BATTERED BUT BRAZEN
There was no repentance even after last night. The slap which left her confused and dazed. He wanted more- “breakfast on bed” like he would call it. After this breakfast, she was required to prepare another breakfast. She was staring at him with a black eye. His hands were always painful so, hurting like bee’s sting.
“Open it up”, he bellowed, sweating profusely in the morn’s sun and stretching his genitals. He was yet to begin and was already charged. She still hurt after last night hurtful plunges. She knew crying or making faces only further complicate issues. His libido was ravenous and destructive and she did not want to imagine this pain.
These are some days she felt like committing suicide and ending her miserable life. He felt he bought her therefore he owns her. Countless times, he had said “Do you know how much I spent on you? It’s enough to build a house”.
She herself could not deny feeling like a slave sold to him. Her father never even respected his daughters. They were eight girls and two boys.
Several times, her father would say If God had given him eight boys and not eight girls, he would have been blessed. He had also said they were curses to him and his generation.
Her mother also suffered worse fate. Countless times, she and her sisters would gather in her mother’s room comforting and tending to wounds inflicted by her father. Her mother never went out; was always indoors from year to year. Father bought groceries and provided for them. Mother was someone you could call a stark illiterate. The females in the house were never allowed to even watch the television because father said “It makes women misbehave when they feel they’ve gotten enough knowledge”.
Baba had also said “Education was not for girls. It’s meant for boys.” Her brothers Hakim and Yousaf were his only educated children.
As a young child growing up, Hadiza had always wanted to become a doctor. She only knew from books her brothers brought home that doctors wear white garments and carry ropes on their necks. Her brother had corrected her saying it was stethoscope.
But then she pronounced it as se-thos-cope. Being a doctor had been her dreams, she felt one day she would be brave enough to let her father know what she wished to be.
In her mind, she had prepared a speech, and then questions and answers segment her father would engage her in. When she felt she was finally ready to tell Baba, she knocked at his door. Her heart was beating faster than her thoughts and almost threatening to throw her into a state of high blood pressure.
Baba’s disgruntled replied, “Who’s disturbing my peace?”.
She wondered a million things she might be distracting him from doing and if this was a stumbling block to her request.
“It’s me baba”, slightly pushing the door to let herself in.
Her father was chewing a local wood and reading their local morning newspaper. The aroma of her mother’s breakfast seemed to spur her on as she continued “I wanted to tell you something, Sir.”
“Hadiza? What do you want to tell when the cock’s first crow has not been heard? Don’t you know this is my quiet time?”, his brows arched questioningly. In that split of seconds, she noticed how her baba had aged suddenly. His face looked rough and too oily. His facial marks seemed to drool over his face. His muscles contracted as he held on vigorously to the stick which screamed in his mouth. He drove the stick side to side in a jerky manner that she was afraid would injure his gum.
This face she had never dared to study, she did today. Not to annoy him further, she clutched her hand together and bowed her head to avert his gaze from hers.
She could not muster enough courage to let the words out.
“Well, if you’re not going to tell me anything, you can as well leave me in peace….”, still working judiciously on his chewing stick and stretching the newspaper for a clearer view.
The ground seemed to give way all around her. She felt caved in and losing her breath almost too quickly; she found it difficult to even stand. Her legs were failing her too along with her bravery.
“Baba, um, I’ve come to tell you I want to go to school, like my brothers. I want to become a doctor so I could take care of you in your old age”, she had a mixed feeling of pride and fear. What would he do with her now?
Her father’s face tilted instantly like a daze gun was shot right at him. Her father was chuckling now and she smiled too. At least she didn’t expect that!
“You want to go to school”, he reiterated. Turning towards her now, “And you want to take care of me in my old age?”
“Yes baba”, she curtsied, adding “and mama too”.
The rest of what happened that day was not far-reaching. That singular act only fast-forwarded her imminent doom and this was why — She was the last born of the girls. He father ‘sold’ each of her sisters off when they completed fifteen years. This was because he believed the younger they were, the better and more likely to procreate.
But she was only ten when she had taken that ‘bold step’ that caused her to be shipped off to the nearest suitor a few weeks after that.
BACK TO THE PRESENT BEFORE THE PRESENT
She widened her legs to let him in. She lay back trying to think positive thoughts to take her mind off the pain her cervix felt. Her breasts heaved and vibrated with each thrust.
Her thoughts could not wander as they were already lost in pains. She wished like every other day for this to end. Several times in the kitchen, she had thought of committing arson, burning herself and every single damned thing he claims to own. Thoughts of how devastated her mother would feel if she were to follow what two of her sisters had done prevented her. They had committed suicide. Her eldest sister Hassena had jumped off a bridge and her immediate elder sister Safiya had overdosed herself with her depression pills.
She was not about to become suicidal. She was never going to let him get to her. She may be weak but she was strong. But how does she fight this scourge which had triumphed from one generation to another?
LATER THAT DAY
She had sat at the television watching one soap opera or the other. She had watched them for so long that she could tell the names of every character and the latest development on series. Her daily life consisted of chores, cooking, watching TV and fucking him every single night.
She knew something better awaited her outside. She is been with this beast for eight years now. Her face looked more older than her years, she was never allowed to be a child. She felt stunted and too old for her age. Her body was hers and no one else’s.
Just as if the Television was in tune with her thoughts, an advert sprang on the TV about giving the girl-child a chance at education and ending child abuse. The ONE organization were in charge of the programme. But she didn’t have any phone to contact them. She rushed to her neighbour’s house. Mrs. Insch had a phone with internet, she asked her to punch the search titled “ONE Organization” and the search results returned with great news for her. After signing up, she contact them and was able to tell her story.
HER STORY TODAY
They encouraged her and today, she is one of the pioneers of the organization. Her husband is serving time for child abuse and molestation. She is still trying her best to help women like her mother and her sisters.
She grew like a butterfly out of a deadly cocoon. She visits memory lane and wished she had contacted this organization years back.
She is a doctor now and not only helping out men like her father, she also talks to them about respecting and treating their wives well. She works at a local hospital to see if she could change some cultures that hurt women.
She’s fighting hard and though it’s not going to be easy, she needs her fellow women to speak out.
Because we’re ONE. And we are Women. Not WOO-MEN.
Women and girls like Hadiza, suffer same fate all over the world each day. Save a woman today by speaking out. Don’t let women and girls suffer anymore.