So she hits me on the soles of my feet.
Tonight when Mumtaz comes and unlocks the door, she sees
there is no part of me unmarked by her strap.
"Now will you agree to be with men?"
I shake my head.
And so she says that she will starve me until I submit.
What she does not realize is that I already know hunger.
I know how your stomach gnaws on itself searching for
something to fill it.
I know how your insides keep moving, unwilling to believe
I also know how to swallow your spit and pretend that it is
How to close your nose to the scent of another family's
And how to tie your waistcloth so tight that, at least for a
few hours, you can fool your belly into thinking it's full.
Mumtaz, with her doughy waist and fat mango face,
doesn't know the match she's met in me.
WHAT I DON'T DO
I don't pay attention to cries of the peanut vendor under my
I don't let myself smell the onions frying in the kitchen
or pay heed to the chatter of the girls as they head past my
door to the midday meal.
I don't listen for the footsteps of the street boy who brings
afternoon tea in a wire caddy.
I don't permit myself to smell the aroma of the bowl of curried
rice that Mumtaz passes under my nose, or take notice of the
churning of my stomach.
Even in my sleep, I don't allow myself to dream of even a
AFTER FIVE DAYS
After five days of no food and water I don't even dream.
Excerpted from Sold by Patricia McCormick, pages 105-111. Copyright (c) 2006, Patricia McCormick. Reproduces with permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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