Domestic Violence : He Had Fallen and Died
Amidst judgement curses and threats, I feel silence and peace. Deaf to all of this with my knees locked in a French kiss with the hard earth, I clutch my toddler and Bible tightly to my stench. Gently but firmly placing my other hand protectively around my unborn. I was not evil nor a witch as the elders and my in laws accused me. Was I evil to have loved a man and married him? Even though the society had claimed that age was no longer on my side because I had witnessed thirty four rainy seasons. Was I a witch to have let his child grow lovingly within me? And endure the privilege of childbirth to give our young one life? I had loved this man with my whole heart
The first time he had struck me, I had not fought back. In shock, I had cried to my mother in law who had pleaded, patience and forgiveness and advised, “He is still your husband and the father to your children. He provides without fail, forgive him for the sake of our children and do not allow the devil put apart what the good Lord has brought together. You are a Christian remember? ” When I caught him with another woman and cried to my mother, she had advised me that the virtues of a good wife is perseverance and she never left her husband’s house. What should be important was that he come back home to me, after all the course of love was never smooth.
I wanted to be a good wife and so had endured all the battering and never defied his authority. The physical, mental and emotional abuse, while my neighbours had turned blind eyes, pretending not to have heard my screams for help, nor seen my scars or heard my silent pleas for freedom from the bondage I called a marriage. It was between husband and wife and should be settled by both parties as long as the woman behaved herself! Both families did not want the shame and stigma of divorce tainting their names, would the taint of death be better?
Then he fell and died this morning. Today his kettle had boiled over and I had had enough
As usual he had stuck me in drunken stupor. I had fallen to the ground bleeding as I gripped my bulging belly. My unborn moved about restlessly within me, I didn’t want a still born. My toddler had run to my rescue and taken a blow in my place. That was my wake up call, I could take any thing, but my children were God’s and mine to protect .Woe betide anyone who laid a violent finger on them. Today I decided to stand up for myself and my children, I had intended to do what ever it takes to put an end to this battering. I had only defended myself by protecting my children
As memories of all painful nights I had wept from beatings and assault came flooding back.
The older women had said , it was disrespectful to push a man to the ground. If that ever happened I would be fined a goat to appease the gods for such a disrespectful act. The older women also said it was disrespectful to talk back to your husband in anger, as it would only flare up his anger. Ha ! It was disrespectful to do so many things to your husband. What about me? Wasn’t I a human being too and didn’t I deserve some respect?
Had I become an object because he had paid a bride price when he had married me?
Was I now a piece of furniture because he was the provider, while I was a wife who stayed home to look after our home and children? Should I have endured beyond endurance because I had endured the privilege of childbirth which many women prayed for and never experienced? Didn’t I deserve happiness and a friend in my husband? Whose hands had once shown me so much love and tenderness?
Well like I said before, I am neither evil nor a witch as they all spit at me now. I had only defended my children when I was being battered. My dear husband had slipped and landed on the broken bottle of alcohol which was his first love, as he charged towards the umbrella I had made with my body over my children. My voice disappeared, I was too scared to scream as the three of us sat curled in a corner. My unborn, my toddler and I. As usual no one had come to my rescue, hearing my screams.
How could I simply explain the truth to my in laws? The truth that their son and brother my husband had fallen on a broken bottle and bled to death? Even if I hadn’t pushed him, they would say I had wished it and that my evil wish had been granted so either ways I was still guilty.
Once again amidst curses and threats, I feel silence and peace. I am again deaf to all of this with my knees still locked in a French kiss with the hard earth, still clutching all that matters most in the world to me. My emotionless eyes note the satisfied smirk on the faces of the women standing silently behind the seated men. I feel nothing. It is not for me to say if he deserved the misfortune that befell him but I had only done what every mother would do. I had but protected my children. On my knees I await the judgement of the elders who are all but men. Why won’t the older women be given the power to judge a case like this? If I am not banished into the evil forest I would be ostracised like all witches were with their property from this village. Ostracised for a crime that I was innocent of. Well, I had stopped caring as I silently pray that I‘ll be ostracised to freedom and a better life for my children.