Tom* terrorized my teenage years. He was a family friend. One very respected and loved by the family at large. He had a print shop where I learned to type using a typewriter. I even manned his shop once in a while until he got a girlfriend. He was so trusted by my family that he was the custodian of our house key which was shared amongst my siblings and I. He was short and with a pity me look, always!
At first, I thought that I was crazy and that I was making it up. But I wasn’t. Then I thought that it was my fault, I was provocative. But if you saw me in my teenage years, there was nothing close to provocative in the way I dressed. Then I simply decided that I would try to stay as far away from him as possible. But he came to us.
You see, he had a chronic illness and since my mom worked at the national hospital, she would kindly pick up the prescriptions medicine for him. This meant that he had to come to our house to pick the meds after he closed his shop at around 8pm. We knew his timing and if my mother was not at home when the bell rang, my heart would sink immediately. Our house had a shared main gate and a long dark corridor leading to our house. When you opened the gate, he would reach out almost instinctively for the boobs. At first, I thought that it was because he was night blind. But then it happened over and over again despite my effort to hide behind the gate when I opened. Despite eventually having some light on the corridor.
I later found out that my sister had the same experience with Mr. Tom, he was a little touchy with her as well. We eventually devised a way of first checking who it was before heading out to the long dreary corridor. As soon as the bell rang, we would peep through our parent’s bedroom window and if it was him, we would send my brother to open the gate for him instead.
Mr. Tom died, a while later and I remember feeling a sense of relief. Everyone around us was sad because he was such a “nice man” but I was almost ecstatic of his demise. Glad that my youngest sister would never have to survive him.
For some reason, I couldn’t shake off this memory today so I wrote it hoping that it will leave me in peace.
To parents, you might not be aware that some of your friends make your children uncomfortable. Make sure to create a safe space for your children to share such experiences honestly.
*Not his the real name.