This post is a piece of fiction. It is meant as a tribute to Elisabeth Fritzl, her children, and all the other children who lose out on their childhood and innocence due to the horror called incest.
Why wasn’t I ever your little girl or your baby? Who was I all those years that you never called me 'yours'? You never held my hands and taught me to walk, one tiny step at a time. You never bought me toys and chocolates and little trinkets when you came home from work. You never listened to me gushing about my first day in school or my first prize or my first crush. You never took me for walks in the park or shopping sprees at the market. You never hugged me when I was sick. You never wiped my tears when I was hurt.
Where were you all these years, Father? Oh, I forget. You were between my legs all this while. You never came up to look at me - your daughter, your flesh and blood, your child.
Surely I must have been, like all daughters in the world, the apple of your eye. What could have possibly turned me into a receptacle of your carnal desires? Did you hate me? Did I annoy or upset you? But I was always a good girl, the right mix of innocence and naughtiness. Wouldn't it have been good if the characteristics of this 'good' girl weren't also the characteristics of a daughter living with a terrible secret, trying to cover up the shame that should never have been hers? I grew up in a home where I was taught valuable lessons about not wasting money or time or an education. Why then am I left with a wasted childhood?
I will never forget that night. It was exactly a week after my seventh birthday, which you had failed to attend yet again. That evening, Mom had to go to a relative's place for a function and would only return the next morning. I was overjoyed thinking that I could finally have some time alone with you, Father. Evidently, you had the same thoughts. For very different reasons. You asked me if I'd like to lie down with you on the bed you shared with Mom and watch some TV. I was on cloud nine. My father was actually willing to spend quality time with me. I jumped up and reclined beside you, unaware of how that innocent decision would change my life forever. I found the TV program boring and soon drifted off to sleep. Suddenly, I woke up completely and found myself to be drenched in cold sweat. By the time I could even comprehend what had woken me so abruptly, I became aware of your fingers groping under my frock and beneath my panty. I saw you wearing nothing but a crazed expression on your face, your eyes glazed over with something so unfamiliar yet so familiar. Lust, I later learnt. I froze, and in that very instant, time froze for me. Forever.
Had it been a one-off incident, as I fervently hoped it would be, I could have tried to forget and move on with my life. I could even have forgiven you for what you did to me that day. But it happened again, and again, and again. I tried to explain to Mom the very next day after that first time, but I just couldn't believe what had happened could possibly be true, and I forbade myself from ever again mentioning it to her till I lived. I had no one to go to except you, to satiate your perversion and make you feel 'like a man'. That was what you said it was for, didn't you? I was fortunate to have been chosen by you, you had said. Only I didn't know it was to remind you of your masculinity whenever you had the tiniest of doubts about it. Over the years, my body became numb to the disgust I felt each time you ravaged me. Now I felt nothing but my soul getting crushed every time. I found my self blown up into a zillion shreds, never ever to be brought together again. Worse, I was alive the morning after each night of abuse.
I taught myself to believe I was not being raped. I told myself it was not happening to me. Bit by bit, agonisingly slow, I could feel life draining out of me. I had travelled beyond the boundaries of pain, beyond the worst of nightmares, beyond the greatest of fears. I saw you every morning, smiling at me like a doting father would and a ravager would never. Every fraction of every moment I realised that I was going to die. But I didn't. Maybe I wasn't meant to die. Maybe I had to live through and out of this. Exactly ten years and a thousand deaths after you had first defiled everything that was supposed to be sacred to me, I told Mom.
I saw the horror in the eyes and on the face of my mother. How she had loved me and cuddled me whenever I had wanted her to. She had such radiant dreams for me, dreams that she could now see shattering before her very eyes. I was terrified, possibly even more than that night I had felt your hand inside my panties. Had I failed her? Would she hate me and be repulsed? Would she blame me for letting you do this to me? Would she berate me for not having told her the very next day it first happened? Would she side with you and leave me to deal with my broken self alone, yet again? She knelt in front of me, looking straight into my stricken eyes. In that instant, I saw sense in all this madness. The eyes that were locked on to mine were, for a welcome change, glazed over with love and kindness. She understood.
I was going on a journey which I couldn't avoid. I had no idea where it would take me. But I knew this - I would not let you steer my life anymore. I had to pick up the pieces of my shattered being and put them back together. I promised myself I would do all I can to see that you get what's coming to you. That day I had told Mom. Now I told the world.
Today, exactly twelve years after that day I cried with joy when you asked me to share your bed, I cry with joy again. Not because I have won the lawsuit I filed against you sexual abuse. Not because I have managed to get you sentenced to a lifetime behind bars. Not because I know you will pay for some fraction of your crime now. Because I can breathe again. Because I am free, finally free of the horror I witnessed even before I was old enough to understand what horror was. Because I have finally shed the load of guilt and shame that I was forced to carry - your load, but my burden. Because I am going home for the first time today, a place where Mom and I will begin to build our lives anew. Because I know that, like yesterday and like today, Mom will always be with me and stand by me tomorrow, no matter what. Because I can smile again. Because I am free - free of being your daughter.
I sometimes suffer the guilt of sending you, my own father, to a harsh and merciless life. But one look into the mirror, something I had despised for twelve years, convinces me that I did what was right. Nothing would have been able to rest my conscience if I had faltered in taking this one difficult but morally correct step. The silence is gone, there is no more silence now. Today is the beginning of my new life. I am starting over today. I am surrounded by my Mother and my friends who all love me. I look out my window and see beauty all around me. I have begun to talk and laugh and sing. I am awake. I am alive. I am happy.
I believed in these words that first night twelve years ago, though in a strikingly different context I look at Mom and repeat them one more time. "There is no place like home."