The walls of our house on the estate were thin. Growing up there meant regularly waking up in the dark, hearing Anni (my sister-in law) muffling her cries through the floorboards above me. As the crying went on, you would walk down the stairs and out the front door. You would not come back till the sun rose. I would always wonder where you had disappeared to. As you passed my bed I would look at your face. Study it to seek any sign of guilt. Though the shadows, acting as a façade, worked in your favour, I had no doubt that none of this appeared wrong to you.
Mother never talked about it. At least not to me. Neither did our brothers or sister, but there was no denying that they could hear it too. I remember one night after you walked out, our sister walked past me up the stairs, a metal bowl in her hand filled with oil. As I followed, she pushed me out of the room where Anni lay next to the bed curled into a foetus. She looked sore even in the dark, but what was vivid was what Acca (our older sister) said to her, for her comfort. ‘It’s okay Anni. Amma (our mother) said that it would hurt. That’s okay though. The more you suffer the more beautiful those babies will come out. Don’t think Anna (you, older brother) is a bad man. He’s good. He will look after you. With your beauty and pain my niece and nephew will be the most beautiful babies on this planet.’
To her surprise, my sister never had a niece or nephew. Our brother found Anni in the same foetus position I saw her in that night. Except her wrists were slit and her blood was drained along with the colour in her body. I had never seen a brown person so pale before, so blue before.
Part of me felt sorry for you, for your stupidity. You never understood why Anni decided to call quits on her life. I reckon she decided to call quits on your abuse. You got away with it anyway. Your so-called ‘fun-loving and kind’ nature vouched for you. Our entire family vouched for you. I never understood that.
I really wanted to talk to the police. The morning I brought it up at the table you pushed me down to the kitchen floor, whilst our father picked up a hot pan that had just boiled some tea in it. Our mother was screaming but was scared to come too close, for fear you may have killed me. The scar from where the hot tea trickled and scored into my back, reminds me, thirteen years on, of my short-sighted decision to not talk. Even now I think my young and naïve self was much better than the decision I made that day.
Now you are gone, leaving behind those who would lie for you, I wonder how you walk in the world around you today. I wonder how the world treats you back. I wonder if you know the difference between right and wrong, lust and pain, sex and rape. I just can’t help but wonder if you’re a safer man.
From your Thangachi (younger sister)