Winter 2011 • Vol. XXXIII No. 1 Nonfiction |

My Uncle, My Brother

There's a yellow wall and a summer game of hide-and-seek. The evening prayer meeting is over, and for twenty minutes, while the uncles talk politics and the aunties hustle to get the potluck dinner on the table, we kids are permitted to run wild. The game ranges all over the two-story house and spills onto the expanse of Rajan Appacha's meticulous lawn. My five-year-old brother and his best friend, Ben, are "it." I'm nine years old and breathless, crouched behind a rhododendron bush against the side of the house. I have grass stains on my salwar pants, a tear in my scarf. I know there will be scoldings later, but for now, I'm thoroughly happy. I've found the best hiding spot there is. I can't see another person anywhere. And then, inexplicably, I can. His hands are hasty and rough when they lift me by the shoulders and press me against the yellow wall. His mustache hurts my face. His tongue, thick and wet, fills up my mouth. His voice is low and breathy before he drops me on

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