by my friend Harrish Iyer
I wish to share that I have been very upset by this allegation by Mr. Tejpal, besides many others . “The complaint is clearly motivated, false and an afterthought with oblique motives. The lady continued to participate in the conference with elan”. I wonder if he would have not questioned her rectitude if she had swollen eyes and was in a victim mold after being sexually assaulted by him. As she said, she was doing her duty. I would also like to highlight that I am a survivor of child sexual abuse, it took me 11 years of continuous abuse to learn to say “NO”. All these 11 years, I was being abused. Many times, my abuser didn’t have to apply any force, for I knew that I couldn’t resist, I simply took my clothes off and lied down on the bed, naked as his feast. All these 11 years, my family never got to know about my abuse, because I was quiet and acted absolutely normal in front of everyone.
But in fact Mr. Tejpal’s claim “The lady continued to participate in the conference with elan” is completely baseless. On 08 November 2013 I was a panelist at THiNK, ironically it was on Rape titled “The Beast in our Midst” . I met the complainant briefly minutes before I went on stage. She was a little lost in her own world. Mr. Tejpal was also hovering over the back stage where the panelists were seated at that time. Suzette Jordan, the park street rape survivor was my co panelist and a friend of the complainant as well. She and I both shared with each other that the complaint seems a little distant. Suzette and I, having spoken to many many survivors of abuse besides being survivors ourselves of this ghastly crime, could tell intuitively that there was something that has gone awry with her, though we could not pin point on sexual assault. The issue of whether she was normal or not normal is immaterial, still I feel it is important to make my point.
On 10 November 2013, Suzette and I wanted to get a picture with Robert De Niro. We requested one of the Tehelka staffers to help us get a snap with him. We were taken to the backyard. Robert De Niro was standing with the complainant. On seeing her my first reaction was to hug her. She usually in uninhibited in her affection, she kept her hand in between when I reached out to embrace her. I could instantly sense that something was wrong. Suzette and I attributed it to many things. We both discussed her over lunch, subconsciously, it was affecting us but we could not still pinpoint on the problem. Our instincts were guiding us to a direction that we dreaded to go, but we didn’t verbalize our scary thoughts to each other. Suzette and I chatted that she was behaving so because she is stressed. Being the shadow for such a high profile guest is not an easy task we thought.
When we got to know about her case, we could put the puzzle together. We understood that she was in no way “Participating in the conference with elan”. Much that Mr. Tejpal would have liked her to bow down and submit, she chose to speak vociferously, articulately and clearly.
Ironic as it could get, I didn’t know much about THiNK, and I went to the event as a speaker only on my friend, the complainant’s behest and the professional relationship that I shared with her and the magazine. More ironically, the one who covered stories on rape found herself becoming the story. But guess, life prepares you for the unforeseen future in strange ways. hai naa?