It was hot. It was hotter than the milk my mommy gave me every evening. My big brother used to play matchstick game, and my mother scolded saying the fire was dangerous, it’ll burn the skin. So, why did this uncle not know it? He poured petrol on me and lighted a match stick. I remembered my father scolding saying it was dangerous. The uncle threw the hot stick on me. The fire started spreading all over my dress. My favourite pink gown was slowly becoming black. I started crying. I wanted to tell the uncle to stop, but I couldn’t speak. He had gagged mouth and tied my hands and legs. I couldn’t move. The fire started running all over me. It touched my skin, and I winced. I looked at the uncle with pleading eyes; he just saw me for a moment and ran away. I closed my eyes as the unbearable pain started building in my body, the girl parts the uncle touched were already in bad pain, but this was too much. My mommy’s beatings were never this painful. I wanted to tell my mommy that I would be a good girl. I wanted my daddy to come take me out from the fire. A foul smell started filling my nose. I couldn’t bear it. I closed my eyes shut.
Suddenly it felt good. I felt like I was floating around. I could still see the fire, but I could see other images. I could see my mommy packing lunch for me, I could see daddy searching for his socks, and I could see my brother hiding daddy’s socks. Mommy can always find where my brother hides the socks. I could see my birthday celebrations in the big hotel and the blue Barbie my friend Rithika gifted me. I was playing with that evening. Suddenly the evening came to my view. I watched it all happen right in front of me once more.
I was playing with my Barbie in the portico, wearing my favourite pink gown. My mommy was making my sandwich in the kitchen. I saw a shadow and looked up. It was the uncle on the third floor. He was a friendly uncle who sometimes moved like he was dancing. He smelt terrible. He smiled at me, and I smiled back.
“Want to play with me?” he asked after looking at me for a long time.
“No Uncle! I’ll play all by myself” I said to him smiling
“Come on, kid! Let’s play!” he leered
I panicked and opened my mouth to call my mommy. He jumped on me suddenly closed my mouth with his one hand and carried me with the other. He ran up the staircase, unlocked his door, threw me on the floor and closed the door behind him. He scooped me up again, and I screamed. He closed my mouth with his hand and pinched me hard. He carried me to the other room and took a smelly handkerchief from his pant pocket. He thrust it in my mouth. I tried to spit it out, but he threw me on the bed and quickly tied a cloth around my mouth. I tried to control my tears as my breathing became suffocated. He pulled my wrists together and tied it close with a rope. He did the same with my ankles. I was petrified; I couldn’t move.
For two hours, the man paced to and fro while I watched him with fear. Downstairs I could hear my mommy and daddy shouting out my name. I wanted to call back to my mommy asking her to come up, but I couldn’t do it. He hurried his pace. I could hear my brother and Sarala Aunty shout my name. After some time somebody knocked at the door. The uncle threw a blanket on me and went to answer the door. I could hear Sarala Aunty talking to him, asking about me, I slid a little and reached the corner of the bed, but the uncle shut the door and came back in.
“What do you think you’re doing?” he asked in a scary tone.
“I raised my pinky finger and showed him” my eyes pleading. The uncle was so scary that I wanted to pee.
“Come!” he carried me to the bathroom and put me on the toilet seat. I looked down at my tied up hands and looked back at him.
“Oh, what the fuck” he muttered and reached up throw my skirt. I panicked and started struggling. He was going to touch my girl part. It was a bad touch. I shook my head vigorously. He smiled then. He smiled a cruel that was scarier than the other things that he had done. I cried as he carried me back to the bed. He lifted me into a sitting position and removed my gown. He tore my teddy bear panties and stared at me.
“Oh, my!” he smacked his lips and smiled.
He pushed me down and bit me hard everywhere he could reach. He touched and tasted all the places my mommy had said as wrong in the “bad touch” game. Finally, he removed his clothes and cut down the rope that bound my ankles. I tried to kick him down, but he slapped me hard across my face. I broke down with fear. But the pain across my face was numbed by the terrible pain that suddenly spiked up in my girl part and my stomach. I could see the uncle doing something, and the pain kept coming every time he came closer, suddenly he went down and started putting his mouth in my girl part, I fought hard not to pee as my mother had said not pee on the bed and it was bad manners. But I couldn’t stop myself as the uncle kept licking there. I kicked my legs as the salty pale liquid started flowing and the uncle once again moved up and kept pushing. The pain started building to agony, and soon everything blacked out.
I woke up wishing it was all a nightmare, but the pain between my legs told me a different. The bed was wet and smelly with urine, blood. My body had something white and sticky like glue all over me. I wanted to throw up. The uncle was dressed up, and he looked at me with shock when I woke up.
“So, you’re not dead!” he murmured as he came near me. He smelt awful.
I kicked him with my leg, and the action made him furious. He grabbed my neck and started squeezing hard. I struggled for my breath trying to move my hands. He tightened his grip, and suddenly everything became dark.
I saw it all as I floated about, but I didn’t feel a thing. I saw that my body was completely burnt and lay there as a terrible mess. I felt wise; maybe it was a thing. I could see the stars clearly, and an angel with white wings that looked like my mommy opened her hands wide open to receive me.
“It is like going to bed” she whispered gently.
“I am supposed to pray before I go to bed” I smiled back
“Yes, dear!” she smiled kindly. “Say your prayers!”
“Dear God!” I whispered “Please don’t let this happen to any of the girls,” I said.
“Or any of the boys!” I finished and walked on.