Her grandson found her battered on the ground, her sari burning near the fireplace. They didn’t call the cops, they had a family prestige to maintain. And after all, she didn’t sign on the property papers. It was her fault.
Her late night shift turned into a nightmare he held her hand in his cabin, pulling her towards him. She was required to give him special services he said, to prove she was motivated to get the promotion. Only the desperate are determined, and desperate she was. It was her fault.
Her husband went to work early, and she got up to make him his morning tea. With a bruised eye, she searched for his belt, the one he hit her with the night before. She helped him tie the tie every day as he choked her every night. She did tend to make mistakes, she reminded herself. It was her fault.
Her bag failed to shield her against the stranger that preyed on her fear. She froze with the terror and humiliation, as he looked into her dove eyes. She looked beautiful with the eye liner, he said. It was her fault.
Her boyfriend got her drunk and stole her virginity with his friends, capturing those moments in the phone that was her gift. He tossed her contraception pills the next morning, and the next, and the next. She wanted it, he said. It was her fault.
Her teacher traced her legs as she traced a graph, whispering things that made her skin cringe. He showed her books she wasn’t suppose to study, but he said it was their secret. That to him, she was like the women in the books. She was pretty. It was her fault.
Her best friend forced her on her knees and unzipped his pants. He pulled her hair and grabbed her face while he told her to shut up, and shut up she did. Boys and girls don’t ever meet to just study, he said, she just pretended to be naive. It was her fault.
Her uncle walked into the washroom and told her he was helping her get clean, since her mother was busy with relatives at the festive home. He promised her fireworks, but told her to not tell anyone, because then her mother would have to work more and she should be a good child and not trouble her child. She felt wrong, but she didn’t know what was wrong. It was her fault.
The little girl was found bleeding in her crib, diaper off. She didn’t survive. It was her fault.
It was her fault.