His fingers inched closer and closer to the underwire of my sports bra and rested, just a thumb shy from the lower part of my breasts. Cold sweat lined my forehead, post a five-hour badminton training day.
I was numb. The touch felt unpleasant, revolting. I had kissed my boyfriend before and cozied up to him – but where that touch soothed me, this one felt like a menacing hammer.
He didn’t stop when he touched the wire...he went further up, pushing up my t-shirt. He had his hands under my shirt and he circled them around my arms… tightening his grip as I pushed back in the form of back crunches.
No, he did not touch my breasts. No, he did not try unhooking my bra. So, what even happened, you ask? His touch felt terrifying, it made me want to scream in horror.
I thought he would move away eventually and let me find my voice behind the terror of my tongue.
But he did not.
This time, he moved his hands away from below my shirt – only to place them on my bare back. He rubbed my back and said (13 years later, his words still ring loudly in my ears) – “Arey, so cold – your back is so cold”.
I shiver every time I remember. His words feel like a second layer of skin.
He kept his hands firmly around my waist and asked me to continue with my crunches. He had been my badminton coach since I was 10 years old. I did not stop. I could not stop. I followed his instructions to the T then, just as I had been doing since I was 10.
How could he be wrong? He was my teacher, a second family. I remember completing one whole set of 15 reps – his hands still around my waist – when suddenly, we heard someone entering and those hands sprang free. I turned my head to see a friend who played badminton with me walk in and say – “You have some dedication working out when no one is around”.
Surprised, I turned around and found that my coach had disappeared.
He was gone. Just like that. I never saw him again. That day. The next. Ever again.
He was gone, leaving behind a terrible memory – the significance of which I could grasp only years later.
It took me a while to realise that I had been sexually molested, touched inappropriately when I was 17 years old. I’ve never spoken about it until this moment because I wanted to escape the memory of it all. Does it haunt me still? Does it make my skin recoil?
Trust and betrayal often play a bittersweet game of chess inside me, one checkmating the other at different times.
I trusted him and he betrayed me.
But I knew him.
(Reshmi has been a financial research associate for five years. She is also a traveller by heart, a fashionista by choice and a writer by love.)