Her spine bent over at the end of her bed,
As the cotton dabbed the redness away, her lips quivered with pain trying very hard to vanquish the feeling of her boiling blood.
His touch had never felt like a slap before,
His touch had never felt like the end of a beautiful sunset into a dark long night,
His touch had never felt like the sting of a thousand bees on the cheeks that he once kissed.
As the pit of her stomach settled, her thoughts gathered like the pieces of a puzzle that she never thought she would have to solve.
“Forgiveness comes easier to a woman’s heart than a man’s” she thought, as every bone in her body repelled the idea, she went with her heart.
That night, she met with his apologetic eyes, which spoke of a story that sounded familiar.
“Was it abuse, my love?” he asked as he tried to hide years of patriarchy behind the silken softness of passion and love.
“No”, she replied with a dainty smile, gulping down her self-respect and pride which tasted like deceit and defeat.
“If it’s not abuse, why do I feel so glum?”
This time around it wasn’t a sting, but a gash on her neck, right above her collarbone.
Her fingers were sore from the way he held it tight, completely disregarding her shrieks of agony.
This time, he validated his actions, “She made a mistake and she had to pay for it”
With every soiled word of disgrace that left his mouth, she sunk lower into the ground.
With whatever inside her that wasn’t broken yet, she fought back for the sake of saving herself from,
The nights which consist of overthinking and blame-games,
the nights which are weakened by the smell of unattended wounds,
the nights that cringe at the thought of closed eyes and memories.
The fire in her heart had been reduced to heated palms which held onto the sides of her neck, trying to examine her failure to stand up for herself.
Yet, when he engulfed her hands in his own the next afternoon and enquired the damage that he had perhaps done in a fit of rage, she thought she saw a tint of concern on his face, which fed her deprived stomach with some solace.
“Was it abuse, my love?” he asked, as he made her feel guilty for expecting an apology at the least; repentance was out of the question.
‘No’ she said with the terror of his hands rising to the occasion of her vulnerability all over again.
“If it isn’t abuse, then why does this silence feel so uncomfortable? Why do his arms feel like the end of a broken bridge?”
The third time he laid his hand on her body, it was with the intention of rupturing her hairline, as she fell to the ground with a thud.
This time though, her movements seemed coordinated, since she knew this drill by heart.
The wound on her forehead was a badge that he had learned to wear with unabashed honour.
To him, her soul was a canvas that he could encroach in the name of ‘Art’.
Her love for him had blinded her to the shamelessness of his actions,
But, not anymore.
Her blood seethed as she saw him standing in front of her with a belt in his hand, not even batting an eyelid,
Her blood seethed as her vulnerability came rushing back to her in the form of a clenched fist,
The worst was over, she believed.
Nothing was worth living in a dungeon with a monster.
Nothing was worth taking the abuse of a man who had forgotten her worth.
And nothing was worth closing her eyes to injustice that stripped her off her dignity.
As she stood up with the help of both her hands, her face felt hot.
“YES, it is abuse.
It was abuse when you broke my spirit with your bare hands,
It was abuse when you killed my faith in kindness,
It was abuse when you touched me with an intention of terrorising me to the core of my being,
And abuse is unacceptable.”
This time, she had stood up against him with renewed vigour,
With the intention of taking control of her life,
Because it was her life, her choices, her body, her mistakes, her morals, her pride, her emotions, and her trust that he had violated.
This time, she had woken up to punish her perpetrator,
This time, she had opened her mouth to breathe fire.
- Devisha Narekuli