Recently, we were approached by a young man whose life has been torn apart by the vestigial traumas of his childhood. For the majority of his life, he battled deep psychological issues on his own, masking his pain with self-destruction and he didn’t know where to seek help. In Mauritius, psychological trauma is rarely ever broached into the public space and people might feel vulnerable to open up to their own family members, because whether we like it or not, a whole generation of people were brought up with a myriad of prejudices and taught that anything slightly wayward about their lifestyle might bring them shame. Which is why, many people tend to bottle up the unspeakable atrocities that had been meted out to them for fear that their vulnerabilities might turn them into a laughing stock.
Ravin (fictitious name) was tormented by his own mother throughout his childhood; the pain she inflicted on him would vary according to her mood but it was always a given. Ravin spent the majority of his childhood slumped in a corner, wailing after each beating he’d suffer through, and he maintains he never understood what provoked the unmitigated ire of his mother. His father, being an absentee parent, never took notice of his emotional turmoils although he was very well aware that his wife would unleash hell on their defenseless toddler, whose only crime was to be born to people who knew zilch about empathy.
The brutality would escalate in an upward trend, to the point where the only memories Ravin has of his childhood are replete with heartache and isolation. But he’d internalized one particularly gruesome memory that he was intent on forgetting for the sake of his psyche. After almost 15 years, he conjured up the memory to share it with the world because he realizes his silence is only abetting the psychopaths who think they can get away with anything with impunity. And in his case, the psychopath is none other than his own mother.
Their relationship had been fraught with animosity since the very beginning for the reasons cited above, but one particular bout of crazed brutality would mark Ravin for life. He was only 8 when his mother barged into his room under the influence of alcohol or drugs and proceeded to rape him. After she’d robbed him of his innocence, she pummeled him mercilessly until he fell asleep. It happened 4 times according to Ravin and these memories are only now resurfacing to bolster his quest for justice. All these years, he shared a roof with the woman who’d stolen his childhood and dehumanized him because he had no outlet; the shame of what he’d been through was impinging on his will for a better life.
But he realized since then that he couldn’t let a psychopath revel in his self-imposed tacit suffering and he revealed the full extent of the abuse to his father. The latter was quick to dismiss his claims on the grounds that it would bring shame to their family to out his criminally-inclined mother. Ravin was aghast at his father’s apathy but he was only following the lead of so many Mauritians before him, who’d rather preserve their deceptive appearances than address their problems in a productive manner. Ravin’s father is very epitome of the image conscious Mauritian, whose infatuation with honor overrides basic humanity.
Mauritian society has yet to deal with these taboo subjects because they’re antithetical to the image we’re trying to project. It’s unnerving to juxtapose such a pristine environment with primitive, carnal behavior and yet there’s no other way that we can go about it. We need to have an honest discussion about the care set in place for people like Ravin, without the debilitating victim-shaming that is so redolent of our culture. The only people who ought to feel shame are the ones who commit the crime and we hope that Ravin’s mother faces the wrath of our judicial system.