Have you seen my new pink jacket? The glossy one with tassels that baba jaan gave me? It has stains of mucus and blood and patches of dirt and dried tears from yesterday. But I know that I can wash it all away. It’s my favorite jacket and I want it back. Baba jaan says that I look like a Barbie doll while wearing it but to make sure to wear it with matching pink clip. You can have it if you want, it is lying beneath the heaps of dirt where the men with the candy came.

A few months back Uncle came to our place. Our house was filled with aroma of traditional ‘Kasuri Methi and Fish’ that day and I recall that Ami Jaan was very angry at me because I lost the keys of her cupboard as she had to pay the delivery boy who brought uncle’s favorite fish. She was furious because in a few days she’d be gone for Umrah and I was learning to be on my best behavior and become responsible. That day, she taught me how to find lost things. She asked me to sit down and to think about all the stuff that happened before the keys were lost, so I recalled.

And now, just like how I found my Ama Jaan’s keys, I will find my pink jacket.

I cannot see the time yet, but I knew that it was past my playtime when I put back the room’s cushions. We were playing ‘ghar ghar’. I don’t have cushions where I am now but I can see everything and everyone from here. I can see the blue skies and the green grounds and chacha jaan’s horses too! And the best part is that I am allowed to play without khala jaan calling me to read my daily lesson. Am I not the luckiest girl?

That day, I put on my yellow rainbow shirt because it goes so well with my pink jacket. Api Jee clipped my hair back with one of her black ponies but when I went out of the corridor, I threw away the pony and parted my hair with my pink clip. I could not wait to come back and set the cushions back again.

The street was empty and the way to khala jaan’s house was short. I skipped and hopped, holding my suparas. When I turned towards the next street, I saw a huge man standing, leaning against the wall Abu jaan had built. He smiled at me so I smiled back.

What’s your name?

Zainab! But everyone calls me Zainu.

Zainab , laikin apka naam tou pari hona chhaiye tha.

I grinned.

Do you want any candy, pari?

I don’t.

My friend has a lot of candies.

Bhaiya jaan always said that he had candies when he wanted me to fetch him water but he never gave me any.

Let me take you to my friend.

I am getting late. Khaala jaan gussa karein gi.

Apko Dairy Milk pasand hai? Bari wali?

I did like Dairy Milk but I shook my head.

Mujhe nahin pasand!

He grasped my hand and looked at me with his huge, raven black eyes. He was a huge man with terribly huge eyes and his grip was very tight. I did want to break free and I think I tried but I was little and he was big and my legs followed his to the end of the street.

What happened after that is a blur. I could feel the cold bricks rubbing against my body and all I could think about was the scolding I’d get if khala jaan knew I had missed my lesson. It hurt. It hurt more than anything had ever hurt. Even more than the time when bhayiya jaan had pushed me off the stairs and I had scraped my knee,  even more than when Sara borrowed my doll and refused to give it back.

I remember screaming, I remember being hit but most of all, I remember staying still like my barbie on the shelf, very still.

I remember the man’s beard, longer than his face, covered in my sweat and his.

I remember that the blood in my mouth tasted like sweets uncle gave me when Ami Jaan served him fish the other day.

I remember the man asking me if I was in pain, I remember tried to nod. I remember him saying that he’ll put an end to it.

I remember flying to the clouds, leaving my bruised body behind. I remember seeing angels and the biggest room to play in.

I remember a little bit of everything. But I don’t remember what happened to my pink jacket.