Through thick lens of tears, I can see his face brighten up. He seems to like the turn of events. Of course he is a weakling. He says to himself. I stand looking. Two dark minutes pass by lazily as if mocking me. My knees feel weaker than ever. You see, there are situations that will leave every person, no matter how tough, weak and vulnerable. One minute, I was killing a man. The next, I am a laughing gas junkie. The next, I am crying buckets of tears. The old man looks at me with hope. He feels he has won. Domestic violence also wins at times. Victory is in the air.
There is nothing victory about domestic violence!
I blurt out. I have discovered a new way to kill domestic violence. In his death bed, I have to draw a picture and show him. A picture of words. Words that have been lurking within my vocal cords for ages. Its time. My face brightens. His face becomes dull. Losing is scary. Losing can also mean dying. So, today, I kill a man! With the sharp edges of words. I want to stab every piece of flesh using the blade he sharpened by himself. I want to see every inch of his tissues contused by the hammer that he borrowed from his awful mindset. I want to break every tired bone in his skeletons. Using the rivet that he stole from the society’s bad workshop! He had always told me to be smart. He had said this pointing and poking vigorously at his skull. Well, I want to be smart and say,
There is nothing smart about domestic violence.
“There is nothing smart about domestic violence,”
I scream, pointing, poking, and hurting my braided skull. His dreamy eyes reflect a man tortured by too much thought. I take my time. For domestic violence, I have all the time. A lifetime actually. “Please bear with me sir. But I want you to remember everything I will tell you. If you remember, nod twice. If you don’t, shake your head,” I begin. He has to wear this pair of shoes.
“For a moment, forget everything you have known.” I tell him. “Let’s take you back. You’re very young. You are five years old. The first encounter with domestic violence is quite juicy. Yes juicy sweet. You have someone you can call a dad. Like other kids, you can talk about my dad did this… my dad did this… my dad is better than yours… you are one of the happiest kids. Your encounter with domestic violence is juicy! Flashfoward to the day you begin to question things. You see, don’t get me wrong. You are young. Yes. But you have an idea of what is good and what is wrong. So this morning, you are wondering whether the picture before you is the right one. Your mother is doing myriads of things at a go. She is preparing you for school. She gets you your blue school dress. You should put it on without help. You are learning to do things for yourself so you can put it on by yourself. You have to. Your mother is doing a lot as it is. A little help from you does not hurt. Once you’re done, you ask for your black shoes. No, you don’t. You want to. But you avoid it. She has a lot going on. You get it yourself.
“Where are my pair of socks,” the harsh voice of Domestic violence heats the room. Both mum and daughter are startled. You know what happens next after such an outburst. A red pepper hot temper. A solid rock of tantrums thrown all over. Blows. A bad day. Spoilt in the morning by domestic violence!
The jiko is almost fully lit. Mum has to go prepare his tea. He always wants it hot and well cooked. You have never understood how well-cooked tea looks like. But there is not a chance for questions. Tea is almost well-cooked.
“Why is my shirt not ironed?” your heart skips a bit as you hear him talk again. More agitated
The iron box is right there
Where is my handkerchief?
Its in the drawer
This is escalating quite fast. You wish you weren’t there. You want mum to finish combing your hair quickly. You want to run to school. School is much better.
Tea is ready
I hope imeiva!
The blue door behind you is screaming and screeching back and forth as you struggle with mum to fit your shoes into your five year old feet and you occasionally hit it. It’s a race against time. Mum is on duty at school. She has to get to work on time too. Things change quickly. No sooner has domestic violence sat down and had the first sip, than he starts clicking and hissing like a rattle snake
Hii chai haijaiva! The shouting is too much for your little ears. But do you have a choice but to listen?
The next thing you know is that you and mum are scampering for safety almost breaking the blue door. Your mother lets out a loud, shrill, and NEMA-unfriendly cry. A cry of pain. The kick must have been heavy and painful. You reckon.
As if that is not enough, domestic violence picks the jug of hot tea. He mumbles words after words too complicated for your ears. His eyes are glorified in the mightiest of fury’s blood shots. With pathetic suddenness he hurls the contents of the jug on mum’s face. You feel the hotness of the droplets as they bounce from your mother’s face to your skin. Mum is sobbing. Her palms are covering her face. She is sitting on the cold floor. The floor is red! A mixture of blood and red paint on the cement. You rush to mum. You hug her face. Protecting her from further harm inflicted by domestic violence. Your back is turned facing him. At least it can cushion her from the dirty words coming out of that man,
“go to… scho..ol.. baby,” mum regains her composure and stammers. “I’ll and find you there” she says”
I have this in control. She says. You obey. But you feel guilty. How could you leave mum alone there? What if she dies? The fear is too much.
One hour passes. Mum hasn’t arrived to school. She is your class teacher. She will stand before you and other children. She will teach you guys. Like morning never happened. Three hours pass. She isn’t there yet. The first lesson goes. Second… third. No mum. You are in fear. A fear too dangerous for a kid. You imagine mum was murdered by domestic violence. She finally gets into class. She heads straight to her desk.
No good morning children
No how are you today
Mum is covering her face using a kitambaa. I notice the white edge of a bandage defying the role of the piece of cloth. The part that is covering her right eye is wet. As wet as fish. You realize that a concoction made of blows, hot tea, and mum’s eyes will always lead to a dangerous reaction which manifests in the form of uncontrollable flow of tears. You learn your lesion.
For the first time, mum skims through the classroom. She is looking for you. Today, you are sitting behind the class. Alone. Your eyes lock, you and mum’s. She nods at you.
Baby, I have this in control… you understand. You have to. There is no time to be young.
You nod back
But inside, you are shaking your head
There is nothing in control about domestic violence!