Agony & Mental Torture
Pavitra was virtually thrown out of bed when her telephone rang at three in the morning. The time in Sri Lanka was 8 am. Her elder sister Needra was impatient to break the news to her sister in London about the sudden illness of their mother Noelene.
Noelene had been a healthy woman in her later forties until one evening she had a shower after getting drenched in the rain. Within an hour she developed high fever which did not respond to any pain-killing drugs.
Needra became worried when her mother started vomiting a blackish liquid. She was rushed to a private hospital immediately and warded. During the afternoon ward rounds the doctor read Noelen’s blood report and suddenly hit the panic button. He told Needra that her mother needed 15 pints of blood immediately.
“ The patient was suffering from Dengi and her blood count is seriously depleting rapidly”. The doctor advise her.
“ Is that serious doctor”?
“ Yes, if allowed to go down drastically there could be internal haemorrhage which would mean very serious consequences. We need to find 15 pints of blood of O-Negative type immediately.”
The doctor advised Needra further that donors’ blood would have to go through vigorous testing process for viruses, AID’s etc and the serum had to be administered in the form of ‘ platelets’, which meant that a minimum of 5-6 hours were required for the whole operation before it could be infused into the patient.
In London Pavitra received a second telephone call from Needra to inform her of the worst. The two sisters were clutching their telephone receivers from both ends and started crying. Pavitra in desperation tried to book a direct SriLankan Airways flight but the only available flight was going through Male which meant a few more hours of delay in getting to Colombo.
Finally Pavitra’s flight landed at Bandaranaike International Airport in Katunayake after a two hour delay at Male which meant that she could not get to the cemetery to be at her mother’s funeral in time before the cremation.
During the hullabaloo at the house after the funeral she did not see Hubert at all. Later Pavitra found out much to her relief that Hubert, her step-father, had abandoned their mother for another woman sometime ago. Noelene had been a good mother but she had been blinded by Hubert’s charm at first and terrified of him after marriage.
That night Pavitra went to bed hugging her mother’s photograph. She could not have a wink of sleep but was engrossed in deep thought and pain. Events and time overlapped flashing old and painful memories in her mind.
She remembered vividly how she celebrated her 12th birthday with her natural father Lyn; how the father surprised her with a computer as a birthday gift. She was a budding young adolescent, five foot tall with curly hair up to shoulder length. When she smiled, her bright shiny eyes tapered, founded rosy cheeks withdrew to their maximum muscle retraction exposing a set of pearl white shapely teeth which made her look very attractive at a glance with a deceptive look of a girl of 18 or 19!
A vivid recollection of past events completely got hold of her and she could visualise herself as a young girl hanging on to her father’s index finger and running about in the parks and everywhere.
‘What a happy family we have been and how blessed we were to have such loving and caring parents’ she use used to think, but what Pavitra did not realise was that providence at times could pick on someone purposely and give a harsh blow. She was a Christian and that made it even harder for her to understand as 12 year old girls the intricate philosophical attributes of Karma or the Law of Cause and Effect on people when she was separated from her father.
She remembered the day her beloved father, a man whom she worshipped like a god, had to leave home after a blazing row with the mother. The suddenness and the whole incident erupted like a volcano and the instant parting between her parents went through like a poisoned knife biting into the very core of her young heart. She became depressed and sobbed for days on end over the incident and her elder sister managed to console her explaining to her that ‘ in the present day and age these things do happen, families get split even after living as a unit under one roof for 20-25 years! At the end she had to be consoled by listening to her sister that the father would have to first go through a divorce and obtain a court order even to visit them!
Within 6 months of her father (Lyn’s) departure Pavitra was taken by surprise one morning with an aerogramme which arrived from London. She was overcome with joy having recognised her father’s handwriting on the address and impatiently opened the latter and read it swiftly. Her father had profusely apologised to both girls for ‘ abandoning’ them unexpectedly. Lyn had mentioned that he had to migrate to the UK and although he was 8-10.000 miles away from them, she was always close to his heart, mind and soul.
The first letter was followed by the second and the third and the communication went on like a ritual between father and the daughter closing the gap between the distances that kept them apart. In every letter Lyn made it a point to emphasise:
“Darling, no matter how long it takes for you and me to live under the same roof again, you will always and always be in my heart, soul and thought, every second of the hour, every hour, day and week – Dad.” That was something that gave Pavitra the courage and the spirit to face up to the challenges that were in store for her.
Hubert met Noelene at a Colombo social gathering after her separation from Lyn. Pavitra could remember deeply the first time she set eyes on Hubert. He looked so weird and frightening. He was bald, huge in stature and 6 ft tall.
Within months of Hubert moving into their house the whole atmosphere in the house changed. Hubert had an uncontrollable temper which the girls detested, especially when he started bellowing at their mother for his food. He projected an appearance of being always irritated which frightened young Pavitra.
A few weeks after Hubert’s arrival Needra, her elder sister, made a sudden and a rash decision to leave home to share a flat with a female colleague at work. Needra was young, pretty and was working as a Personal Assistant to a Colombo based foreign diplomat. She had a more sophisticated and mature outlook about her. Her mother trusted Needra and did not make a fuss when she told her about her wish to share a flat with a girl friend in Colombo.
Pavitra on the other hand thought that her mother’s approval of Needra to leave the house was because the mother would have sensed Hubert seemingly becoming a nuisance in every respect under their roof, especially when he was under the influence of liquor.
Seated on her bed in the middle of the night being unable to collect herself together about her mother’s loss one particular incident began to torment Pavitra. She tried hard to forget it, but she could not. Instead a negative effect tried to overpower her. It had been the cause over the years and this particular thought had always boomeranged in her mind from time to time devastating her mentality.
The sexual abuse on Pavitra by Hubert started just after six months of Needra leaving home. Pavitra could still feel the fear she experienced when Hubert touched her for the first time and whispered in her ear, “ If you are a good girl I will take you out to McDonalds in the car later”.
For months Pavitra tried to ignore him. She became more and more rebellious to the dislike of Hubert who in turn became nasty towards her. Pavitra was now trapped in a gulf between love she had for her mother and the hatred she was developing day after day towards Hubert. She was still a minor and apart from that she could not do much even if she wanted to leave the house and her mother altogether.
One late evening Hubert demanded her to go with him to buy her a McDonald’s dinner. After driving through Rajagiriya’s drive-through McDonalds, he suggested they go to Galle Face Green to consume the food in a more relaxed atmosphere.
For a while everything seemed to be normal at the Galle Face Green but when Hubert asked her to come back to the back of his Toyota van she felt a bit unusual. When Hubert later on asked her to take off her clothes and lie on a mattress he had laid on the floor of the van she felt like she was imagining things in a dream and not really happening to her but for someone else .
It was Pavitra’s first experience with a man and in a helpless situation as such that she started to shiver like a fish taken out of water. She became helpless, started to sweat with fear and not knowing what was in store for her in minutes!
When Hubert forcibly raped her on the mattress inside his van like an animal she felt sick. Her heart started to pound and thud with shock and repulsion as the brute continued to molest her. She started crying with pain and felt as if a knife had gone through her. That was how little Pavitra lost her virginity to the man she first thought was her step-father!
Two months later Hubert noticed her vomiting in the bathroom in the morning and was frightened that he had made her pregnant! He panicked and had to find a ploy to cover his sins. Pavitra was clueless and naïve to imagine that anything like that could happen to her.
Hubert approached Noelene and told her what he saw in the bathroom in the morning and Pavitra could be suffering from morning sickness. He advised Noelene not to dilly dally but to take her to a medical clinic and get medical opinion immediately. His conscience had started to play up as he was certain by that time little Pavitra had become pregnant by him.
Highly worried Noelene rushed to the Medical Clinic with Pavitra impatiently after consulting a friend who was a female gynaecologist at the clinic.
“ What is your name dear”? the lady doctor asked the girl calmly.
The gynaecologist waited patiently for Pavitra to raise her head and look up, then asked:
“ How old are you my dear..?”
“Fiften years old”
“ Do you know my dear that you are carrying a little baby in your tummy, almost 2 months old. That is what mothers call it being pregnant…”.
That shocked the little girl and her face stretched tight.
“Who is responsible for this criminal act…. Who is the father of the baby this innocent girl is carrying? Doctor paused.
Pavitra could not possibly answer that question in front of her mother; a quick hiccup managed to save her from that situation in answering. In deep silence her mother’s eyes briefly shut with shock and pain.
Pavitra was thrown into a state of shock where she could not move nor speak, yet could hear everything around her. As she fought back her tears Noelene moved still closer to her to comfort her which even made Pavitra more painful to bear.
When Noelene told Hubert about Pavitra’s condition and she had no idea who the father of the child was, Hubert shouted at her calling her a liar and a ‘slag’. Noelene however was sympathetic towards her daughter. Alter all she had given birth to her little girl and she had to do everything possible to save her from a social scandal as well as from any detrimental psychological aftermath that is certain to follow after this incident whoever the father was.
The young girl was only fifteen years of age and there was a whole world ahead of her and as a mother Noelene had to do something and in that respect, she was determined to see that her little girl did not become a psychological victim for the rest of her life because of one silly mishap she had been subjected to for whatever reason.
At the medical clinic later Pavitra’s misted eyes seemed to plead for help and support. She was a minor and had unfortunately become the plaything of fate! She had suddenly got marooned within cross currents being a captive of a pervert where neither she could control nor understand.
Noelene’ friend gynaecologist tried to explain to Noelene the gravity of the problem they had on their hands.
“Noelene, my dear friend, because your daughter is a minor and I am your friend as well as your general practitioner; I have to declare in my medical observations and judgement that the foetus is not healthy and the chances of endangering the mother’s health are high”.
“Under the Minor’s Act, you as a parent is allowed to consent before I could perform an official abortion on her. I need only one signature and if you can sign here, it could be formalised. I must also advise Noelene that it is the only formal way out of this, in this instance and the only way you can help your daughter for me as well to play safely in legal terms. Would you like to sign here…. please.”
Pavitra’s eyes shut, shoulders twitched and tears started to roll again as her mother took the pen from the doctor friend and signed across the dotted lines giving the gynaecologist the green light to perform an abortion on her.
However much Noelene grilled Pavitra to find out who the father of the child was, she always maintained naivety and maintained that she had no idea about it even after the abortion. She was pretty certain that her mother would not believe even if she were to pin point and say it was Hubert, so she did not bother to tell anything at all.
Pavitra suffered for months in silence and Noelen’s broad minded nature in handling the situation calmly and intelligently helped Pavitra to heal her psychological wounds. After her A-Level results Pavitra’s father Lyn sponsored her to go to London for higher education at the University of London. She saw it as a means of escaping from everything at home and jumped at the idea to be completely free and away from her step father and looked forward to unite with her natural father whom she worshipped.
In London, Pavitra once gain tried to put her broke life’s jig saw pieces into place amidst the comforts and love which she received in abundance from her father. Although she had meant to ask Lyn one day why he had to abandon them in the manner when they were so young, she never gave a thought to such thoughts again. Pavitra never wanted to upset her father anymore.
She finished her first degree at the UCL and Lyn organised a work permit for her to live and work in England. Her father still encouraged her to embark on a MSc and later on a PhD but she thought of making use of the gap-year facility granted to post-graduates and planned to go on a tour to Paris first, when she suddenly received her sister Needra’s phone call in the middle of night informing her about the mother’s illness.
After the mother’s seventh day alms giving Needra called Pavitra to a side. At first she panicked because she had never seen her sister behaving in such a cautious manner, especially when she said she wanted to discuss something of a confidential nature. Needra’s facial expressions made Pavitra more worried and impatient to know what it was.
“Gosh! Is she going to tell me that she is suffering from a cancerof some sort ?“ as the thoughts entered in Pavitra’s mind Needra blurted out:
“ Nangi I have to say something confidential which I have been keeping to myself for a long time”
Oh No ! Akki, don’t tell me that you got cancer or some terminal illness!”
“ It was a kind of psychological cancer and you will be shocked to hear it”
“Pleas Akki you are making me worried, please come out with it and make it quick”
“Can You remember the brute Huber, our so called step-father? That monster once forced me into the back of his van and sexually abused me; then he threatened me to go to bed with him whenever he fancied. He pressurised me to be his mistress, can you believe it? I could not possibly tell all these to the mother or you at the time, that was the reason I had to suddenly find a flat in Colombo and run for my life.” Needra gave a full confession.
Pavitra felt as if she was going to faint any moment having heard that from her sister. Both sisters were glad that at long last Hubert had left the country having abandoned their mother and was believed to be living in Dubai.
Later Needra explained to Pavitra how hard it had been to compress all those traumatic experiences of guilt and indelible nasty memories for such a long time.
“ I did not even want to tell mother about it and to make things worse for her as she had a plate full of worries having to put up with such a beast”. Needra managed to get rid of all she had compacted in her heart with long sigh.
Pavitra, on her part, decided to put concrete over her secrets and experiences with Hubert ensuring that no one else in the world knew the agony and the metal torture she had to undergo for yours on end.
That nasty experience in fact managed to put men off from her life forever.