I closed my eyes, hoping the sound of his fists banging against the door would fade away. I inhaled deeply, slowly trying to stabilize my breath, hoping that the lump in my throat would dissolve, but, with every second, his threats to break the door grew louder and more terrifying, more realistic. Forcing me to open my eyes and drag my thoughts back to reality
There I stood, a newly wedded bride, hardly two years in my marital home, with a busted lip that had finally stopped bleeding, a swollen eye that was raw with pain and the pigment around it had slowly started to change into a light velvet. The lingerie I wore that morning was torn by the left strap, exposing my vulnerability. My red puffy eyes stared back at me, empty, lifeless, defeated…scared. I carefully studied my reflection in the full-length mirror, trying to remember when it all started. How I allowed myself to get here. Why didn’t I leave when I still had the chance? How time had flashed by so quickly that the more it did, the harder I fell for this man who swept me off my feet and had me falling, falling, falling . . . into my grave.
I met him during the ripest days of my youth. He was tall, dark, and as dashing as they came. Quiet, respectful, and reserved. I liked that about him. He challenged my extrovert, outspoken and carefree nature. We were the perfect opposites. Talk about ’two peas in a pod. And that’s what attracted me. Little did I know . . .?
The first time he raised his hand at me, it was my fault. Or so I had convinced myself. I raised my voice too high when we were arguing and I provoked him into slapping me to the ground. That’s what I told myself. While on the ground, I raised my hand to my face, trying to neutralize the sting on my cheek. My vision was blurry, so I blinked, releasing the tears swelling in my eyes. And there he was, pacing the floor with his head in his palms, cursing under his breath. He looked miserable, “Look what your big mouth has caused!” he shouted at me. I felt a swell of guilt in my chest, accompanied by a new sensation of what I didn’t want to admit to being fear. That night, I apologized for provoking him, and he forgave me. I went to bed proud, thinking, this was what being a wife was about. Little did I know, I was creating a monster.
With time, the blows kept coming with every argument, with every mistake I made, every glass I broke, every penny I spent without his knowledge, and every time I got home after he did. I no longer understood what it was I kept doing wrong to deserve such punishment. I sought advice from fellow women of my kinship, they told me a wife ought to humble herself always, they said I was a grown woman and had to deal with my marital issues in wisdom and in silence as they did. And so I obeyed. But little did I know . . .
As the usual slaps escalated to beatings, kicks and occasionally, I would take a knuckle to the jaw or face, I quickly ran out of excuses to tell my friends and family when they would ask about all the scars and bruises. This week, I would have fallen down the steps, the next, I banged my face into the door, the following, I probably got hit by a bus and maybe, later on, an airplane crash-landed on me. It was exhausting trying to find a logical excuse to cover up for every new wound. And although the concealers and the foundations and the face powders would cover the bruises visible on my skin, no amount of apologies and humble silence was healing the deep wounds that were left in my heart.
Eventually, I grew tired of being his punching bag. I grew tired of convincing myself that I was simply doing what a good wife ought to do. I grew tired of apologizing for things I wasn’t even supposed to be sorry for. I grew tired of trying to grow a thick skin and endure it all. I grew tired of filling my head with lies about what a wife was supposed to tolerate and that domestic violence was a norm in marriage. I grew tired of my own petty weak nature and the lies I would tell my peers that I had eventually started believing. I was tired. I felt I had lost my sanity, my inner peace, I had lost the outspoken free-spirited young woman I once was, and by the time I realized my loss, I could no longer find the path that would lead me back to her.
And now here I stand. In front of my own reflection, wishing I could turn back time. Wishing I would wake up and it would all have been a bad dream. Wishing I hadn’t listened to women who told young girls that it was normal for a husband to beat his wife. I marveled at the sort of generational fear that would cause such a chain of weakness among women. And how I got myself tangled in those very chains.
I took a few steady breaths trying to mentally prepare myself for the worst. And just as I was contemplating on whether or not to use the firearm I had bought a week ago, the door finally gave in to his strength, and he came charging at me. As he came in, I looked into his eyes, trying to find the man I had fallen in love with, trying to catch a glimpse of empathy for the woman he had vowed to protect, trying to find any trace of the love I once believed to have existed In his heart. Only hollow eyes stared back at me in fury as he charged toward me like a raging bull. It was now or never. A cold sweat trickled down my face as my shaking hands nervously raised and pointed the pistol towards him, threatening him to stay away. The tears flowed down my cheeks blurring my vision, and just before he could get to me . . . I pulled the trigger.
21 December, 2022