Trigger warning: Graphic descriptions of sexual violence.
As a child, I had great faith in Shiva. This faith is what led me to him. My parents sanctioned his presence because he was a worshipper. People used to call him ‘guru ji’, and we would call him our ‘mama’, the word for mother’s brother.
He was an Aghori. A vamacharic, ascetic, Shaiva sadhu. I was a 12-year-old. Although we both worshipped Shiva, our methods were different.
I worshipped Shiva as if the god lived in me and he worshipped Shiva by calling upon his name through mantras, making a show of the ‘powers’ that he learned.
My parents were out of town, my sister had gone to run some errands and it was just another day.
It was just my body and his body in the house, along with the God that we worshipped. I was in the kitchen, cooking something, when suddenly I smelled flowers. I turned around and saw him standing at the threshold of the kitchen door.
I remember asking him where the beautiful smell was coming from, and he told me that he had been praying, that Shiva came over to him and asked him to do certain things that will make our lives better. I was overjoyed. He returned to his room, tired from praying.
The lunch was ready. I called him and we ate together. I saved some for my sister, and went into kitchen to clean the utensils.
He came in the kitchen and held me from the back and asked me to hug him as he wanted to pass on the God’s blessings to me. I did exactly what he asked me to do. I remember thanking God for thinking about my family and me. I went back to my room and started studying. Then I heard him call my name.
I went into his room and he asked me to sit next to him. He told me that Shiva has asked him to do a special kind of worship, that will make things better at home. It will make everything okay and I will become “pure”.
He told me to remove my t-shirt as he was going to worship the Shiva inside me. I was hesitant, but he repeated it. And then came the threat: if I refuse, Shiva will punish my parents and kill them.
That was the first time I was afraid of Shiva. I doubted his ways and existence. At 12, my knowledge was little, but I knew that Shiva would never ask me to do something like this. Little did I know then that it was his god that he was going to worship and not the Shiva that resided within me.
I was scared. I told the Shiva I believed in that I did not feel very good and was unable to understand this method of worship.
But my attacker continued with what he had started in the name of Shiva. He removed my clothes and started to feel my body. I was screaming on the inside, but on the outside I couldn’t muster a shred of courage to do anything because I believed in my heart of hearts that my parents’ life was at stake.
After he was done “worshipping”, he stopped. I went back to my room, locked it and wailed.
I was now afraid of the very god that he and I worshipped, Shiva. He took what was inside me. He took my belief, my faith, my trust and my god with him.
What did he mean by “pure,” I still wonder? Because all he did was kill the innocence in me, leaving all that was bad behind.