No! means No!
I met Rajni (name has been altered to protect the individual’s identity) six years ago at an event. I was running late from my last meeting of the day and contemplated whether I should go for this workshop or just cancel it, however, there was a strong force that compelled me to go. Miraculously, I made it with seconds to spare before the workshop began, there was only one seat remaining and I noisily shuffled around to get to the seat and settle down. The girl sitting next to me smiled welcomingly and all the tension in my shoulders from rushing to make it on time melted away. I looked at her intently and had never seen her in the previous workshops, anyway during the coffee break she introduced herself as Rajni, she became a part of our study group and later our mere acquaintance turned into becoming good friends.
Another friend of mine, Jake (not his original name) from the workshop showed an interest in Rajni and wanted to take her out on a date but did not have the confidence to do so. After a lot of pleading and bribing I agreed to matchmake. In the time I had known Rajni, which was a year at the time, I had never heard her mention a boyfriend, or dating anyone. I knew she was not married, don’t ask me how, you can just tell. Instead of taking the direct approach of matchmaking, I concocted a plan to go out clubbing and learn if there was chemistry between Rajni and Jake. Jake was attentive all evening and Rajni was civil but kept her distance. While we were on the dancefloor, with a bit of courage Jake joined us and began to dance with Rajni and I slowly stepped away from the two of them to give them a little privacy. I went back to our table and sat for a while to check my mobile for messages.
Looking up to where Rajni and Jake were dancing, I saw her push him away with force and she ran to our table, grabbed her handbag, and ran out of the club. Jake looked concerned and began to follow her. I stopped him and asked him to wait for me until I had spoken to Rajni. I made my way out of the club catching my breath and searched for Rajni. She was nowhere to be seen at first, I thought she might have taken a cab back to our hotel. I walked up to the bouncer at the door and enquired whether he had seen my friend, and he pointed towards a bench. I walked up to her and sat down in silence which seemed to last for hours…
“You must think I am an idiot for running away from the club in a panic, did you put Jake up to this?... You know what don’t even answer that!... …. I was raped.” Said Rajni
I was not expecting that, I thought it was just an Indian girl thing where you are not allowed to date before marriage, I encouraged Rajni to carry on.
“It happened five years ago, my dad was always away working or getting drunk at a pub, mum lived in the fear that dad would come home in a foul mood and beat her for no reason at all. Yeah, I guess many things happen behind closed doors. One of my brothers moved out of the house as he could not stand being around my dad. And my youngest brother was away at Uni. Me being the only girl I had a lot of responsibilities. I was in my final year at Uni, there was a lot of pressure to get married and I was always neglected by both my parents. Dad in his own world and mum was always worried about her safety but showing society that she was happy.
I knew Kully (not his real name) when we were kids, our dads were friends, they grew up in the same village in India. I had not seen him in years, and I met him first at a family function that my parents and I attended. Coincidentally at the reception we all sat at the same table, he sat across from me and would keep glancing in my direction every so often. My cousins came over to our table and asked my dad for permission to allow me to join them on the dance floor. Dad reluctantly agreed, before I left the table dad grabbed my hand and said, ‘Make sure you dance respectfully and dignifiedly, people are watching you.’
How does one dance “dignifiedly”? I just wanted to go back and sit at our table and not even bother, but my cousin pulled me to the dance floor, and for a moment I forgot where I was and just danced to the rhythm. After a while I felt like I was being watched, which is a little silly because everyone was watching the dance floor. But this was different, so I turned around to face our table, and my eyes met Kully’s and we stared for a whole 5 seconds before I turned my back towards our table again. Anyway, after a while Kully joined our group at the dance floor and we danced for a while.
It was time to go after the reception and I had gone to the restroom before we began our hour-long journey back home. Outside the restroom, I saw Kully standing at the opposite wall, he straightened as I walked out, and approached me. ‘I have been watching you all afternoon and you are so beautiful, I wanted to let you know before you go.’ I didn’t know how to react…I guess I felt a warm fuzzy feeling that someone might like me. He held my hand and pushed a piece of tissue paper in the palm of my hand and walked away, not daring to look at it, I shoved it in my purse and went to look for my parents. That night alone in my bedroom, I took out the paper to read the message. ‘I HOPE YOU CALL ME, 07xxxxxxxxx. K.’
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After a week I gathered the courage to call him, and from then on, we chatted every day and he told me how much he liked me and fancied me and was crazy about me and wanted to date me. I was falling in love with him. One weekend my parents were traveling for a wedding, and they were going to stay the night over, I could not go as I had my final year exams the following week. Besides if I needed anything I was to call my brothers. Little did my parents know that my older brother had flown out to Tenerife for his mate’s stag and my younger brother hardly came at the weekends from Uni.
It was a Saturday evening, and I was in the kitchen preparing a sandwich and I heard the doorbell ring. I went to see who it was and Kully was waiting on the other side of the door. He knew that I had not gone to the wedding, but he had told me that he was going with his parents. I did not have time to run upstairs to put make up on, so I just sorted my appearance in the hallway mirror and opened the front door. ‘Hi Rajni, can I come in?’ he asked, I wasn’t sure if I should let him in the house while I was alone, but I let him in anyway as our families knew each other and I had been speaking to him for two months, not that I was counting.
‘I hope you didn’t mind me coming over, I needed to see you’, he said.
‘I thought you went to the wedding with your parents’, I enquired
‘I thought you would be happy to see me, as I have been wanting to see you for a very long time, you know I am falling for you and crazy about you’, he retorted.
I offered to get him a drink, and went into the kitchen, he followed me into the kitchen, and he closed the distance between us, and he kissed me. One thing led to another, and we were in my bedroom, at one point I felt this was going too fast and I did tell him that we ought to take it slow. But he charmed his way and began to penetrate me, I didn’t feel right about it, and I asked him to stop, but he wouldn’t. ‘Just shut up and enjoy it, you know you want it!’ he sniggered at me. I tried hard to push him off me, but he was too strong for me. It wasn’t enjoyable at all, I felt like I had been violated, abused and I had bruises on my wrists from the force he had applied. Without a word he walked out of my parents’ house, that night I showered 3 times to wash away the filth, I felt disgusted. I confided in my best friend, and she said I deserved it because I let him in the house and that it was my fault. I couldn’t report it to the police because I was ashamed and the shame it would bring my parents. That made me sick and I have lived with that ever since. You must see that I wasn’t in the wrong, Kiran.”
I gave her a big hug and told her that her best friend is an idiot, and it was not Rajni’s fault that she got raped. When someone says “No” means “NO!”, simple! That night was a turning point for Rajni, and she began to realise that it was never her fault, she was at a vulnerable point in life and the little attention she got she grasped on to with dear life. She has had a lot of therapy over the years and has learnt to let go of it and she has also forgiven her rapist, for her peace of mind.
I recently met Rajni for a coffee and she looked a lot happier and 6 months pregnant, and yes she went on to date Jake and marry him. “He got arrested!!!” exclaimed Rajni, I had a questioning look on my face. “Kully got arrested for grooming underage girls!!! Karma I guess catches up with you.” She speaks. We have a brief chat and change the subject.
There are a lot of rape cases that go unreported due to many victims feeling vulnerable, ashamed, the shame it will bring their family and some do not talk about it at all and end up living with the guilt. All I want to say is that it is my humble request to report these cases to the authorities so that justice is served, or speak to someone you feel comfortable with and who can help you. And to those who take advantage of vulnerable individuals, when someone says NO! to sex it means NO! Period.
Narrated by Kiran Kaur, the Inspire Tale of an Anonymous friend - September 2021
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