(For a better experience, read while listening to Marshmello ft. Khalid’s “Silence”. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tk36ovCMsU8)
[In the beginning]
My folks liked him. A lot. He was a golden boy. The ladies including my friends wanted him. Money was involved too. A rich kid, he was. I was lucky, everybody told me so. That my parents approved of him meant so much to me. For them, I was the wrong child ever since I stopped worshipping with them. Though he wasn’t a worshipper like me, they’d somehow come to like him and welcomed his interest in me. I convinced myself that I’d come to love him, and we got married.
I had not completed school as my parents couldn’t afford it. He promised that he’d see to it that I finished. I was happy. I trusted and depended on him for he was the breadwinner, and of course my husband. I didn’t mind that his folks didn’t like me; I wasn’t married to them. Then, there was a day when I had a major disagreement with his mom. He took her side and hit me. Severally. I still don’t know how or why it all started: one day I discovered he was having an affair. Affairs, multiple times, multiple women. His folks know and approve. I’ve often blamed myself for not being enough. But how I can be what he wants I have no clue; he’s never admitted the affairs. Blows follow every confrontation.
He is well respected in our community: kind, philanthropic, good-humored, sociable and such words have been used by neighbors and friends to describe him to me. They know my husband more than I do. He sponsors the education of others and tears me up when I remind him of his promise that I would complete mine. “You are dumb and foolish. You don’t have the brains for school”, he would always tell me. “You are incapable of running any business” he would also say, as I watched him give other women money to start their business. Some of the women he gave many times; as often as their businesses failed.
We have two young children. They don’t understand what an affair means and have never seen their daddy hit me. I used to explain to them that my swollen lips were from slips and falls in the bathroom. And my son asked why I couldn’t keep the floor dry since I always told him to do so. I’ve changed the explanation.
[… and years]
Yes, I’ve considered what you are thinking. But you see, in our community a woman who separates from or divorces her husband is shamed and usually blamed for failing to make the marriage work. And who would take care of my beloved children? My husband will get custody of them. That’s how it is in our community.
There is something else. I’m beginning to think that my husband might be right that I’m not good at anything. I just may be a failure. I’ve struggled through the years to be positive and hopeful. Nothing has changed. So now, I’m trying a new approach: finding peace despite his fists and words. At least, he’s still married to me.
(A fist version of this narrative is available at: Once Upon a Month – Peace)