“After coming back to Mumbai, I began therapy and I’m still healing”

TW: rape & suicide “I was raped when I was 5 by a family friend, but I didn’t tell anyone… I was afraid. From there, everything spiralled. A year later, my mother passed away in a car accident. Dad took me on his lap and said, ‘Mom passed away’. He paused and repeated, ‘She died’. I buried my head in his chest– I couldn’t believe that she was no more. Even at her funeral, I didn’t shed a tear.

Soon after, Dad moved back to Hong Kong to set up a new business and I went to Bangkok to live with my chacha-chachi. When I met Dad after a year, he introduced me to a lady and asked, ‘Can she be your new mom?’ I shook my head, but he didn’t take me seriously. Within a month, dad remarried and Dad, my stepmom, step brother, brother and I began living together.

But soon, stepmom and dad started having fights. I felt neglected; I was abused– physically and mentally. My brother was too young to understand, but it drained me. I’d cry all day; I stopped socialising. Physically and financially, Dad was there…but not emotionally

When I turned 12, I moved to Jaipur to stay with Nana-Nani. I felt safe with them but because I was alone, suppressed feelings from the past started resurfacing. After 6 years I began mourning my mother.

School was hard. I’d have constant flashbacks about my mother’s death and trauma that I endured after. I attempted to self-harm– I’d scratch my hand with a glass, starve for weeks; that was my way of mourning her. Nani was there, but I didn’t feel like sharing anything with anybody.

After graduation, I moved to Bombay for work. I stayed alone and adopted a dog, Bella– in her, I found the family I always wanted. Whenever I was upset, she’d put herself on my lap and roll over to make me feel warm.

That summer, when I went to Hong Kong, Dad and I had a fight. He lost his temper and said, ‘When I die, you’ll regret not listening to me’

I couldn’t bear it and impulsively took 5 sleeping pills. As I was about to pop another, Bella’s face flashed in my mind– ‘What will happen to her if I die?’ I stopped and admitted myself to a hospital. That moment, I made a decision– I wanted to help those who’ve experienced neglect and trauma, especially from their parents.

After coming back to Mumbai, I began therapy. I’m still healing– my relationship with Dad is still the same but I’ve learnt to let it go. A year ago, I started Moonlight Foundation– we’ve connected over 100 trauma survivors to therapists. Seeing them open up, has made me realize that you can never escape your past by hoping for a better future– the past needs to be acknowledged and processed. That’s the only way to truly be free of it.”

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