Malaysia

Location

Regular girls played hopscotch and dress up

They pretended to be grown up.

Except for me.

I had to be grown up. I was not pretending.

 

Left to fend for myself every night

I had to support the family somehow

“Go,” my mother would say. And

Having no escape, I would humbly obey

Then get in the car.

 

Dirty alleyways

Itchy beards and squeezing hands

Street corner rendezvous

Terrible men

Rapists, criminals, degenerates

If they had the money

Coughed up the dough

Then what would it matter?

 

How I longed to be like the other girls.

Every night, my mother coated me in perfume.

Smeary lipstick and tight clothes.

“Pretty,” She would smile her crooked tobacco stained smile.

When the men at the tea shop joke about having their way with me

My father denies having a daughter.

 

Men would come in and have their way

Each one worse than the last.

 

Reaching and grabbing

“Easy little girl,” They’d laugh.

Perempuan murahan.”

Undressing me

Sweaty palms scraped along my mango skin

And then

They’d go in for the kill

Inside, I am numb.

Only a repository for strange men

Nothing.

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