Indian classical dance sounds easy, well, it’s not. Bharata Muni’s Natya Shastra is the foundation treatise for the classical dances in India. This cult needs an extreme discipline of mind, body, soul, expressions, gestures and practice. It’s a form of expression of spiritual ideas, virtues and the essence of the scriptures. If we get to the basics like we learn our first letters of the alphabet this cult needs to be incorporated at a very early age, and the right age is four. The body is capable of twisting into the postures, mudras, movement of pelvis, neck and chest so that you can attain the finery.
This wasn’t the case with “Ronita”. She was nineteen when she decided to learn “Odissi”. Call it her sudden desire, watching her friends dance when she requested her mother to get a tutor for her. Ronita has just been declared a woman, passed her democratic rights and had captivating features enough to roll an eyeball for sure. She heard the Ghungroo beats while approaching her class and she dreamt of the archaeological sites related to Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism where she could perform. The tutor was in his late forties, a charming man, sharp features, training those girls when he looked at her, “Welcome Ronita” he greeted.
He continued his practice with the others while Ronita watched. Gradually the session got over when the tutor asked her to bend and touch the floor, take the blessing of Mother Earth and then hit the dance floor. She did as asked, what she couldn’t were the steps, the gestures, the expressions, the neck movements. The days turned to weeks, weeks turned to months but she couldn’t grasp that cult. But something else was happening to her, she started enjoying her classes, she looked forward her sessions but why?
She did as asked, what she couldn’t were the steps, the gestures, the expressions, the neck movements.
There goes the answer, each session of hers was conducted alone and instead of dancing what she did was an escapade with the tutor. Given to her alluring features, the tutor took an instant liking towards her; call it her vulnerability she got drawn to the man double her age. Initially, it started with the touches, her tutor did try to mould her but in the process landed up in a sexual escapade.
Gradually, Ronita developed a sign of insecurity, she needed validation by her tutor. All was happening hunky-dory when they got caught during a raunchy session by the wife of the tutor and that was the beginning of the destruction. The tutor started ignoring her, she was asked to leave the dance class, her dreams of performing with the finery of the motif were shattered, her dreams of building a home with her tutor was broken and she grew up an insecure adult in need of validation yet by a man.
We talk of paedophilia, but sexual abuse as an adult can also have a severe effect on females.
The rage of hormones, the premenstrual desire, an urge to have sex gets difficult to control. There has been a rise of cases reported of victims of adolescence sex abuse according to police files. Ronita may be an adult but with a mind of a child. It would be wrong to call her a matured adult since she had a difficulty in understanding the right versus wrong and it’s common.
The stark reality is the effects of sexual abuse can be regardless of age, gender, family income, culture, race, religion, physical appearance, sexuality, intellect, disability etc.
Most sexual abuse is perpetrated by someone within the social sphere – for example, a relative, a family friend, a teacher, youth worker, religious leader, neighbour.
Despite the stereotypical image of the abuser propagated by the media, abusers usually do not look like monsters and it is relatively rare for them to be strangers.
The majority of adolescent abuses never reported, and often this is because they are afraid of their parents’ reactions. They fear getting in trouble, or because they don’t know how to tell. The victims who keep the abuse secret are more likely to experience severe physical and emotional consequences and Ronita was the perfect example. She started looking at men as an object for fulfilling her desires. Her body language changed, she could attract men very fast. Call it vulnerability or the aftermath of the abuse but it had a deep impact on her mind.
The abuse broke her to such an extent that she should love to run behind matured men ignoring the ones of her age. Each time she ran after the married guys, she was used and thrown away, like a doormat, she was called when needed and then shunned. She almost turned a slut and on a verge of a nervous breakdown when she realized the need to speak to her parents.
The first step to avoid such abuses is to raise awareness, talk about it, set free the guilt the victims carry, explain the need to respect the body and not to trade.
Sometimes it’s just molestation but when vigour is expeditious it’s called sexual spank. The offender is referred to as a sexual abuser or (often pejoratively) molester. It’s a mandate to the feminine gender to understand the touch factor right before hitting the menarche, that’s when the hormones come into the picture. Ronita had a severe impact, she lost her self-esteem, was branded a home-breaker by the women whose men she targeted/allured unknowingly.
Ellen Bass and Laura Davis say in “The Courage to Heal ”
“So often survivors have had their experiences denied, trivialized or distorted. Writing is an important avenue for healing because it gives you the opportunity to define your own reality. You can say: This did happen to me. It was that bad. It was the fault & responsibility of the adult. I was-and am-innocent.”
It’s a catharsis, a channel to heal. Although writing can heal, one needs to seek the help of professional counsellors, psychiatrist and most important once you realize your value self-work is necessary. It’s a slow painful process but you will grow once you are the hardest hit. Remember, you are strong, you are important.
Roshni did survive, she couldn’t learn Odissi but now she is a teacher who grooms and nurture young minds.
No matter how much evil you see, it’s important for everyone to understand that there is more light than darkness. Fight the evil, respect your body, do not trade, for you cannot be comfortable without your approval.
( Picture credit: Pinterest)
It’s a true story, name changed to protect identity.
Rimli Bhattacharya is a First class gold medalist in Mechanical Engineering from National Institute of Technology, an MBA in supply chain management and is engaged with a corporate sector. She writes for Several magazines, Times of India, Engineering Journals, Blog spots and is also an Indian Classical Dancer. She is based out of Mumbai. Rimli has been awarded a Star Blogger by team Bonobology for her essay “Running a solo Marathon”.
The views expressed are author’s own.