“I never for once thought it would get to this,” she goes in reference to a black eye, a spontaneously inflamed face, roughed up hair and wildly done buttons.
She covers her face to hide her tears. You can see her body quiver. Probably from the memories of the preceding events, rage or worse, from the fear of the succeeding nights if she dared set her foot in her refuge turned prison. Her grip is weakened by fresh bruises on her knuckles – probably from grazes by the ground or wall. Her pain screams to the world. If only the world could be half as deaf.
Let’s call her Donna.
Like prey, she constantly looks over her shoulder in the rather busy waiting bay. Her lack of ease goes go say how much trust she’s lost in the world. How insecure she is – even of her own presence. Her tears, don’t give in to the multiple looks poking her direction. She crumbles into herself, wishing the world would do the same on her.
The wooden pew is shared by an elderly woman -probably in her eighty’s, a mother wielding a baby crying her pacifier out of her mouth, an elderly male with a cast winding all the way up to his thigh and, well, Donna. In front of them sit a visibly weak lady hanging to life by the reeds, breathing, praying for dear life. To her left are two school boys in tattered checked uniform and puzzled minds, probably with their sickly mother, wondering what to make of Donnas scene. Beside them sits an expectant mother, stealing glances. Quizzically. She (Donna) anchors her brow with her palms, hiding her pain from the rest of the world. The long stretch of pews in the dark waiting bay shows faces of man desperate for help. But none as desperate as Donna.
Our old man sits upright against the wall and the wooden pew squeaks above its feeble legs. Donna finds peace anchored in his voice with every comforting words he speaks but further does she break down as she remembers the torment she’s had to live through.
“What happened?” meekly, he asks. Careful not to shatter her more.
“My husband,” she replies, leaning back against the wall.
“He did all this to you?” he asks.
“Yes, he did,” she replies. “I never thought it would get to this (gasping for air). It’s funny how fast things change. How unbelievably quick someone you thought you knew becomes a worlds apart stranger”.
She shuts her eyes to the world and hopes to stay darkness away from reality. You can see her feet shake as she battles to keep her calm.
“I knew better never to trust a human being in totality but I thought that this one would be different. And with every harsh tone that grew into an insult. Every insult that grew into a shove. With every shove that grazed me over the earthen floor, I trusted that he would stick to the promise he made to me when he took me from a wife,” Donna let’s it all out.
“The promise of loving and cherishing me was all bullshit. A thing he was just saying to get it over with and get me home to be his beast of burden,” she continues.
“How did it get to this?” he asks.
“You mean the rape? These beating? The chastise? The God knows what?” she goes.
“He raped you?!” he asks, trying to lower his voice and mask his shock.
“No! He didn’t. He just said it’s another wifely duty I had was behest to perform by virtue of having accepted to be married to him,” she cries on.
“He what?!” he asks, puzzled.
“He never even cared what I really felt. After all, I’m just a woman and he was the man. After all they are my children and not his. After all, they are my mistakes and not his. The blame was always pointed in my direction. Like I was a baggage of mistakes or something,” she says, somewhat in reminiscence.
“What did you mean by (quoting) ‘after all they’re my children’?” he asks.
“I remember him promising that he would care for them like they were his own. And I believed him heartily. My former husband having died of a rare disease, I had to have someone to help put my children through school. I had my doubts then but when love clouds your vision, your mind goes dark with it,” pausing to take a breath. “I should have known!”
He stretches his arm and gently pats her back. Hoping she acknowledges his concern. Her anger, as ferocious as the sea strikes the bottom of a rocky cliff, sends her body to a fit. Her heart beats from her back and her tears are on a forward stream.
“Trust, in all senses brings the essence in humanity but is also our weakness,” she goes. By now her tone is scaling up and the rest of the patients seem interested in whatever is happening. “I am victim because I ignored the signs even when they were all too bright. I should have packed for home when he slapped me the first time but I trusted that he’d change. I trusted that he would make amends with himself and I and come back to his senses. Then he slapped me again. Only this time he sent a jab with it. And the next, a kick to my belly.
I was dead sure he wouldn’t notice chivalry if it sneaked up on him in the streets but I trusted the process anyway. Look where it brought me, struggling for breath chocking on my own innocence”.
The old man is held at gunpoint by emotion. Not knowing what to say or do. Wondering what to make of the situation. As of this point, he has lost this battle.
“So I sit here in this pew,” she goes. “Shattered and broken. Scared to death what may come if I leave that home today. The trauma I would have brought my children and the shame they would have to walk in having come from a broken family. I wonder if I have the strength to stand at all”.
“With this thing inside me, I don’t even know what to make of life anymore. It’s like I’m drowning. Pulling against the stream. Yet if I change my mind and walk back home and decide to keep it, I will forever see a seed of violence. I will try to love it, but with just a little less love as I do my own. I will be proud of it but just a little less as I am of my own. I will stand by it but but when my own sit on the other side of the balance, I will not be short of choice where to go. I will end up hating myself for being so selfish with love. For what good is it, forcing a love that wasn’t there in the first place?”.
“I am so sorry…” he says, remorsefully.
“If sorry would cut it, maybe we would still be in some garden, naming fruits, unawares of our nakedness. Pardon me if I’m not in quite the mood to rake in apologies,” she speaks with some finality. The kind of finality that a man pushed to the wall for so long shows.
The silence in the bay dances to the flickering sound of the single fluorescent tube. The walls just caved in. Rubble and dust. All grey with heartbreak. No survivors.
“Donna Leting’!” goes the nurse.
“Donna Leting’!” second call. This time louder.
Donna helps herself up looks the other way and disappears into the light at the exit.
The faults in our stars.
Have a fruitful week, Will you?