- The Seven Thirty-Two Elephant Train
Passi’s uncle had a gentle voice and face, but he did cruel things when no one was watching. He was a cruel man. Passi barely moved his lips when he uttered those words.
Did he beat you? With his fist or a tool? I asked him.
Passi rocked his body back and forth. It was a more subtle form of abuse, he said. Verbal abuse that conveyed a physical form. Malicious acts. Unpleasant contact. For instance, when he was talking to you, he would always pull your upper ear. Like this. Passi pulled the top part of his ear with a thumb and an index finger. His muscles tightened, and the right side of his face flattened out subtly. A kid has a thin neck, so when you pull his ear up like this, his head tilts right away. Then you yell into his ear.
Again! Again! You, little, bastard, you spilled, your food, again! Pick it up, and eat it, before I rip that thing off!
Passi was mimicking someone. My face went cold when I heard that voice. I had never heard Passi speak in such a voice. There was something sticky to the tone. I thought of the time when I had touched a freshly painted wall. I took my palm off the wall, and a thick layer of enamel paint came off with it, like skin. I washed my hands using all kinds of cleansers, but the paint wouldn’t come off completely. I felt as if I were looking at the paint. Passi took his fingers off his ear, and rubbed his flushed ears with his hand.