I cannot forget, but for years I could not say it or write it. I need to break that barrier.
Ghosh was a distinguished pediatrician, who lived next door to us and attended to me when I had a problem. Father thought well of him, and he was a fixture at our parties, more as a friend than as a professional. He was always attentive to me and extremely friendly and affectionate.
As I came into his office, he said that I might as well have my periodic examination since I was in the examination room anyway. He took down my height, weight and temperature, measured my blood pressure and asked me to take off my shirt. He examined my neck, then my chest and back, and asked me to cough a number of times. This was a familiar procedure.
Then he went a step further. He asked me to take off my trousers. When I did so, he wanted me to remove my underwear too. I began to get uncomfortable.
He knew of my active participation in sports and said, “People who play hockey and soccer and tennis sometimes develop problems in their private parts. That’s why it is safe to have those parts examined carefully from time to time.”
If that reassured me for the moment, the feeling changed as his long manipulation of the parts made me increasingly uneasy. The unease rose several notches when he added, “Let me show you how the normal parts look,” and started taking off his trousers.
He wanted me to hold and feel the “normal,” but I had quickly snatched my trousers, donned them and was off on a run.
The worse was yet to come. When I reached home, both my parents were there and one look at me told them that I was distraught. Hard as it was to do so, I told them of the “careful” examination, and they promptly called a friend, a senior police officer.
“I wish I could say I would arrest that man immediately and put him in jail, where he belongs. I can only detain him for a few hours, in the name of interrogation, but then he will certainly have to be let go. He will hire a good lawyer or two – he can afford several – and in a court it will be his word against your son’s. No judge will be comfortable convicting a well-known doctor on the word of a small kid, since there is no witness and no evidence of an incriminatory kind.”
He then told my mother, “I know you are outraged, as I am too, for I have a boy of the same age. But if you love your son, you will not send him to a court only to be grilled mercilessly and humiliated without any redress. I hate to say this, but you all have to forget this incident as best as you can.”
My mother asked, “If you can’t prosecute him, can’t you at least record this incident, so that in future if he molests other children this charge could count against him?”
The police officer replied, “No, I can’t. If I record this incident, it will be held against me if I don’t investigate it. If I investigate it, the doctor can sue for damages, and my superiors will hold that against me. Without evidence to prove the charge, I can do little.”
I heard him, just as my parents did, but it was not easy to accept that nothing, absolutely nothing, could be done about the misdeed of an evil man.
I wonder how many children’s lives the pediatrician proceeded to wreck.