She looks at the handsome face lying next to her. A draft of last night’s alcohol wafts from his slightly parted lips. It hots her nose, face, enveloping her everywhere, as if to lay claim on her. Her heartbeat quickens. Even in sleep, this man, somehow manages to terrify her.
It’s still dark outside. The early birds are chirping. The stroke of broom on ground, signifies mama Amani her neighbor sharing the same compound is awake. In the beginning, when the thrashing started, she used to be overwhelmed by a sense of remorse.
She used to wait till her neighbor disappeared from the compound before making a quick dash for the Tukul where most of the meals are cooked. She would cover her face in a scarf, the way she was taught by her Arab friends in Khartoum. She would keep her head down and rush back to her room once all the work was done. But now. Now, there is no remorse left, no self-pity, no hurt. There is just a sense of emptiness and a surrender to this being her life.
She carefully slides from the bed, making sure it doesn’t squeak, nearly tripping over his shoe, and frantically looks around for the other one across the room. Almost like a dance, her feet move from one part of the room to the other as she picks clothes, folds some, starts a pile of clothes needing laundry, and then slowly sneaks out of the rooms.
She lets out a sign not realizing she was holding her breath.
There is a swelling forming at the left side of her head, where he had hit her with God knows what. She knows all too well not to touch it, but she touches it anyway wincing in pain. She wraps her Kitenge tighter over her breasts, avoiding the protruding stomach almost as if in disgust. This too has sealed her fate to him forever. This too a culmination of his claim on her. She thought it would ease things, she thought it would change the situation, and for a few weeks, she caught him stealing glances at her, the same way he used to look at her, lovingly.
Almost, with care. However, it didn’t last. It continued, worse than before, as if the life in her belly, was of her own making. Almost, as if in punishment for entertaining the thought if a child stealing the spotlight. His spotlight.
fire, washes dishes at the coals catch fire, put water on the fire, and starts sweeping. As if to match her gloomy countenance, smoke rises over the ill lit room, only to be intercepted by thin rays of light here and there.
She quickly makes tea, makes porridge with a little peanut butter just the way he likes it. She puts more water on the fire and takes a bucket of steaming water into the bathroom. She starts scrubbing, Over the welts and bruises from yesterday. A sign of love he called it.
More soap on the Loofah, more foam as she scrubs away the dried blook now running brown over her thin calves, love he called it.
Here in the misty bathroom, tears are mixed with the hot water, as she washes the swelling between her legs. Sobbing quietly as she remembers the insults that were hurled at her, each word hitting just as painful as the blows that interrupted them, forcing her to surrender to him again and again until, he was drained. She towels and wraps up, heads to the Tukul and takes the recently sharpened Knife, purposefully heading back into the room as his words from last night continued drumming in her brain “You are mine, I bought you”.