It was long summer evening, the sun was ruling the world and heat was testing temperaments. Streets were silent and abandoned. Azam’s family was done with lunch and there was no ritual of taking nap after lunch in his family, as it is in most of Asian families. Family members were gathered in the courtyard of small sunny and airy house, chattering and discussing about what to have for tea time.
As there were summer vacations so Aliza was at her maternal grandparents’ home, place that she loved to visit any time and summer vacations were the best, as during these long holidays of three months she could stay there for as many days as she wanted to.
Aliza loved each and every corner of their house, the sunny courtyard from where the rays of sun greeted her good morning, clean roof with a room where she could do different experiments , could hide her belongings that she don’t want to be seen by others. She loved the tap on backside of roof that saved her from going down to take water whenever she got thirsty while playing.
The balcony was her favorite spot in the whole house, where she used to stand and greet passersby on the street all day, calling the neighbors asking if they are fine and telling them that she is here.
She was really fond of that little kitchen that got lit with the sunlight in the morning and from where a moon could be sighted in the night.Apart from that this is the place where she used to spend maximum time with her grandmother. While her grandmother used to wash dishes there, Aliza used to stay with her talking to her and helping her in placing the washed dishes.
All of family members decided to have some biscuits with tea for tea time. But biscuits were not there and someone has to bring them from market. As no male family member was at home so Aliza’s aunt asked her to go and bring some biscuits from nearby shop.
Aliza’s aunt Gul was young educated woman; she was an average heighted tan woman with long black hair reaching her calf, which Aliza always adored. She was a school teacher.The shop was previously owned by an old, noble and trustworthy resident of the street. Due to some financial crisis they recently sold shop to a person who wasn’t resident of that area. He was quite a strange person who used to show unusual affection towards children, used to call them inside the counter for any dealing and pat them usually on their butts. Aliza took the money from her aunt and stepped down.
Aliza an eight year old fair, chubby girl, with average height and small eyes that looks even smaller because of her plumpy face. She has short black hair as most of the Asian girls do have. Her physique was quite heavier than normal children especially her chest was more prominent than girls of her age, and for covering them she started wearing dupatta at really an early age when most of the children even don’t know how and why should they wear an extra piece of cloth other than shirt and trouser called “Dupatta” to cover their specific body parts.
So setting her dupatta and struggling to keep it in a proper manner, she left the house and started moving towards the shop, whirling her pink fairy frock, giggling, mumbling her favorite poem, careless of that mysterious berg wind, thinking about snacks she would buy and about alternatives if she couldn’t get specific one’s, street was quiet and deserted, there was hardly a vehicle on the road she kept moving, crossed road and reached the shop. She entered in; there were no customers, only she and the shopkeeper.
Rizwan the shopkeeper was tall, tan, thin man with light beard on his face, having pale yellow teeth with suspicious grin always on his face with glasses on his eyes. Aliza started looking around; candies and their glittery wrappers were bringing shine to her eyes, lolly pops in the colorful packing arranged in the shop were just looking like rainbow on the horizon, and the thing that froze her eyes, ice cream freezer. That warm long day, what a child could long more than an ice pop.
Rizwan was noticing the shine in her eyes; the happiness on her face, when she spotted the ice-cream freezer, his grin was getting more mysterious. He then called her and asked what she wanted; she turned quickly towards him, confusingly started telling about the biscuits she wanted. He then called her to come inside the counter and point the biscuits she wanted, acted like he was not getting what she was saying, first she hesitated but then she entered in the counter and started pointing towards the biscuits she wanted. He moved closer to her back, his lust to touch her was growing, to clinch flower not bloomed yet, to scratch her, to tear her apart, to satisfy his lust, never ending hunger of a pedophile. Aliza, the innocent soul, unaware of all his heinous intentions, was again telling him about biscuits she wanted, placed on the highest rack; he buried his hand on Aliza’s shoulder as an excuse to reach that pack, actually amusing desperate wild animal inside him by the tenderness and softness of her body.
That unusual and forced nudge really frightened her; she suddenly became uneasy and was in hurry to leave the shop. Rizwan noticed her restlessness, handed over biscuits to her and said “O little doll! You first time visited my shop, I have a gift for you, an ice pop in a new flavor, would you like to get one?” , Aliza resisted him first and said ; “No give me my change, I am getting late” , he then hold her arm gently and took her to the freezer and ask about the flavor she wanted, that wolf, he played the right card at right time, she got mesmerized by the ice-creams once again and he took the advantage of the moment, he slowly moved his hand from her arm towards her chest and then he pinched her breasts so hardly that she screamed, she started crying and struggling to get rid of him, that ravenous predator, but his lust, his hunger was saying something else, those screams and cries were soothing that beast, he mercilessly kept pinching her and she was continuously screaming. Suddenly he heard footsteps of someone comingtowards his shop, he suddenly leave Aliza and went back to the counter.
As that person entered he she saw little girl running out from the shop. Aliza was running wildly, tears in her eyes were making her sightless, she was crossing the road blindly, not listening loud horns, and ignoring scolding sentences of drivers for her, only sound that was echoing in her mind was “O little doll….”, she was just running, running from that beast, running towards her heaven, the house she once loved most in the world. When she reached street some neighbors were out on the street, they saw her crying, for the very first time they saw tears in the eyes of that nightingale, that little fairy, who never cried before not even for a toy or a candy, but her tears were not stopping at that moment. Some of the neighbors called her, asked her if she is fine? But she didn’t answer anyone, she ran into that shelter, that refugee from every question. She was holding pack of those biscuits still in her hand, crushed into pieces by the pressure of her fear and grief. She rushed upstairs, dropped that pack in the courtyard, ran towards roof and locked herself in the room there.
The Room that once was place for her to celebrate her little successes, place where she used to hide her little pleasures, space where she used to enjoy her solitude. Now that same room proved to be a consoling mother, those walls took her in them like mother’s arm. She was screaming, crying out of fear, pain, humilation.Gul left kitchen calling” Aliza!, Aliza! where are you beta(child)?what happened?”, looking around she suddenly found pack of biscuits dropped near roof stairs, she got it, she quickly stepped up, heard Aliza’s cries and screams, got so worried, moved swiftly towards the room and start knocking door asking “what happened beta(child)?, open the door bachay(child), Listen!, why are you crying? Are you ok beta (child)?.
Aliza in her pain and grief was almost deaf to all other voices; only thing she could hear were her own screams and cries. She was getting mad, unable to understand how to express that grief, how to get rid of that humiliation, she then saw clay pots she herself made, bottle caps of different colors she collected, little stones and the most precious collection, ice-cream sticks. She broke the pots into pieces, threw away those bottle caps and little stones and broke those ice-cream sticks she broke each and every stick with her hand so wildly that those wooden sticks injured her little hands and they started bleeding.
Gul was continuously knocking outside.Her shoulder, her arm, her breasts were burning out of that pain, that humiliation. She hated herself, each and every fiber of her body. She was continuously blaming herself for all that happened, cursing herself that why she stopped for ice-cream. She was deeply ashamed for an uncommitted sin, she was ashamed for being victimized, for being touched somewhere on her body that neither her mother nor her father ever touched. Unaware of heinous reality behind that touch, she was thinking herself a bad girl, bad daughter, and bad sister.
And than there was a moment when she decided to carry guilt of an uncommitted sin and to live with it quietly, as she was considering herself the culprit.She than calmed herself down, wipe her tears, unbolt the door and let aunt Gul into room. Aunt Gul tightly took Aliza into her arms, kissed her face, her forehead and asked her that what happened, she first remained quiet but when Gul insisted, she said, what she had already thought in her mind, a false story of a slip on road, so she told the same to her and showed her bloody hands, that got injured while breaking ice-cream sticks, Gul insisted a little bit and asked Aliza that if she is sure that it was a slip that disturbed this she angrily answered yes and said please leave her alone for some time.
So Gul left room telling her to come down and have tea with the family, but Aliza didn’t reply That night Aliza neither had tea nor dinner, she was burning from fever, she was continuously mumbling and sometimes screaming. All the family members were really worried, they called the doctor, doctor tried to check her temperature but Aliza didn’t let him touch her body, so he asked her to open her mouth and placed thermometer in her mouth and instructed her to hold it with her lips. After a minute or two, doctor took thermometer out of her mouth and check the temperature that was 104 F. Doctor prescribed some syrups and instruct them to give her medicines on time. Aliza’s uncle sees off the doctor and went to market to bring the prescribed medicines.Next morning Aliza woke up really early, the sun rays that used to greet her “Good Morning” were dazzling her eyes, that little kitchen that once was a warm chattering room was looking like a dungeon, roof that’s smoothness always fascinated her seems like falling and room on the roof was echoing with her screams.
Gul came to Aliza and asked “How are you?”, “Fine!” she replied in a low voice. Aliza said in a numb voice; “Gul Khala( aunt) I want to go back home, can you please call Abu (father) to pick me up from here”. Gul was surprised as Aliza never herself longed to go back, it was always her father or mother who forced her to return home. Gul asked: “Aliza beta (daughter) is everything OK? Did anyone hurt you or being rude to you?” , No Khala (aunt) I’m missing Ami (mother), I want to see her and broke into tears, so Gul didn’t insisted much and called Aliza’s father. He came asked about how is she feeling and kissed her on forehead and hugged her tightly and once again Aliza broke into tears and her father “O my brave child! You will be fine soon Insha’Allah”(with Allah’s will). So she was in the car leaving her heaven with heavy heart, with the decision of not visiting her dream place again as it remind her of that nightmare. After that Aliza was a totally changed girl she became more conscious about her body, she started wearing a large shawl or dupatta and wrap around her head and chest. She rarely goes out with her friends for playing, she became a And after that day Aliza hated how she was, she hated her physique, she hated being a girl. She hated ice-creams and never bought them again.