Sunday, Aug 14, 2022

Nothing Happened

She went and complained to the college’s Sexual Harassment Cell. She was told that they could not help her because she had no proof.

Their relationship started the way most things do. It started well. She was his favourite student. She was everything his wife was not. She was a free spirit—confident and outspoken. He couldn’t help but give her extra attention in class. He felt she deserved every bit of it. In fact, he never made a secret of his preferences. This student-teacher relationship soon went beyond the classroom. She visited his place often. She helped his children with their studies. She made friends with his wife. He had declared that she was his little sister. He even became her local guardian. On the other hand, she started dating his brother, although discreetly.

This continued for a while until she asked the brother, her boy friend, to talk to his family about their relationship. The brother said he was too afraid and gave a list of some thousand excuses as to why he could not take such a step—a prior engagement was just one of them.

She took matters in her own hands. After all, she was in love. She called her favourite teacher up and confessed her love for his brother. She was told that nothing could be done since the brother was already promised to another woman. He also suddenly asked if she had slept with the brother, to which she said yes. She did not see a reason to lie.

A series of phone calls followed, mostly at night. They were full of sexual suggestions. Sometimes, open offers. She tried telling him that she only saw a teacher in him and could not possibly imagine him in any other way. The calls continued, on some pretext or the other and always ended up being the same. She thought of doing something about it. Maybe this is where she should have raised a stink, but she remained despondent, almost numb out of sheer disbelief.

Even before all this had started, he would often tell her, and not quite in an appropriate way, that he liked her. She had never cared. Now that things seemed to be going out of hand, she knew something must be done and yet other emotions seemed to conflict with her disgust. She did not want to be rude, he was a teacher after all and in no way did she want to jeopardize the relationship they had shared in the past. Even if he had no regard for it, she still did. She made herself believe that this madness that had seized him was only temporary, that very soon he would realise that his intentions were uncalled for and everything would go back to just as it was.

But, then, it finally happened. One fateful afternoon, he made a move. This time it was physical. She asked him to stay away. He said she was being playful. She told him that she didn’t like it. He insisted she was being coy. She would have slapped him, but something stopped her. Perhaps she still saw the man she once had immense respect and affection for. He grabbed her and drew her to an embrace. She twisted and wriggled. She wanted to scream, but she knew that would come to no use. There was no one around and she didn’t want it to be a public embarrassment.

Later she told his brother what had happened. He said: “You must have done something to bring this upon yourself.”

She wanted to file an FIR. But she remembered his kids. She was extremely fond of them. Making the matter public would mean him losing his job and misery for people who had absolutely nothing to do with what he had done. She went and complained to the college’s Sexual Harassment Cell. She was told that they could not help her because she had no proof. How could they believe that something like this had happened? Were there witnesses? It would be just her word against his. Was anyone willing to testify?

“Do you want me to get raped and then show you medical reports?” she asked. She didn’t even want them to make a case out of it. All they had to do was tick him off, so it would not happen again, to someone else. Her words had no impact. There was no response: Nothing happened.


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