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A lesson for life

I remember the white tube light in the drawing room; the windows hidden by heavy dark green drapes. The only sound in the room would be the whirring of the fan. As he would settle his ample self down on the sofa he would give me a look which I later realised was quite lecherous but at the age of six all I got was a vague feeling of general uneasiness and a slight sense of fear.

Mr Liaquat was our neighbour. He was retired, his wife had passed away and he lived with his three daughters who worked for different private organisations. The family was liked and respected in general by the entire neighbourhood in PECHS, but Mr Liaquat had gained an extra bit of respect and trust by utilising his time to teach the neighbourhood children math and other subjects in their homes, one-on-one at affordable fees.

Both my parents were at work, my kid brother busy destroying something, somewhere in the house, our maid in the kitchen while I sat down for my math lesson with Mr Liaquat every afternoon at four.

I had little or no aptitude for arithmetic and Mr Liaquat’s weakness was for little girls. If my maid who brought a glass of water or tea for him during the lesson hadn’t spotted what she did, what went on would have gone on for much longer without my parents knowing, and with me becoming (even more) scarred for life.

Mr Liaquat would help me with simple arithmetic and at some point during the lesson, he would ask me to do something that was not the done thing. I don’t remember if he touched me, or wanted me to touch him but I clearly remember that it was sneaky, unpleasant and unwelcome.

One day the maid came in and saw something and told my mother who told my father — there were no more arithmetic lesson after that. I could sense something when my mother tried to ask me questions which I was confused about answering. All I remember is that I was told never to talk to Mr Liaquat again, he was a bad man. Later, if I saw him at the general store near my house where all the kids went to buy chips or sweets, I would want to run as a horrible feeling swelled in my throat.

What went on between my parents made me feel that I had done something wrong and for a long, long time I felt guilty and ashamed about something that I had done unknowingly. I also remember thinking that if I tell my mother every little ‘wrong’ thing that my brother did during the day, why didn’t I tell her about what Mr Liaqut was up to? When and why did the overwhelming feeling of fear creep in? Was I a freak child he had chosen for this sleazy purpose or did he do it to other children too? I don’t know how far this childhood incident has affected my psyche but I know that when it came to my own little girl, I was always very careful about leaving her alone with even the most trusted person.

*writer has used a pseudonym for privacy