This was how it felt to unlearn your own life. To be there but never present in your own reality. To walk with a cloud hanging over you never questioning who put it there. This was how it felt to be imprisoned in your thoughts by pain and the unwillingness to forgive. This was how it felt to gaze at the sun never noticing it blinding your eyes. This was what a balloon with no air meant.
She was scared, unwilling to talk about it. The hate had become so palpable she could feel it poisoning her blood. In another world, you could have seen Her blood turn green from all the venom that was slowly sneaking up through Her organs. With every heartbeat, she knew she was sinking deeper and deeper. The poison was too much, and her body could only do so much for her in one lifetime. She had been taught to love yet there was no love given back to her. The world did not owe her anything, after all, survival for the fittest.
She recalls when it happened in tremendous and surreal detail. The memory of the event serves as the only thing she can remember from that period of her life. The air was moist and crisp at the same time. There were no birds in the sky, and the mood was as somber as it could be. She was dressed in plain shorts and was jolly, to say the least. She remembers hiding at the back of the cold washroom. She recalls how safe it felt. How cunning she thought it was, the perfect rabbit hole.
She did not see it coming. Besides, who could have seen it coming? This had always been her hiding spot. No one knew about it until the boy from gate 43 had seen her emerge from its confines a week before. Suddenly a group of boys had rushed into the bathroom also seeking a place to hide. It was called hide and seek for a reason. She could not claim the spot and thus sat there naively waiting for the last call to be announced by the seeker in the game.
The first few minutes of the attack were hazy. She could not understand what was going on. One minute she was in a corner all alone and the next minute someone had pinned her on the floor. She was screaming and crying at the same time. The boys were four in number and the same age group as her thirteen-year-old brother. Someone pulled down her shorts while someone else shoved his fingers down her vagina. The other two stretched out her hands in opposite directions. ” If you want it to feel better, you should hold still,” one of them had blurted out.
Her face lay next to the ground motionless. The rest of the ordeal was felt through the numb body of a six-year-old. She knew no one could have heard her screams. The house she had been hiding in, lay in ruins aloof from the rest of the housing estate having been abandoned by its owner. It was the perfect hiding place. She knew the voice of one of them; the boy from gate number 43. His name was Roy. He was her brother’s friend. She had seen him once or twice at their house. She would not see him after that incidence and would only meet him later in life married with two children.
A broken girl walked home that day. The longest and most shameful walk she had ever had. She felt that everyone knew what had happened. That she had allowed four boys to do “bad manners” with her. She was heartbroken, to say the least. Her mother was home when she got there. She saw the shorts and promptly gave her a beating since she had been instructed not to wear her ‘special’ pair of shorts. She wept through the beating. Each stroke of the cane felt deserved not for the shorts but for the act that she had just been engaged in. She kept mum about it afraid of the vilification that would come from speaking.
How is it then that she was supposed to forget? How was it that she was expected to love others and more so love herself. She’s felt responsible for something she had no control over all her life. Forgiving is a choice, but forgetting is a daily habit requiring practice and grand fetes in the form of patience.