Itu Chauduri Design/Catch News

'All fathers get drunk and push you around': surviving the boogeyman

Rushil @catchnews

This is a series of first-person accounts about family abuse and forgiveness.

Rushil, whose name has been changed to protect his anonymity, is a 20-year-old design student in Bangalore. This is his story.

My father kicked me when I was 11 years old. I know that the room was dark and my father reeked of alcohol. The kick displaced bones in my body. I had to be hospitalised. I know now that the household help filed an FIR.

He had hurt me before, many times.

I don't know if that was the last time he hit me. I don't remember whether the abuse continued only till I was strong enough to protect myself, or whether it ended earlier.

Read: four more evocative, intimate portraits of abuse by Shivani, Shashwat, Deborah Emmanuel, Krish

I don't know if my father acknowledges to himself that he is abusive when he is drunk. I don't know if the guilt is there and if it persists. I don't know why he did not distance himself from us when he knew he was going to return home drunk and dangerous.

I'm reluctant to tag it as abuse. I don't want him to carry the identity of an abuser, or myself that of a victim

I was 11 and stupid. I did not diagnose patterns - I did not see that he was only abusing me in the absence of my mother. I did not think there was anything awry about the abuse. All fathers get drunk and push you around - it was as simple as that.

Sometimes I tell myself that it still is that simple. I'm reluctant to tag it as abuse. I don't want him to carry the identity of an abuser, or myself the consequent tag of a victim.

We now share a cordial relationship - not a loving or happy one. We are each reclusive in our own bedrooms. His drinking continues unabated.

His physical abuse has died a gradual death - either because I've grown up or perhaps due to genuine repentance. My mother and I have taken the half-pragmatic, half-escapist route of continuing to live with him, in spite of the fact he is a verbally abusive alcoholic.

The need to stay a family unit may have something to do with our decision. But not forgiveness.

My father has never acknowledged that he is abusive. He is tremendously successful at work, enjoys the good will of all his employees, and is generally very well regarded in his social circles.

I imagine he hasn't spent a lot of time pondering how he is regarded at home. He seems unrepentant, which provides no impetus to forgive him. He seems to have no use for any forgiveness, so why should I beat myself up for not being able to forgive?

Sometimes, he seems to me like a helpless man at the hands of a vicious addiction. Sometimes, any effort he makes to change feels so half-baked that I find it difficult to believe he wants to change. It remains a confusing affair and I haven't quite resolved the puzzle.

I'm stuck firmly in the no-man's-land between forgiveness and hate, and I'm glad for this place. Resolution is neither necessary, nor imminent, and I'm happy to keep it this way.

Rushil @catchnews