and old pee, penned up in cold bathroom tiles. And somewhere in this heavy and humid mix, a whiff of sharp detergent would clash with the damp smells of tropical life, like the unexpected tangy thought of licking a lime.
On that day, I was cut in half. There was a real me and a not so real me. A shiny me and a filthy me. A perfect me and a defective me. A precious me and a contemptible me. A public me and a private me. A sweet looking Indian girl, with a bright smile hidden behind small brown fingers, and thoughts in my head that were both murderous and suicidal.
The dirt and the stains of the thoughts that formed after my rape, I carried with me all the way into my adulthood. They changed me from an inquisitive and joyous child into an awkward and unseen one. I wanted to poke his eyes out and rip all the greasy hairs of his scalp. Kick him. Scratch his face. Bang his head into a wall. Stomp on his ugly head and crush his flesh to pulp. I wanted him to bleed like he made me bleed. Over and over again until he would die. He had to die.
Now, I’ve wondered many times what I could’ve done differently. I thought that perhaps if I’d had 1 ponytail instead of 2 braids my level of hotness would’ve been less. Or, maybe if I had just screamed and made a ruckus someone would’ve come upstairs and punched the living shit out of my uncle, and my life would have been slightly less dramatic.
It would’ve, and in an alternate Universe I am living that life, surely, but not here, and not now. My current life, or everything that occurred, simply occurred. And I can’t do a thing about it. I don’t want to either.
First there’s no point. We all know we cannot change the past. And second, I know now that it was a gift. Some of you might think that what I am about to say is mental but hear me out darlings. There’s magic in misery.
Although I wasn’t always filled with exalted thoughts about my uncle, I am now. I think of him with compassion and have forgiven him for what he did. When one forgives two souls are set free you know? I never quite understood what that meant until now.
For the longest time I used what happened to me as an explanation, and more often than not, as an excuse to stand still. This was my story. The narrative of Monique.
I believed that the damage to my mind and heart was permanent. My fear thrived in a place of inaction, and all through my adulthood I bled on people who didn’t cut me.
My heart was dark and heavy yet people thought I was moonlit. I knew I had issues, of course I knew, but I thought I was thoroughly apt in the art of adapting. I believed I was handling everything quite well. By being honest and forthcoming, by telling people that I was flawed and at times obnoxious, I was processing my past while facing facts. In other words, I had given myself the freedom to claim sadness and mental instability, and blamed something or someone, the entire world, for my dramatic life.
Everything I have ever done in my life, from the choices of books to the picking of lovers, I had done because of the girl I stopped being when I was seven. It was like someone pressed the pause button to my life, and repeat played the same story over and over again.
There was a lingering truth that contaminated everything. As a child I was often lonely and afraid. Not so much because I was raped, but because I never felt safe afterwards. And even though it was a one-time thing, no matter how unfinished of an act, it altered the course of my life. It was a heavy load to carry.
We all live at a speed that doesn’t allow much time for anything to incubate or develop naturally. To heal my wounds, I needed to stop touching them but that meant I had to define a new me. One I had no idea how to do. Who was this new me and what exactly does she want?
I truly had no idea how to let go of the past and free myself of the prison I had built for myself. I knew I was the only one to grant me my freedom, and this life sentence was overturned the moment I got it. It was a gift.
The thought of my rape doesn’t make me cringe anymore. For the longest time the suffering that took place in my mind brought my life to a spiritual standstill, and it took me almost my entire life to think about what happened without feeling anything but grace.
Last year my cousin showed me a picture of my uncle, sitting in a garden, lumped over with his arms hanging on either side of his body. Unable to freely move his limbs because his illness prevents him to. He just sits there day in and day out waiting for someone to wheel him into the house. If only someone remembered to do so that is.
I feel for him. I have no hate towards him. No ill feelings. No resentment or grudge. I only wish him well. He was wrong but I don’t know about his conversations with God. I suppose The Lady loves us both, and only She truly knows how to keep Universal equilibrium. I should not interfere.
Before I ever could, God knew that there’d come a time that I would have to harness all my faculties to transcend whatever I had believed my story to be. This is all part of my becoming. I will not heal by going back to what broke me, and I alone am responsible for how long I let what hurt me, haunt me.
I had forgiven him years ago, but when I saw that picture, I could feel my heart swell with love for God and all the blessings in my life. Including the blessing of my uncle.
There is a gentleness that I feel when I look at Monique then and Monique now, you know? I’ve had many stories forced onto me by people with the best of intentions, by men of lesser nobility, and everything in between. I myself am forcing stories onto my children as I type. Some of them are good and some could be better, but forcing stories onto others is what happens. It’s what makes the world our world.
When I understood that every person has stories forced onto them, I started to detach myself from everything that happened in my younger years. Time compelled me to highlight those things that held me captive for so long, and then, I simply let go. I had decided to move on, free myself of old stories and go where the wind would take me.
This life is a dance. We are the dance and the dancer. The creator and the creation. The cause and effect.
Ask yourself. In this moment, what is the most loving thing I can do for myself? When you’re consumed with anguish and pale with despair, what is trying to emerge in that moment? And the answer always is, do good. The best thing I can do for myself is the best thing I can do for you. Because the stars in me are the stars is you.
Being the best version of yourself means that no matter what happens, you always choose right over wrong. You always pick the good over the bad. You always side with love instead of hate. He was God’s child just as much as I was.
I had to be kind. And I figured out, not that long ago, how much fullness that brings to my soul.
Sending you a bucket full of moonlit skies all the way from here to wherever you are.