The Many Hands on My Body


The Many Hands on My Body

Illustration: Akshita Monga


here was this bus we took to school. My brother would stand with all the “big people” though he wasn’t really big. We were just 14 months apart. But me, well I was little, really little, so someone would invariably let me squeeze in.

That day as the bus kept jostling through the bustling city, a pair of huge male hands picked me up and placed me on his lap. I tried to look back with thankful eyes but couldn’t turn around much, thanks to the big school bag riding on my back. Such a sweet uncle, I thought, as I looked at the rest of the kids still swaying miserably in the bus. I began to feel a tad superior to be chosen from among all the other kids… but then suddenly I started feeling uneasy. Something was bothering me. The hands had started to touch me in a “bad” way. I wasn’t old enough to be sure why the touch was bad, but instinctively I felt icky. The hands tried to hold me still, one arm around my neck, gripping my shoulder and the other one on my upper thighs. Somehow I wriggled out of the grip and ran to stand next to my brother. I would like to believe that I did not look back. But I think I did, just enough to get a glimpse of an ugly grin. Just a grin. No eyes, no nose, no face. Just a grin. That was the last day I sat on someone’s lap.