Dear Uncle – for DraftSpace April
In the United States, it is reported that last year, 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys was a victim of child sexual abuse. In Malaysia, the numbers are hard to locate, but it is inevitably on the rise. There is lack of attention paid to the matter, a disheartening fact that means that many women have to grow up, carrying such a secret. This letter is for them.
I do not know if you will ever read this, hear what I am going to say or if it will even move a single ounce of your being. I do not know if this letter will be read by anyone, come to think of it.
But I know I need to say these things. For the sake of one person who it will matter most for – ME.
I am in my 30s now. I am strong, confident, beautiful and accomplished in many ways. I have a husband who adores me, from the softness of my skin down to the very core of me. Together, we have given life to a beautiful child, the centre of our universe.
To the onlooker, I have many things in favour of me. And really, there is nothing in my life that I would change. Except for one thing.
Maybe you have forgotten, but I haven’t.
I was eight years old. My family, you and your lovely wife,my aunt, decided to take a
trip to Port Dickson to entertain our German relatives. You volunteered to book the Tenaga Nasional chalet and the plans were laid. We packed our bags, some fruits and the Germans, and whisked away for a weekend by the beach.
I remember the heat biting at my skin, the thick forest, the short walk to the beach, the electric ceiling fans circling and that afternoon. I was wearing a red checked T shirt and a denim shorts. I was chubby and my hair short. My aunt and mother were outside talking and you came by, mentioning a walk. I don’t know why or how, but they told me to go with you. We walked into the thick of the forest, but cannot remember the conversation along the way or how long the journey took. You suddenly stopped and pointed to the tree top, saying there was a bird there. I looked up, and couldn’t see anything. You persisted and said I had to stand where you were.
Even at eight years old, I knew something was amiss. My heart dropped to the earth. In not knowing what else to do, I stood where you told me to – against you. You kept telling me to look at the trees, to look for the bird as you rubbed against my back. I knew you were lying. There was no bird, nothing there to be seen save for a pedophile and a lost child.
In that instant, I numbed myself, slaying any emotions, hoping for the moment to pass. For it to end. For you to finish.
I cannot remember the walk back, I cannot remember anything else of that trip. I went back home with a feeling that what you did was wrong. That is not what uncles do. But I didn’t want to tell anyone.
The next few years, I resented being alone with you. You moved on to fondling my young breasts – once even in my own house.
I was so relieved when our families fought and stopped talking to each other. It meant I didn’t have to see you anymore. I was free, or at least I thought I was.
It wasn’t until my 20s that I felt at home in my own body again. There were times in my teenage years when I hated my flesh. I would scratch so hard, trying to peel it off and have a new body – an undefiled one. The only thing that was the result of that was bouts of sobbing. I hated my body so much.
But over time and thanks to the pure love of a man, I was finally able to truly love myself. To feel proud of my body, to accept it, love it and nourish it, on the inside and on the outside. I learnt that no one can do things to me or take things away from me.
For so long, I wanted you to suffer. But seeing you in your coffin last year, I can’t say it made me happy. You suffered heart problems and excruciating pain in your last few years as you fleeted between life and death. Was I happy? Not exactly, but I secretly hoped that this was God giving you what you deserved. And when I leaned forward to pay last respects to your dead 90lb body, I whispered to God to take you. To do what He willed with you and that your reign over me in this world was over.
However, it is only in the recent few months that I have learnt that I cannot truly move on..until I forgive you. I am trying hard to do this. To forgive you for what you have done. It does not mean that I am making excuses or saying what you did was excusable.
I am whole again and I desire peace, and there is no road to that which doesn’t require one forgiveness. But I am ready for this last part of my healing process. I am breaking the last chains which your actions are holding me in bondage. I am crumbling the links and crushing them into dust.
I am cleaning up the malice and contempt I have for you and your actions, surrendering them to God. And whether He chooses to forgive you, that is His decision. He loves me and that is all that matters.
Goodbye, once and for all.