It was a late Sunday night. All the lights in the nearby houses were off, a clear indication everyone was asleep as the landlady’s dogs growled fiercely, sending chills down the spines of all who heard them. The night was quiet, and the dogs’ barking was the only sound tearing through the silence, and I hated the sound; because I associated it to break-ins.
The neighbourhood we lived in wasn’t the safest, given that our landlady’s son was a young man, who had recently cleared from high school and had joined a gang which used to break into people’s houses. A few recent burglaries made me so afraid of the night as that meant thieves were free to roam.
Unfortunately, in my house we used to sleep late. It had become a tradition. Dad would come home late drunk, and we would be eagerly waiting for him to bring us food, even though most nights the wait would be for naught as we would still go to bed hungry and crying after seeing mom and dad fight. That night however, as we were sitted in the living room we heard a knock on the door.
At first we were all afraid but when the knocking persisted, mom peeped through the window which was adjacent to the door and seeing it was just her friend, she opened up. The woman, who we had visited earlier in the day walked in, dressed in dark clothes and a shawl over her head. She was a bit reluctant to drop the shawl, and when she finally did, I understood why.
Her face was all swollen, with dried blood stains. I could barely recognize her. To this day, I’ve never forgotten how shaken I felt. She looked so different. Luckily for us, mom and dad hadn’t fought that day and dad had gone to bed early, so mom and her friend had all the time to talk. When we managed to get a chance to talk to mom, we curiously asked her what had happened to her friend because she seemed like she had been mugged.
I don’t remember how old I was at the time, but mom told us her friend’s husband had beaten her. I couldn’t believe it. She had been okay earlier when we visited her at her place after church. Worse still, her house was almost an hour away from ours if one walked and apparently, she had come on foot, alone in the dark. Everything about that picture was scary.
I’m not sure if we were on holiday but the next day my mom and I saw her off at the bus stop, where she took a bus to go back to her mom’s. She had left her four children with her husband. When her husband attacked her she had fled out of the house with no money on her; only with the clothes on her back. It was really sad.
I knew her husband, and he didn’t seem like the violent type. Then again, it’s hard telling men who are violent just by looking at them; dad looks like he couldn’t possibly harm a fly; looks can be deceiving.
After that day I don’t remember seeing much of her as I went to boarding school later so I didn’t tag along often everytime mom went to see her as she was her best friend at the time. All I know is she later went back to her husband.
Years later, she went to see mom at work the Thursday before mom quit her job. They don’t see each other a lot because we moved to a different part of the city and the long distance sought of put a barrier in their relationship. They talk on phone rarely but they are still good friends.
When she visited mom at work, she told mom she’s now separated from her husband.
Sombrely, she went on to tell mom the events that led to their separation and I must admit; it was pretty ugly: One night her husband came home, wielding a sword. Her youngest daughter was away in boarding school, while the oldest was in her college hostel.
She was in the house with her third born daughter. Her only son was just nearby at a friend’s house. Scared, the daughter stood between her mom and dad screaming, shouting for help. Eventually her son came home just in time to find her husband about to slash her. Her son tried to hold his dad from behind but he still overpowered him and hit him on the jaw with the handle.
Her daughter intercepted it, holding the blade with her fingers and she suffered severe cuts, with her fingers almost falling off. When neighbours came in to help, the man hid the sword and sneaked his daughter, who was bleeding profusely to a nearby health centre. After that incident mom’s friend moved out, taking her children with her.
When mom told me about the incident, I pitied them an awful lot. She has been through so much. I always hate it when my parents fight but I don’t remember dad inflicting such physical wounds on us. With my family, the wounds are mostly emotional. It’s difficult too, but I’d hate to lose my fingers in a one-man-sword fight.
The husband as it is, wants his wife to go back to him. I hate to come off as unforgiving, but given the nature of that man, I would really discourage mom’s friend from being sweet talked into reconciling with him. If she went back, he might succeed in killing her the next time; God forbid!
Such abusive people just need to be left alone.