Just As…
By Anonymous

June 29 2008

Just as the details of the best moments in your life stay with you always, cruelly the
minute details of your worst experiences remain etched in your memory forever too. No
matter how much you may push them into a dark corner of your mind, they do make themselves known, haunting you in your weak moments.

"Baba, when's mama getting back?"
"In an hour..."
"Okay...Baba, how long are we going to stay here?"
"Always the impatient…” my dad smiled. "Beta, it's just 5 days more and then we are on our plane back to Pakistan. I missed it, didn't you?"
"Uh huh…" I grunted; my eyes glued to the TV screen not particularly sharing in my dad’s enthusiasm in reminiscing about his beloved homeland. Just as I gave up any hope of finding anything decent to watch, flicking the remote onto the couch my Uncle walked in.
"I see someone isn't in the best of moods," my uncle commented, observing my slumped figure on the couch.
"She just misses her friends," my dad said gently.
"And your cable sucks," I quipped.
My uncle gave a short laugh. "Yes, well after your cousins left for university there really wasn’t any point left for it. But hey kiddo, there's a stack of your cousins’ movie collection in our room if you want. Go and check it out."
My mood brightened considerably and I hurried over to the other room with my dad calling behind me, "I have an errand to run, I'll be back in half an hour.”

* * * * *

"See anything you like?"
I looked up from the DVDs' scattered on the floor in front of me and saw my uncle standing in the doorway. "Well, I've already seen all of these." Shrugging, I got up and started leaving the room but my uncle reached out an arm and slung it over my shoulder, forcing me to turn around. "I have some more in the cabinet. I'll show you." Handing out a couple of handful, he draped his arm over my shoulder again as I examined the DVDs’. Slowly, I became aware of his intense gaze on my face and his hand rubbing my arm, which suddenly did not feel so affectionate.
"Thanks, but seen these too," I lied, forcing a smile and tired to move out of his grasp. He held his grasp tightly and forced me into a hug with his one arm. "You've grown so big… MashAllah. And you look very pretty." Ever so casually, his hand moved below my shoulder and I felt a chill run up my spine.
The four walls of the room started to close up on me and I became aware that the only light in the room was that which was emanating from the TV screen. For about 10 seconds, I was in a daze. He hugged me tight, his both hands moving freely until something inside me snapped. It's like when a plane is about to crash and it goes into Autopilot. At once I was all too aware that he and I were all alone in the house and who knows when my father was going to get back. At once I was all too aware that the only reason he had picked me to harass was because he thought I was an innocent little kid who had no idea about what was happening. And at once I was all too aware that since he clearly had the upper hand in this situation, my pushing him away or screaming would do me no good. So I hugged him back, playing out the naive little character he took me for and then shyly moved away. I looked into his eyes, and the look in his eyes which can be described as nothing but raw hunger scared me out of my wits.
"I want to get a glass of water," I said, in a voice that I hoped did not reveal that I was trembling inside and confirmed to him that I had no clue of what he had just done. I walked out of the room and as soon as I was out of his eye's burning scrutiny, ran as fast as I could into the bathroom and locked myself there. Dropping myself on the cold, hard floor I started panting. My heart was beating audibly but I dared not cry. I rinsed my face, hoping the splash of cool water would wake me up from this nightmare. I opened the tap in the shower to give him the idea that I was taking a bath and sat on the floor, still shaking and trying to calm myself.
After what was probably 15 minutes my mothers voice rang out and I almost burst into tears with relief. Rushing out of the bathroom, I was ready to throw my arms around my mother and pour my heart out when I saw her sitting in the kitchen with my uncle. As I slowly approached them my uncle turned to me. "I was just about to leave and pick up something from the grocery store. Why don't you come along? It'll be fun." I had a brief image of being alone in the elevator with him and grabbed the table for support.
"No. I'm tired, I think I’m just going to go to sleep," I managed to say.

* * * *

I locked the door behind me and sat down on the sofa, next to my mother. Briefly, I wondered exactly how to explain what I wanted to say. When I couldn't decide on anything, I plunged right in. My mother remained the perfect listener, the picture of her horrified face still crystal clear in my mind. When I was done she hugged me tight and told me to lie down.
While I lay under the covers, next to my little brother who was snoring loudly, I could hear my mother talking urgently on the phone with my dad. Eventually I fell asleep waiting for my dad to show up and woke up when I heard the bed move beside me.


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