About to burst forth from his mouth
A cry got muffled in his throat
Someone had put a massive hand on his mouth
He could only breathe through his clogged nose.
Eleven years old, he felt helpless
His hands were tied with a handkerchief
His mouth was stuffed with a towel
He had been turned on his belly
A big burly man was raddling him
Pulling his pajamas down
When it got entangled, he tore it off his feet.
Pitch dark it was all around
Enveloped in dead silence
Was the annex ted outhouse where he slept
In the open courtyard on a rough cot.
He could now smell the man on top of him.
It was his cousin, ten years his senior.
He suddenly knew that the sky had burst open
The earth had countless leprosy patches
A five-minute time span had put
A life-long festering wound in his heart.
The man on top of h m untied the handkerchief
Took out the stuffing from his mouth
Patted him on the back … and then
The ghoulish shadow just slipped out of the yard
And melted in the dark.
He struggled to get up now that he was free
The white cotton mat spread under him
Had a round patch in the middle
And his sinless mind had another splotch
Oozing out pus … white, leprosy-like
Isn’t this the child on whose soft body frame
Today many of my generations stand in Pakistan.