I WAS 11, AND THEN 22.
I was 11 years old. My father’s good friend, Ray, came over. I was sipping water outside my house and reading a book. I wore a gray tank top. Ray–I called him Uncle–stood in front of me and his shadow covered my entire body. He asked where my father was, and I said I didn’t know. He started small talk. Then he said something about my shirt, and pulled the right strap down. I pulled it back up. I looked up defiantly. I didn’t say anything. Then he left. That night, I told my father about Ray and what he did. He asked me all these things, shuffling about, walking to-and-fro, but there’s only one question I remember: why, ang anak ko, was I wearing that kind of shirt?
I was 21 years old. After I left for college, I no longer had a room in my father’s house. I slept on the white couch in the living room during the weekends. My Uncle Danny, my father’s brother–his real brother, not just a friend–lived in the garage. I was close to my uncle’s son. He was like a brother to me, still is. I was asleep. I woke up to muffling noises. I saw my Uncle Danny’s pants down and his hand on his penis. I turned away, pulled my knees to my chest, not knowing what to do. I cried. My uncle shuffled away without saying anything. I had realized, during my sleep, my shirt had slipped and exposed one of my breast. I have no idea whether it was him who pulled it down or whether I tossed and turned in my sleep. I didn’t tell anyone until I told my husband, when I was 22. I told my father when I was 24. My father shrugged, pulled at his ears, his white face reddening: I don’t know why he would do something like that. I just don’t, I’m sorry, I just–why, anak, why didn’t you tell me?