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I am seven years old and unsightly: overflowing cheeks and burnt skin from being made to swim everyday. Dad wants me to be a boy. He makes me dress like one, act like one, eat like one and live like one. I am stout and silent from abuse, obedient yet frustrated. I participate in outdoor activities I do not care about.

This is the world I live in.

Dresses and cute things are not for me. They are wrong and I will get scolded for liking them.

“You are ugly,” Mother tells me. “You will never amount to anything.”

I want to go out and play. My mother hits me for wanting this.

She calls me a brat, a perverted girl who will one day grow up to be a whore. She kicks me in the ribs and stomps on my back when I tell her I cannot find my Nintendo.

My dad hits me on my thigh. He just got home from work. He enters the bathroom where I am and hit me after I said something that made him angry. Hot tears fall down my cheeks, and I feel pathetic and dirty. I sit on the toilet half naked.

It is morning and the house maid is braiding my hair. I am clean and content and fat. I am eating a packet of Oreos. Some of the crumbs get on my shirt. I try to wipe them off but my fingers are dirty.

The black crumbs get smudged on the cotton.

My mother catches me. She stalks towards me and screams, “You fucking pig. You filthy dirty brat. What are you doing?”

I meet her eyes. My mother snatches the packet of Oreos out of my hand and slaps me hard across the face. She hits me again on my arm, and again on my thigh. She drags me out of the chair and throws me onto the floor. She brings out a long wooden ruler and sits down on the sofa in front of me.

“Get up, you wretch,” she says and prods me with the ruler.

I get up.

“Strip,” she says.

I cry and take off my clothes. I am standing in front of the house. The door is open and the neighbours are watching.

“Why did you wipe the crumbs on your shirt?” she says.

“It was dirty so I tried to clean it,” I say.

“You brat! Of course it’s dirty. You wiped your filthy hands on it! I am not giving you clothes again. I will make you stay naked, you fat fuck.”

I sob. I am fat and ugly and naked. I want to die.

“I was wiping my shirt because it was dirty,” I cry.

My mother smacks the ruler on the tiles, and I jump at the sound. My skin crawls.

“Why did you wipe it on your shirt?” she says.

I fumble for words and choke. My mother isn’t listening. No matter how many times I try to explain, she doesn’t want to hear the truth. I cry harder and louder because I cannot reason with someone whose only goal is to humiliate her own daughter. I am ugly and hated. I am standing in front of the house naked, and my mother makes sure I know that I am disgusting.

I am seven years old, and I want to die.

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