Once Upon A Time in My Future

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I skitter around the crowd, pushing my way into the north of the corridor.

“Noi!” I call out, trying to pique my daughter’s attention as I watch her chatter with her friends, flaunting the new art piece.

“Noi! I’m here.”

Noticing me, she runs towards me, excited.

“Mom, look!” She says brandishing the canvas. “Look what I drew today! It’s the alley by our house!”

The grey cobblestone, the thin mellow tree, the dazzling crescent – I recognize all of them as my eyes washes over the canvas, awed.

“This is absolutely magic!” I squeal to mirror my daughter’s enthusiasm.

….

I turn left on the road, rain slamming on the windshield as Noi traces abstract patterns on the glass. Slightly sodden, we skitter into the house; Noi snuggling Tamo lovingly.

“Quick to bath,” I command.

“Just a minute, ma.”

I rummage through the scattered mess Boi made in the morning; shuffling the books into the rack, pencils into the holder, and scrap papers into the bin. Outside, a thunder crevices the sky open–the balcony a blinding white.

The alley glows with reverence, the mellow tree synchronizing with the rythmn of the clouds, the moon today a pallid shade.

This happens rarely, but it happens. And today, this moment of one of those times. Abruptly inexplicably, I am pulled back to an old memory. A memory I wished I forget as it reeks and taints my vision.

Yellow dress. Silver Bell phone. Nani napping. The monster in the last room. A pallid moon.

“Tamu! Come here, boy!”

I heave a deep breath, my chest tightening. Turning around, I find Noi tucking Tamo into his Momo cosplay attire. His face juxtaposes that of Noi.

“Ah. There you go. You are my flying lemur.” A chorus of giggle tickling.

“Aren’t you the cutest. Mom?”

“Ah. Um. Yes. Absolutely.” I return.

This moment. I live for this. Noi. Happy and safe.

“Time for dinner!”

….

After dinner, as per schedule, I find myself immersed in work. Sipping from my mug, I skim the papers on my table. Noi, tugged in the bed, snoring soundly. Moments like this, I can’t help but ponder on how quickly time went by. The tiny whimpering creature blooming into this boisterous being. And how much I adored her laughter as much I ached from her sobs. How much I loved and wanted to protect her. I glance down at the papers. 20 years. It’s been 20 years since the Anti-Rape Refom Law has been passed. 20 years since the assault rate dropped to the lowest. 20 since I’ve tirelessly worked with other advocates and activists to do this. 15 years since we saw change. And 10 years since I hoped my child would see a different world. Live in a safer world. Her world untainted by my own. A realm long haunted by monsters.

Serenity.

The wind whistles around the chimes, teasing them. Drizzle popping into the window and far away, the Moon glows bright, shielded by the mellow leaves. And our my small room, my daughter snorts a breath, a smile curling in her lips.

Wordsmith: Sinthia Ahammed

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