- Countless women suffer in silence at the hands of domestic violence ….. photo by Emmy Vester
Folding the uniform of her almost grade 7 going son, she can’t help but look back and day dream about the hopes they had back in high school. How great life would be for her -the car, the children, the job, the house and that amazing husband. A shy smile can’t help but creep up her face. Oh how her life was meant to be. As if by reflex, Mai Ru quickly surrenders her past years dream to the folding of her laundry. He’ll soon be here, she reminds herself as a drop of sweat drips down her brow as an emphasis of all that her husbands arrival brings with him.
In her early years in the marriage, Mai Ru learnt the art and magic of Black Opal. She welcomed its power, that of concealing the true story of a woman’s scar, pimples, black heads, uneven skin tone but more importantly the almost black yet purple eye that Ba’Mwana seemed to enjoy pasting on her fragile light skin toned face.
It’s because I’m the most beautiful woman he’s ever set his eyes on. She reassures herself, looking in the mirror, staring at the evidence of last nights debacle. Carefully pasting her low cost – yet highly effective – Black Opal foundation, Mai Ru reminisces that lustful day she met Ba’Mwana on her way to the salon. He was charming, sleek, funny, full of life. She saw a future with him from day one.
Even God seemed to have endorsed their union as the Jacaranda trees created a beautiful carpet of purple love everywhere they went together.
You’re beautiful, he’d always say into her eyes. Love and lust all masked in the throngs of passion between the two. Come to think of it, she could’ve sworn she saw that very glint of passion in his eyes a few days gone by. That dreamy smile returns again, only to be awakened by a sharp pain of a cut on her lower lip.
“Tino and Angie have gone to visit their Gogo!” , she shouts at the children at her gate waiting for her children to come out and play. At least they aren’t here she silently notes returning to her kitchen. Its not right for kids to witness the anger of their father demonstrated on their mother, they wouldn’t know which side to take. Memories resurface as she remembers how her own father would call her and her brother before he punished Amai for not giving him his favorite piece of meat. Now it was her turn, rightfully punished for doing wrong against Ba’mwana. She like her own mother, deserved every blow.
The gate is rustling, he’s here. Mai Ru quickly goes to the kitchen to ready Ba’mwana’s meal. Drunk as always, he hobbles into the house, mumbling some song he must’ve learnt at the beer hall. And as always, he isn’t in a good mood. She braces herself for what she already knows is coming.
“No Ba’mwana! Its not true! Please!!” she has heard herself cry out so many times before. Its a bit different today, he’s accusing me of befriending Mai Tonde. She’s a slut! He says. Which automatically turns her into a slut. He can’t have a slut for a wife. Expecting a candid yet familiar blow, she screams for help. Tears already falling to the ground.
As if he heard her, Ba’mwana stops and stares at her. He remains silent but she can see the evil in his eyes, growing with each second that passes. From nowhere, she feels a sharp pain burn yet sting across her back. Now all over her body. He keeps beating her. This time its barbed wire. He doesn’t stop, he wont stop. Over and over she bares the pain of a lover that she no longer recognizes.
He keeps at it still, as if beating her was the one calling he had in his life. Numb to the pain, the faces of her children are what keep her clinging to dear life. Pain fading, he still is at it. She drowns into a memory of good times gone by. Only in her subconscious, he can’t take away the love she still has for him. Only in that space, happy they are.
Its because he loves me, she reminds herself, carefully concealing last nights scars from a world that would never understand the love they have for each other.
For Victoria … you deserve better