by Ananya Sahoo

‘Bilateral IV’ by Scheherezade Junejo

TW: Sexual Abuse

I. 
I don’t check under the bed anymore. 
Did you know evil looked human,
And ate dinner at your table? 
One hand on the cutlery, another on my frill clad thigh,
Is this why kin rhymes with sin? 
‘Blood relation’ is terrifyingly literal. 

II. 
Don’t you know, sweet child? 
You’re my favorite niece.
One lollipop for a secret. 
Little fingers trembled as they clutched
A bundle of candy wrappers.
Swallowing candy was getting harder by the day. 
My first sugar crash–
Remember, sweet child:
Bribes are costly.

III. 
“You’re the apple of my eye,” 
And proceeded to take a bite,
Savoring each one with smiles and reassurances. 
“You’re safe here.” 
Shh, good girls don’t make a sound,
Close your eyes.

IV. 

So I closed my eyes.
Swallowed my protests along with the candy. 
Gathered the wrappers like silent testimony. 

But today, I trapped decades worth of rage,
In a big porcelain bottle, 
And displayed it loudly on the mantelpiece. 
Did I remember? 

To scrub away the ‘me’ from ‘memories’
Three steps forward, two steps back, 
One step forward. One step forward on
Cracked but resilient feet.
Scarred wrists wrapped
Around my bottle of rage,
Tendrils of fire flirting with the glass.

Ananya Sahoo is a 25-year-old change management analyst from India. When she’s not busy being a corporate slave, she enjoys writing, slam poetry, reading, and playing the piano. She worked as a Director of Outreach for a national level student-run NGO which aimed at educating the youth about taboo issues like sexual abuse, mental health, etc. She has always been passionate about writing and pens down her thoughts in her personal blog.

Scheherezade Junejo was born in 1986 in Karachi. She graduated from the National College of Arts, Lahore, in January 2010 with a BFA (Honours) degree. Scheherezade has produced seven solo exhibits and participated in over 70 group exhibits, both national and international since June 2010. You can read her interview with The Missing Slate for our Spotlight Series here.

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