Uncaged

I was born to a loveless marriage. Two people who could care less about each other bore a child. Me. Two adults who wanted each other dead, gave life to a being. How do I know they would stab each other at the first chance they had? Their energies went to war when they shared a room. The tension could easily suffocate you as they traded death scorns.  She had seen it all. He had beaten her, scratched her, dragged her on the floor; landmarks made using her body were everywhere around the house. The most conspicuous one on her is beneath her right eye just above her cheekbone.

That day mother left me to my dolls and the sitter was curled up with a book. We both enjoyed our worlds. Mostly because they were quiet. Dora, my sitter, knew what was going on and many times she had scooped me to escape the madness, only for me to come back high on sugar from all the ice cream she had bought me. She needed the money so she stayed. This day however, he came storming through the house asking for mum. Terrified, we stared at him and pointed towards the door . He bellowed again and Dora quickly stated the name of the salon dearest mummy had gone to get her hair done.

I was already in bed when mummy came home. I heard it all. She had not made it to the stairs when I heard his angry murmurs again. They were firm. I could imagine the foams at the corners of his mouth. Then there were quick steps. A bang. Soft steps. Often those were mothers. A scream. And another bang. I turned in my bed and scooped Lily my doll. I was scared that mum had finally died and now dad would come after me. I heard the front door open and someone ran outside. It had to be mum.

Somehow in the midst of all the madness, I drifted away and slept. His footsteps woke me up. His shadow darkened the light coming from under  my door and now fully awake I was ready to die. He entered my room, picked me up and said that there was a policeman who wanted to talk to me about ‘mummy’s accident’. Holding me tight and me choking Lily to death, we went downstairs. There were many of them. Policemen. And our neighbour. Where was mother? The police promised that I was not in trouble and asked me when I last saw mummy. He then asked if I heard mummy in the kitchen. I said yes. She had screamed as well. Dad looked satisfied with that answer. He smiled and mouthed ‘good girl’ to me. I was not going to die that day.  According to him, mummy had mistakenly got burned while cooking and the fools actually believed it. She came back a week later with a big scar that she caked with foundation.

Oh she never left.

Now I am in a loveless marriage.

We met in campus.  I loathed him at the time. He was obnoxious, skinny and loud. Everyone admired his wit and spoke highly of his leadership qualities. I was too proud to admit to any of his good qualities so I hated him. That drew him in. He always  forced me into long winded  conversations  whenever he met me. I am a good listener so it was pretty easy to hear him out. Also as he blabbered on it gave me a chance to read his nonverbal cues. My were they loud!

He talked with both hands in the air, his right hand often folded like  he was always ready to fist bump anyone who came his way. He threw his head back with all his teeth out when laughed at his own jokes. He came pretty close to me when he wanted to share some ‘rare’ achievement. It’s like he was not confident about  it but mostly, because it was a lie. He hunched his shoulders forward a bit as if to try and make them appear broader. Summed up, he was what insecurity and feigned esteem looked like in a body.

“You worry too much about what people think about you and it shows.” My mouth always outran my brain.

That turned him on for some obscure reason. I challenged him and him me and we both loved it. What followed was a series of lunches and after school coffees, all on him. He never let me pay for anything. After campus we lost physical touch for two years but had sporadic conversations that lasted no less than two hours.

A vacancy opened up at his work place and I quickly applied. It was the perfect opportunity for me. He backed me up for the position with the HR and two weeks later, I was at my new desk. He stopped by every morning and we had lunch together almost every day. Lunches were always in the outdoor seating area and he caught me up on his two year’s long senseless banter. Everything was the same besides his obvious weight gain. At this point, only his brain was attractive but that is not the first thing you see when you meet someone,right? He told me of a fight he had with a girl when he was young. The girl walked away with a broken nose and he with a week’s suspension. It was her fault he said in a defensive tone. I nodded, it must have been the girl.

The dates then left the office for the coffee shops. He ordered too much food for me, I thought he was out to make me as chubby as he was. Then came the first big fight. He made a funny comment about my body. I whacked the daylights out of him. He raised his hand to hit me and quickly stopped himself. He did not hit me. He loved me. Afterwards were episodes of anger shared between us that ironically heightened our sexual tension.

I travelled to U.S for my MA and caught a healthy break from the madness.  School was fun. I morphed into a beautiful peaceful person. I wrote every minute and volunteered at a children’s hospital a couple of hours a week and what was left I read and explored the local art scene. A year and a half later I was done and ready to go back home.

At a book signing for my newly published children’s book, he marched to the front just as I handed out my last book to a young boy with a well oiled afro and two missing front teeth. He seemed well. Healthy and settled. A quick scan revealed no wedding band. He offered to walk me to my car but we had to grab dinner first. It was like I never left. He told me of his company and how running it was harder than he thought. He congratulated me on my blossoming career and revealed that he had waited for me. Of course he did. We were meant for each other. To my mother’s delight we were married in nine months.

He was a darling husband. Between his many travels we only had a few days a week together. Part of me was happy for the quiet time that allowed me to write more. On some days he surprised me and showed up without as much as a heads up. On those days we would order in because I never cooked when left to my ways. Then the surprises became way too many. He started showing up at my writing club meetings that were hosted rotationally each week, among the ten members. Another incident was when I found him waiting outside a movie theatre after a 10 pm screening of the movie The Whole Truth. He insisted that I pick my car the next day to which I declined.  I had a long day planned the next day and the mall was way off my route.

Our journey home looked like a police chase. He tailed me while jumping lights all the way. He was furious. Once home he had a five minute rant about how I enjoyed my time alone.

“This would not happen if we had kids,” he concluded.

“We talked about this.” I finally got a word in.

“Did we? You said you were not ready to have kids I did not know that meant never.”

“I  am still not ready.”

“When will you be?”

“I don’t know. Why are you doing this?”

“Why am I doing this? She asks. You walk around like you don’t want to be married. Your little writing clubs, brunch every Sunday with your mother, Thursday movie nights that you go to alone like a creep and don’t get me started on you still dressing like we are back at CUEA.”

“I will ignore your comment on my fashion because it’s ignorant. Brunch with my mother is called spending time with your family. If you were around more often you would know what that means.”

That was the first day he slapped me. I slapped him back. He hit me on the head with his left fist. I pushed him back to the table. He fell and hit his head. He stood and charged towards me. I knew I was dead. I ran to the bedroom but he beat me to it. He grabbed me and pushed me to the closet. He stared into my eyes and kissed me. I was definitely not in the mood. That never stopped him. We went to bed backs against each other. The next morning he kissed me on the forehead and left for a business trip.

The next time he choked me, pushed me to the floor, quickly picked me and had his way with me. He always did. But there is no such thing as rape in the confines of marriage.  It was even better when he broke three glasses because I was on phone with Melinda for too long. At least he had not broken my other arm. My mother got suspicious and my stupid stories about hitting the closet, falling in the bathroom did not cut it. During his many surprises he found me in the bathroom and asked that I turn off the water and look at him. I heard him but did not listen.  He grabbed me in the shower and we both fell. I tried to crawl away from him but he caught up every time. This time he had planned on killing me and he would have succeeded. I tried to reach for my towel but he got to it and threw it further away. The bed seemed too far, if only I could get to it.

Someone was at the door. We both stopped. He straightened his tie, still dripping of water he went to the door. I could barely make out what they said. Minutes later he came back but  I had locked him out of the room. I sunk in the chair in the corner and frantically texted Melinda who threatened to call the cops. He begged, threatened, pleaded, cried and finally gave up. He slept on the couch. In the morning I made breakfast that we shared in silence and he left. That is the same day I found a realtor who helped me secure an apartment across town.

With my mum’s help I have managed to move my things slowly that he has barely noticed. After today I will have moved out permanently. My closet is empty and so is my dressing table.  I am done. Mummy  is in the kitchen packing all the china I bought before him, us. I pray  that today is not one of the days he surprises me. If it is I will kill him if my mum does not do it first. It would not be the first time she killed a man and got away with it. She swore then that no one would hurt me or her ever  again.

 


  1. Nkatha

    3 October

    Wow!! Love it babe!

    My heart always bleeds whenever I hear abuse stories.

    • admin

      3 October

      The fact that other people stand by and watch as it happens is what breaks my heart. Then again we have been raised to not wash our dirty linen in public and hence we are losing more people to abuse.Thanks Nkatha.

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