I told you Uncle touched me, somewhere he shouldn’t have. Or rather, Mommy told you. You and I, we don’t speak openly of such things. But for all the rigidity around sexuality, there was no shock that Uncle would do such a thing, Or that he would dare to come after me!! I thought I was your precious daughter. The apple of your eye. I thought I was supposed to be loved unconditionally. At the very least by my parents.
Why didn’t you run screaming? Why wasn’t your fury palpable? Where is the expected drama that this uncle would dare foray in this sacred terrain and towards your one and only? Or is that not the right response? Was it your own guilt that kept your lips sealed? Lest when your own inappropriateness leaked to the public, people crucify you likewise?
There was death on your lips that day. In the silence of the words that remained unsaid. In all the actions untaken, and in the wrong that was reinforced to continue. I’ve seen you rise to more anger on nuisances such a lost pens or hearing us having too much fun on a Saturday. Yet on this issue you remained mute.
I told you my boyfriend hit me. He hit me and chased me while I ran around the house like a chicken. I gave you the graphic details because you should know. So your actions can be based on the palpable threat.
You seemed uncomfortable and looked the other way. As though my pain was too much for you to bear. Or was I somehow too shameful to be looked at? Another tragic statistic, this time too close to home? Why do you look away in shame? Am I no longer your little girl? No longer sweet and pliable to prevent your discomfort? Have I lost my innocence because I dare voice my needs?
Why were you silent? Why were you not boiling? Have I now become a ‘woman’ as you men see us? Nagging and insatiable? So much so that any complaint by us is taken with heapings of salt? One who might deserve to be hit sometimes? With that have I lost my right to speak? Is there no virtue or validity in my complaint? Have I lost my voice? Have you lost yours? Is it because you hit Mommy too? Did your guilt cripple your tongue yet again? You couldn’t even muster the hypocrisy to be angry on my behalf?
There was death on your lips that day. In the words unsaid and the actions not taken. I’ve seen you rise to more anger on B+ report cards, or when I honestly forgot to say “good morning”. Yet on this one you remained mute. Like I had failed you by getting hit. Like I had brought it upon myself. Now I see the cost of silence in the face of injustice. This time, the costs are mine to bear.
Uncle was cheating on his wife and she found out from his phone. Your only response was that they should not be going through each others phones. That was so confusing. Was the cheating now acceptable? How is the discovery now the crime? For years I thought you were different, principled. Are you just like the others? You held us to impossible standards so I was sure you were maintaining them too. I’m so broken in my new vision. I can no longer see you the same.
There was death on your lips that day. In the words unsaid, in the actions implied. I’ve seen you rise to more anger when I accidentally broke a tumbler, or dated a Muslim boy. Yet on this one you remained mute. Now I feel guilt for not seeing it earlier, for making excuses for you in the first place. Something died that day that will never be regained. Death had a feast, and now things will never be the same.