To a 10-year old, the scooter rides after school were most liberating. My mom used to pick me up from school on her yellow Honda moped. I used to hold on tight to her and close my eyes, feel the air rushing through my hair, and feel like I was on top of the world. Aside from that, these silent scooter rides were the only instances I would have with my mother. These 15-minute rides to and from school were the happiest moments in my day.

My parents had always been busy. They were the typical Indian parents. "Live for the children" has always been their motto in life. They believed I would be the happiest if they made money for me. While other kids my age bragged about warm hugs and heartfelt kisses from their parents, I bragged about how my parents were too busy being amazing employees.

Things were never good between my parents. There were nights when my parents would scream and yell at each other. They'd throw dishes at each other and fight like cats, unaware that their daughter could hear them through the extremely thin walls of our home. We never had a family photo. For my elocution contest at school, I had to bring along 4 pictures of my family and me and describe our family to the entire class. While other children bought their perfect family photos, I sat there embarrassed with 3 single photos taped together to form a family photo. I had wished the earth would split in two and swallow me up to evade the pity my teacher directed at me. Basically, I was just a sad 4th grader with an extremely dysfunctional family.

My only solace in my dysfunctional life was my best friend, Advait. He was a chubby boy with dimples that would magically appear whenever his facial muscles made an effort to work. He had the typical mushroom cut that he would always get bullied for along with his weight. We both shared that mushroom cut which made us look like twins. Our friendship bloomed when we both sneaked up to the corporation dustbin to dump our food on opposite sides. Accidently, we both bumped into each other while walking back to school and one look at each other's faces confirmed the mischief we had done. Since then, we had been inseparable. We sat together on the same bench, we ate together and we were always paired together for every group activity. Advait's house was in the same street as ours and soon our mothers befriended each other.

Every time my parents had to work late, I would be instructed to go to Advait's house and stay there until my mom would pick me back on her way home. Advait had an elder brother, Arjun. Arjun was the typical male chauvinist pig. He didn't think girls could do anything and he was extremely smug about being a "man". He was short-tempered and hated anyone coming within a 5 feet radius of him. He called us pests and would always tell on Advait. Arjun never listened to what his mother told him unless she raised her voice and threatened to take away his phone. Advait and I knew going near Arjun would always land us in trouble so we kept to ourselves and remained in the confines of his room.

One fine day, Advait decided he wanted to learn the Violin. Soon he was enrolled in Violin classes after school and soon I had to stay at Advait's house feeling like an alien to escape my parents' quarrels. I would wait for hours to play with Advait only to find him tired after returning from Violin classes. Advait's mother, unlike mine, was an amazing cook. She cooked and baked traditional Indian dishes and other delicacies for me and always reminded me of how I was her own daughter. The 10-year old in me hated the idea of being Advait's sister. I had huge plans for marrying him in an amusement park at 22 and having cute children with him.

On that fateful Thursday evening when I could no longer bear the noisy teenage quarrel my parents were having, I ran to Advait's house and rang the bell. Since I knew where the house key was hidden, I let myself in and called out for Advait and Aunty, only to find there was no one home. Being the curious 10-year old I was, I wandered up to the first floor and saw smoke coming out of Arjun's room. Without thinking twice, I turned the knob and let myself into the darkness and whispered a "Hello?" when suddenly, Arjun yelled loudly "What the fuck are you doing in my room you gnarly little pest?"

"I'm sorry Arjun anna"

"Sorry won't work, you pest. Come here right now"

My little heart could sense something was wrong and I started to run out of the dark room, down the stair when I tripped on the railing and fell on the landing while scraping my knee. Arjun, like a monster, walked slowly to me. His eyes were red and droopy. He looked like he hadn't slept or showered in weeks. He smiled at me menacingly and said: "Since you came into my room without permission, and you ran away without my permission, you are going to get punished you pest." He dragged me by the hair up the stairs and into the room and threw me on the bed. I was shocked and numb. He unzipped his pants while tearing my clothes at the same time. He inserted himself into me as he covered my mouth to muffle my helpless screams. It was the most severe pain I had ever felt. As much as I tried to fight back, he fought back and assaulted me twice as hard. My little body could take it no more and I stopped trying. I was too young to understand what he did to me but mature enough to know that it was something to be ashamed of.

Once he was done, he looked at me and told me to never utter a word about this incident to anyone. "If I hear one word of this from anyone anywhere in the world, I will rape you till you die and this time, I won't even try to not hurt you." That warning was enough to keep my mouth shut. I limped back home and rang the bell. I silently let myself in when I heard my parents were arguing more than usual. When my mother came to call me for dinner, she saw my scraped knees.

"How'd you get that, Kanna?"

"I fell, Amma"

Thank you for Reading!

About the Author

Ms. Arya Nair, a contributor at Studio Coffee House, is an undergraduate Architecture student at Marian College of Architecture Trivandrum (2019-2024 Batch). She is a self-taught writer and the founder of the Instagram page "Tales of an Indian Pen". A complete extrovert who finds absolute joy in music, reading, food, binge-watching shows, and cooking. She is someone who finds it easy to interact with people and makes friends easily. She is an ardent animal lover and has been actively participating in the Blue Cross Campaign.

Instagram: @aryanair._ @talesofanindianpen

Story Edited by Sejal Samuel.

The Content of this article (Short Story) is copyrighted to Arya Nair (Author).

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