Only these are true.
She stares at the swirling plaster on the ceiling, grey, uninviting. The creaky ceiling fan moving in a rhythm almost like a lullaby. The window is boarded, the room is dark and musty, it is a Friday afternoon. There is a man there with her, her husband. No she must not think, she looks intently at the ceiling. She can feel finger nails clawing through her arms. The physical pain she can block but her mind is in pieces now. Every thrust feels like a dagger, icy and cold.
Her child is in the room too, crying, their house is a single room, a shanty. Her one year old, she can see her bones stick out. A girl shunned by all. She was 19 and the only reason she didn’t use that rope by the bed is because of her angel, her daughter. Her parents decided she must get married at 17 and she obeyed. She didn’t want to, she wanted to study, to work. Books were a privilege and she was poor, and a girl. She looked at the ray of sunlight that shone through the boarded window. The particles of dust shining like gold. The pain stopped, he was gone. She must get up and go to work at the construction site. The sheets were stained, she could make out the old blood stains she was unable to remove. She got out of bed and walked towards the tap, she must go to work.
She looked out of her open window, the street was empty. Her pearls felt heavy around her neck. She had everything yet nothing. In her youth she dreamt of doing something extraordinary. She was fifty and never had she once done something impulsive. Tradition shackled her for life. He made her abort two girl child’s she bore, and the third was a son. They celebrated his birth but that day all she could do was mourn the death of his unborn sisters. She never knew what it would feel like to travel alone, meet new people, fall in love with sights and sounds. And she never will. Her mother always said freedom was overrated. She wished she could tell her how wrong she was.
She looked at her watch, a new Rolex she got herself last week. She was one of those women who believed they shouldn’t have to do anything they don’t want to to get what they deserve. It was a long wait but she finally got promoted. She was a member of the board, the only woman there. She wasn’t proud of it, she wished there were more women. Her marriages kept falling apart, she was 40 and her eggs were in a cryo bank. She didn’t want this, she dreamt of children, but she knew she wouldn’t be able to care for them then. Now her obstetrician tells her, her womb cannot hold a baby. She looks at her watch, time flies. Did she make the wrong choice? She hated having to chose. She knew she shouldn’t have to. ‘Would you like to consider a surrogate mother?’ Some people think some women don’t want to go through labour, they want an easy way out. But she knew every woman who lives today in an unjust world knows pain from her first breath as a newborn entering the world. She knew what they called her at the office. Medusa. A head full of snakes, if only.
She was home alone her parents were at the clinic. Dad called, her uncle was coming home. She should let him in, he wanted to meet her. She wished her parents were home. But she didn’t know why what he did to her was wrong and what she should tell her dad. She let him in. He did those things again. She didn’t like his cold hands under her shirt. It was her favourite shirt, with pink flowers. Did this happen to other kids in school? Their class teacher never talked about this. She couldn’t understand.
He couldn’t stand the stress of his job. It changed him, made him angry, made him want to blame someone, made hate his family. He realised before it was too late, he took a step back. It changed him, he was calm, healthier, happy. He worked now, but he found the right balance. His wife did better than him professionally. He understood he must help her out. He knew what they said. Her success made him happy but society did not accept it. What he did stopped his family from falling apart, stopped him from falling apart. They did not understand and he wished they could. He knew their opinions didn’t matter. He knew he should try harder to help his wife. But the voices…. Everyday is a battle to keep them at bay.
Can they survive? Can they fight back? Yes. They can and they will.