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I didn’t go to school today. My uncle says I am happy being home. Father, too, thinks I am happy. But I am sad and mother knows it. I didn’t tell her. She looks at me and smiles a little bit and then looks at my face as if looking for something.  She knows I don’t cry in the day, in public; but when I go to bed, she gently rubs the tears off my eyes. She says everything will be alright, she repeats each night. And I feel better when she says this- I feel warm sunlight on my face and mother’s shadow dipping into this sunlight, and then I fall asleep.

I didn’t go to school because I am not feeling well. When people talk loudly and laugh even louder, I feel scared. My heart palpitates. My palms become sweaty. I feel these people are laughing at me. I know they are not, but I can’t help it. Doctor Uncle says I will grow up as a strong girl. I know I will. But I can’t stay alone if mother isn’t around. I keep a watch on her these days; I feel secured. Last week mother sneaked out to the tailor, while I was in the garden, and I fainted. I was immediately taken to the doctor. Doctor Uncle is nice. He always puts my hand in my mother’s hand; he knows it is my treatment. If they allow me to be around my mother, I think, I shall be fine.

Some of my friends from school had come to visit me. I got lots of chocolates. I ate one and kept the rest in my book desk. I will eat them when I get fine. Mother tried to tell me they will melt; that she will keep them in the fridge. I know they will melt! But the fridge is downstairs in the kitchen, away from me. I feel somebody will steal them from there. That is why I have kept the chocolates here in my desk. Mother was nice to allow me to keep them here; she said I should take care not to spoil my books. I love my mother and I will make sure not to spoil my books, but I know the chocolates will melt soon.

When my school friends were in the room, around me, I kept silent as father spoke, smiling half-heartedly to them all. I looked at mother. I see answers in her face. Her face assured me that father won’t tell them the real reason of my illness. I was relieved. He told my friends I have stomach infection. Instantly, one of my friend complained saying few days back I ate at a pedestrian shop outside our school. She is right I did. We all did. She too did. But my stomach is fine. I have some other ailment.

I know I will be fine. It is just that I only want my mother around. Not even my father. I like him. He adores me, and even cries when I am not feeling well. He says I am the light of his eyes. But I don’t like the image of men these days. I want only me and my mother to be in the house. Only women! I wish I could tell my father to go away for some days. When he will come back, and I would have become fine, I will run up to him and hug him. But the image of men makes me sweat. My heart palpitates. When they talk loud, I shudder.

Nowadays, whenever I sit I cover my legs with a blanket, tugging its loose ends with my tightly folded toes. Sometimes my toes hurt after keeping such a stiff posture for a long time. I make sure, as I cover my legs with the blanket, there is no little opening. If there is, I quickly muffle it up. I fear through these little pores in the blanket, an evil snake might creep in.

You know, the creepy sensation between my legs makes me dizzy. That day, in the crowded bus full of chattering men, where I was the only girl- a small girl coming back from school, a hand kept groping at me.

These days if my mother is not around, I see the hand; its fingers moving up and down, crawling on the walls, digging into the flower pots, cutting into sofas, tearing away page by page all my books, all my home-work.

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