Continued from last week
I guess that was why I fell in love with him, pity. And that was the reason my mother’s words ended up like writing on water, disappearing after the slightest wave. I married him and came to his house full of love and faith. I wanted to take care of him like a mother would a child. I wanted to protect him from ridicule and pains that he must have been a victim of all his life. I was going to be the best thing that ever happened to him. And I was, until the night he came back stoned, just two months into our marriage.
‘Where are you?’ he shouted, stumbling into the room. The obnoxious air that followed him in reached me, awaking me rudely from sleep. I was sleeping on the carpet to straighten my back.
‘What’s that smell?’ I wondered, sitting up and clearing my eyes. I noticed his small figure hovering over me. ‘I didn’t know you were back. Welcome,’ I said, the smell overwhelming my senses.
‘What kind of stupid question is that? I’m asking you, you are asking me?’ he said, raising his voice, ‘I’m standing in this water and you are cooking, and abusing me? Are you stupid?’ he bellowed.
This wasn’t making any sense. Standing in water – cooking – abusing? ‘What are you talking about?’ I asked alarmed. I tried to stand up.
‘Sit down!’ He said, pushing me back. ‘Are you crazy? I’m talking and you want to swim. Are you ready to live or die?’ He then squatted in front of me and took my face in his hands. ‘Marijuana, ganja, wee-wee is the answer to all our problems,’ he pronounced solemnly. My eyes widened in shock, I never knew he smoked, not even a cigarette. The next thing was a calm, dirty slap, making me see stars inside my head.
That was how it began.
In the morning, he apologized to me and promised it would never happen again. He explained that he’d lost some money to some fraudsters in the market, which was why he went to smoke to forget the ordeal. I forgave him and tried to make sense of his circumstance. He even bought me a new set of shoes, I was very happy. Two nights later, it happened again. And then it continued.
In retrospect, I blamed my father for not finding out and caring about the kind of person my husband was before they gave my hands to him in marriage. My father was supposed to do that for me, but I guessed business came first. Well, I was not ready to report the incidents since I’d just got married. I was ready do whatever it took for it to work. Besides, my mother had warned me. I couldn’t face her now; she’d laugh at me, something in the line of ‘I told you so.’ So I buckled up and bore the stench. I resolved to make my marriage stand the tests.
Crack! His hand connects, sending torrents of pain up through my head as my nose bent in submission. But I did not wince in pain. Rage is welling up inside me and it is reaching my eyeballs. My husband steps back to understand what just happened. I am supposed to hold my face and cry. I am supposed to beg him to stop hurting me. I am supposed to be apologizing for a crime I did not commit. I am supposed to slump to my knees, hold his legs and cry for mercy. That was yesterday.
Today, I look at him, sizing him up as everything comes back to me – all the abuses, the beatings and pains. But his body looks like a small caricature of bones and skin. This man cannot be my husband. May be my husband is in there somewhere, but this is just a bundle of weak evil masquerading as a man. This tiny, unfortunate nuisance needs deliverance. It begins to occur to me that my purpose is probably to save this thing from itself, not to allow it to hurt and conquer me, or anyone else.
But what is he supposed to be to me?! I retorted justly. He is supposed to care for me, love me and protect me too. But he’s turned me into a punch bag. I cannot report to anyone. They will laugh at me. Shall I wait until he kills me? God prohibits me raising my arms, but did God give him permission to kill me? So I’m gonna whack my husband’s butt and make him feel the pains he makes me feel. And then I’ll go back to God and ask for forgiveness, just like my husband.
So I roar and the earth beneath me shakes in response as I lunge to seize and crush his bony mass; but my husband is nowhere to be found. ‘Where are you?’ I cry hoarsely with blinding rage, but I guess he had seen it coming and so he took off before I got him. But he’ll come back.
He’ll come back.