I looked across the sea of heads as the priest performed the last rites.The scene was sombre, It seemed to me that the entire town was at the graveyard to pay their last respects. I saw my parents dressed in black and looking sad as the rain poured down in sheets.
I had come to find out if he was really dead, to see his body and to make sure that he was buried. I prayed that the nightmares would go away. I had wrestled with them for many months and I wanted them to end. I wanted to feel whole again. I wanted to be my old self, a carefree school student who was worried about just the grades and dating.
I remember the day it all started. My family was devout Catholic and the church was an important part of out daily life. Father Gregory, the priest of our parish church was a guest at our house many times. He was almost like a part of our family. I had been baptised by him and was also a choir boy at the church. He had been the priest for many years and many families in our neighbourhood including mine, went to him for guidance.
It was Sunday and after the mass, Father Gregory asked me to come in his office. He said he wanted to talk to me. As I went in his office he asked me to shut the door and lock it. He invited me to sit in the chair opposite his desk. He enquired about my school and choir practice. Then he got up and came behind my chair and started rubbing my shoulders. He said "Peter, you are a very gifted singer, I think you are a very special boy". As his hands moved to my chest, I started squirming in my seat. He said "Don't worry son, this is us just being friends, this is all right".
After some time he said I could go and I left feeling as if I had done something wrong. I could not understand if what had happened was wrong and if I should speak to someone about it. I was ashamed of myself. I knew no one would believe me so I decided to keep quiet. This started happening every week and it made me feel confused. I was scared to share this with anyone. He came to our house regularly and behaved very normally with me in front of everyone. He was the same loving man of god as before.
One day, Father Gregory called me to his house and said he wanted to talk about some bible classes. I was filled with fear but I could not refuse or my parents would have been angry. I went to his house, he offered me some freshly baked biscuits and hot cocoa. While I was sipping hot cocoa he excused himself and went upstairs. He called out and said "Peter could you come up for a moment". As I hesitantly went upstairs I saw him undressing. He caught me by my hand just as I was ready to run down the stairs. He ran his fingers through my hair and asked me to lay on the bed. After that I was in complete shock and I blanked out. I only remember running out of the house sobbing and with blood on my hands. I was scared and feeling dirty about myself.
I ran to the stream near my house to wash away the blood from my hands. I sat down on a stone and sobbed till I had no more tears left. Suddenly I noticed that it was getting dark and I had no option but to go home. I washed my face and headed towards home. I reached home and saw my father hurriedly entering the house with my mother standing in the doorway with a grim face. She told me Father Gregory had just died in the hospital. He was stabbed nineteen times and it was suspected that it was a case of robbery gone bad. A parishioner had gone to his house when Father Gregory had failed to appear for evening mass and had found him in a pool of blood. They had rushed him to the hospital but he died on the way.
I could not breathe after I heard this. I went to the bathroom and scrubbed my hands till they were raw. I looked at myself in the mirror as I tried to recall what had happened. I could not remember anything not even stabbing him.
I will never be the same boy ever again.
P.S: This is a work of fiction. I wrote this story after I saw a documentary 'Sex crimes and the Vatican' by BBC. A horrific account of many victims of child molestation at the hands of Catholic priests. The Catholic church is reeling under the onslaught of such scandals. You can read more about it here. This is not an attempt to malign any religion or faith. Please read this as a fictional piece.
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