Later that evening you can still feel his eyes undressing you with the repulsive clarity of memories you don't want to have.
* * *
You can remember the first time a man brushed up against your barely existent breasts when you were nine years old shopping for clothes and you began to tear up and you couldn't understand why the world was sharp edged and shaped like a dagger.
You can remember , years later , a boy begging you to kiss him and you fled ,your mother couldn't understand why you were running and you couldn't explain, the dagger was slipping in between your ribs.
Six years after that , the neighbour you added on Facebook sent you a picture of his genitalia , your hands were trembling as you frantically deleted the email and clicked the browser shut and you were praying for forgiveness and you couldn't understand the burning in your throat or the tears threatening your sanity yet again. You were fifteen years old and the only person you could tell was your seventeen year old best friend.
Your anger fails to find its place in the world and you break out in rage and fits and your family cannot understand. You shrug out of your uncle's innocent hugs, you turn away from brothers, cousins.
Your father left you alone once , just one time in a mall, and a lecherous snake chose to brush the back of his hand against the curve of your ass, and up until then you thought your behind was undesirable and yet somehow you didn't want to find out this way that it was.
In your first year of college , you were stalked unrelentingly and pressurised into conversations and meetings you didn't want to have. Blocking calls made him force your friends to relay messages to you. Your friends didn't understand , just like your mother didn't.
Fifteen years on from the first encounter, you can feel someone at the local hangout undressing you with their eyes, their gaze ravaging your spine , the sweat on your skin, eating the words coming out of your mouth , smiling at the ache between your ribs and you yearn for the drapes of your burka, the comfort of your niqab.
Your friends cannot understand why you cover.
You cannot understand why they don't.
How they withstand the catcalls, the jeers, the taunts, the whistling, the stares. You lower your gaze in the market place. You try to not laugh so loudly, or talk so passionately. You begin to resent the sway of your hips and the curve of your now desirable (so you've learnt) ass. You're secretly grateful your bra size has never gone up in five years. You clutch your shawl around your shoulders anyway. Your friends don't understand why you detest tight clothes and never wear jeans. Why you shrink away from your male classmates or wince when a professor accidentally touches you. Why you remember the boy in the basketball shorts, the guy in the mall that tried to sell you see through bikinis while gesturing obscenely at your chest,why you skip hangouts and remain in a forever closeted girls only circle. This long gone, you cannot forget.