Innocence

Innocence is such a fragile thing, such a vulnerable one. Innocence can be taken in so many ways, so many subtly evil ways that are not even noticed.

I was thinking about innocence today. How silently it leaves. How faintly it slips away, leaving nothing that reminds you of it but a scar. And I am reminded of the time that I, in one of the most brutal ways possible, lost some of my innocence.

***

I am 12 years old again and I am innocent. As I walk down the narrow market alley with my sister, Mariam, we laugh over a joke.

As I shift the bag of groceries from one hand to another, a large man came up in front of us. Barely paying attention to him, I continue to talk to my sister, and we laugh again. In the narrow alley, my sister squeezes ahead of me and past the man. I follow her; barely aware of what was going to happen.

As I brush past him, I feel a large, thick hand land on the back of my thigh and move up.

Up and around.

I feel so violated.

The next minute he is past me and I am past him. He turns around, and the very look in his eyes, the triumphant look that says, “I have felt you up and you can do nothing”, freezes me. I am beyond shocked. I am teetering on the edge of a precipice, I am on the most delicate of balances. One wrong move, one wrong word, and I think my bones will shatter. Shatter into a million pieces, and finish it all.

“Hurry up, Dad just called on my mobile.” My sister’s eyes look into mine and the warmth in them fights back the cold in me. “Hey, are you okay?”

“I’m fine. Just spaced out.”

Why do I sound so normal? Why isn’t there a difference in me? Why don’t I protest? Why don’t I scream for justice? Why don’t I scream for God to descend from the heavens and deliver justice?

Because I, too, have seamlessly, soundlessly, become just another body, just another piece of alluring flesh, just another girl to be felt up, to be touched and to be handled at will.

No, I am not Marina Ahmad any longer. No, I am not her. I am not even a person. I do not know what I am.

At night, I lock myself into the bathroom and take a long bath. And wash and wash and wash. Scrub myself over and over and over again. Trying to get rid of that feeling of filthiness, that feeling of repulsiveness that emanates from me. Trying to make sure it does not become a part of me.

And as I wash, I cry. I cry for myself and my lost innocence. I cry for the fact that those who conform suffer, and those who do not conform also suffer. I cry because against this, there is no saviour. I cry for all those females out there who have been abused like me, and worse than me. And I cry, for all that I have lost, and for all that those other women have lost.

I cry.


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