Malati was first sexual abused by her grandfather inside their muddy hut at Chautara, Gokarna in the outskirts of the capital, even before she turned five.
The grandfather would put his hand inside her private parts to begin with, and soon lured her into sexual intercourse by buying toffees for her.
She soon developed sexually transmitted diseases, and her genital organ continues to itch.
The child is still oblivious what her own grandfather has actually done to her.
The six-year-old victim with her mother. The picture has been silhouetted to protect their identities.(Shreejana Shrestha/Republica)
Malati, who was sitting on the lap of her mother (Maina) when this reporter approached their place, also doesn´t know how many times her paternal grandfather raped her.
When this reporter asked how often her grandfather treated her like that, she only smiled.
After a little insistence she finally answered timidly, “Grandfather used to take off my clothes and then give me money, sometimes Rs 2 and sometimes Rs 5.”
Malati then stopped talking and started pulling her mother´s hair and cheeks, teasingly.
It was only on September 6 the abuse was finally exposed when Malati´s elder sister came to know the reality.
Maina had gone for work as usual and when she returned home, she couldn´t believe her eyes at what she saw there. Malati´s undergarments were stained with blood.
“Mother I saw Malati and grandfather naked when I went inside the room,” the mother quoted her elder daughter as saying. Later, they called the police and got the old man arrested.
As Maina is the sole breadwinner of the family she would leave both her daughters under the care of her father-in-law.
She had always thought the old man was truly caring and fond of his granddaughters. Now, however, she feels devastated.
She is yet to come to terms with this harrowing development, and very concerned about her daughter´s future.
Providing justice to her daughter is the overarching aim of Maina at this point.
But at the same time, Maina is wary of talking about the case with others because of the fear of social ostracisation.
She fears that her daughter´s future would be ruined if society comes to know about what happened to her.
“Ours is a patriarchal society and I know my daughter will have to face social disgrace if they know happened to her,” said Maina, adding, “I just want to see my father-in-law behind the bars because he is a culprit, and — that´s it.”
Following the tragedy, and also because their hut is on the verge of collapse, Maina and her daughters have recently moved to a rented place nearby.
Maina´s husband had gone to Qatar for foreign employment ten years ago, and when he came back he married another woman, leaving Maina to take care of the family — emotionally and financially.
“I have to educate my daughters at any cost even though I don´t have a proper place to live and no permanent job,” she sighed.
After wrapping up conversation with this reporter, Maina took off red ribbon from Malati´s messy braid and prepared her for bath at her neighbor´s house.
Malati seemed more than happy to have a bubble bath in lukewarm water.
(Names of the child and the mother have been changed for the obvious reason.)