Country of Origin: China
and when she told her mother of the “incident”
she was told never to speak of it again.
Silence served as protection. It served
as a convenient denial and an acceptability
of these dirty men are everywhere.
Hers was a sack of body odour she never bothered to
turn around and see, even as he pressed himself
against the back of her thigh, even as she felt him grow
against her, even as she tried to make space in a crowded
local bus filled with people; I was too scared to say something she said.
Hers, lived with them, cared for them,
cooked and cleaned for them, and some nights
he took to servicing himself instead.
I don’t like it when my parents go out at night, the eight-year-old would say,
still feeling his hands in places they should never have been.
Hers happened at markets, in shops, out walking
ignoring a whistle or two, a snide remark till
courage would find his feet, and he would
encroach upon the space she called her own.
I wish I didn’t have boobs; she cried to her friends.
Hers was a doctor, an uncle, the neighbour’s son
home for the holidays with nothing much to do.
The delivery man, her math tutor, the building lift man,
the driver, the electrician her family had used for over
fifteen years, the family priest and that first boy she liked in school.
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