Talking away the trauma

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By CHANDRIMA S. BHATTACHARYA in Mumbai
  • Published 27.06.05
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Mumbai, June 27: When a 12-year-old boy opens the door of his house in the morning to find his mother tottering outside, barely conscious, and comes to know that she has been drugged and raped by four men, the trauma begins for him, too.

When he becomes a bestselling writer, he decides to talk about the crime which his mother could never speak about in public and which destroyed her. Talking about it is all he wants to do, because he doesn’t want justice, which will be “pointless now”, or revenge, which he doesn’t “believe in”.

Ashok Banker, author of a series on the Ramayana, says his next book to be published by Penguin, called Beautiful Ugly, will be about his mother, well-known socialite and model of the seventies Sheila Ray D-Souza, who died an alcoholic in 1990 at the age of 44.

The book, the third part of an autobiographical trilogy, will be about what she went through after being raped by four men at a party.

It is the story of a strong-willed, beautiful, free-spirited creature who got branded as a “loose woman”. “But that is exactly what she was not. She was too strong for it. That’s why I have to tell the story,” says Banker.

He will also make a film on the subject ? in which a person called Ashok Banker, to be played by actor Rajat Kapoor, is shooting a film on his mother’s life. “While writing, I realised that I needed to show her,” says Banker.

The film shoot will begin next month. Other actors in the low-budget movie are being cast.

It is also the story of the ugliness that lurks beneath the surface of the world of beautiful people ? something that holds as good today.

Banker says the names of the perpetrators are not important. “My foster-father, my mother’s second husband, character actor Sudheer, was away on a shoot. My mother, who belonged to what is now called Page Three, had gone to a party at Usha Kiran Building on Carmichael Road.

“In the early hours, she was drugged heavily and dragged to a room by one person. Three other men joined him, including a photographer, who took pictures of the act. The host did not know about it,” says Banker.

“She was dumped in front of our building, Venus Apartment in Worli, in the morning. The drug held her down for some more days, but she knew what had happened to her. It became worse when the photographer started to call her husband, threatening to make the photographs public.

“I must admit my foster-father was very brave. He refused to bow down before the photographer,” he says.

But something shattered within his mother’s mind, forever. She was troubled before, too, over an affair with Mahesh Bhatt, who was a struggling actor then, a little while before this incident, but this led to her breakdown.

“What added to her trauma was the treatment we got from our relatives and friends. Since the incident, which everyone knew off ? the watchman had carried her to the door of our house after she was dumped from the car ? my mother and I became social lepers.

“We were shunned till the day she died. None of her husbands turned up at her funeral, attended by only three persons. She was a raving lunatic when she died,” he says.

“Everyone treated her as a sick person. Of course she was sick. But she was sick because of what had happened to her.

“What makes me angrier still is the fact that no one took the matter up. Not one adult family member approached the police. It was as if she deserved what she got. Something she brought on herself. It left her and me with the guilt and shame that should have borne by those men. But they went scot-free,” says Banker.

Some of them are dead now, he says, and there are no famous names among the perpetrators.