Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Howrah Station April 1988

I knew what he did was wrong.

The air was a vacuum of damp sticky heat, heavy hot breaths and persistent sweat with the large exasperated sighs of the heaving steam trains releasing even more hot air into the Kolkata skies. I saw you had your eyes on Dad as he confidently marched forwards holding my sister's hand, trying to part the crowds so we could follow through. Losing sight of them in this muddle of noise and confusion would have been terrifying. A cacophony of chaos, men and railway children.

You gripped my hand tighter as we approached the platform as the crowds got thicker, denser and closer.

It happened so quickly. In an overheated haze it felt wrong and I didn't like it. I didn't know which one of the million anonymous faces the innocence-stealing hand belonged to but now, twenty two years later, I clearly remember its hard, inappropriate grip.

I looked up at you when I wanted to cry. But I knew telling you would hurt you so much more than it had hurt me. I would rather be eternally haunted by the stranger in the crowd and for you to never know it happened. I should have been shielded with you by my side and Dad and sister in front of me. I should have been as safe as I was when I was in your womb.

But he still managed to touch me, Mum.

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