by Nida Sahar
You were in a pink frock and you were four
you were at a party, playing with your cousins,
you kissed your uncle on his cheek
and your obedient ponytails hid behind the kanjivaram pallu
of your mother,
to not feel his sweaty, sharp facial hair on your tiny soft lips.
The ponytails soon hid your young chest
and you, the little pimple- faced girl, hunched
and shied away from talking with other adolescent boys
but the uncle wanted his sweet and sour kisses at home –
wanted you to press his feet alone
wanted you to give a light head massage
wanted you to sleep on his legs apart
wanted you to watch your favourite
Aladdin and duck tales, in his bedroom, alone.
You were mesmerised and you giggled at Disney
while he moved his middle-aged fingers
on your freshly grown bulging skin
around your tiny nipples
and felt the depression
around your baby belly
and felt the hips
that were still hiding in your petite skeleton
and vibrated his mobile phone
on the bone between your small thighs
and placed his gigantic mouth
on your bonsai lips.
You didn’t know what this newly-acquired feeling was
to have even told your best friend over phone
or at school.
Maybe your blunt rich convent conversations had made you playful
or maybe the silky straight fringe accentuated the fair dimple on your left cheek
or maybe the early signs of estrogen engaged attraction.
You thought you were special because
no other cousin or your sister even, ever got this treatment.
You fuelled years with the arrangement
of innocent ignorance till your skin, hair and neck stank
like overgrown garbage.
You begged yourself to separate the dirt and throw out the shit
and avoided the very route that led to
hearing or seeing or smelling the testosterone of that man.
You refilled your dust bin with crates of gulab jamoon, jalebi and ice creams
and aimed to be ignored like an ugly duckling.
You promised to bury the burden of this crime that you had committed,
(You thought you had committed a crime) −
bury in your weeping, insomniac teenage brain
because your mother, if she had known −
your mother would have broken her 25-karat gold bangles on your forehead,
you thought little kids should listen to brothers of mothers and not complain
you thought kids didn’t know any better.
You hid behind simple interest, quadratic equations and congruency theorems
you refused to wear bangles and flowers,
you refused to wear the new red zardosi ghagra for Eid,
you refused to attend any event that has a fifth-degree connection or lesser to your uncle,
and then refused to attend any event at all.
You confided to a cable television set – and it responded
with hours of stories to cover your entire lifetime
but you stayed awake,
every single night,
and secretly conversed with the pink heart pillow on your bed.
You stayed awake,
and you secretly signalled to the still, starry sky gazing at you
and discussed through hours,
In long conversations,
exploring options −
trying to mark the coordinates of the Never Neverland.