I saw her lay unconscious in her own pool of blood in the darkness as rays from the security light escaped through the door edges.
I was raised in a family of four as the last born and only girl . I grew up in a humble home that could at least have a meal a day.My surname that I always prefer not to state has a meaning from tales of sadness , misery and loss as believed in most cultures from the North part of Uganda and neighboring borders. The most common being that a mother buried many of her children before you came along.
I am not ashamed to say I was my father’s favourite from the time I was born. Rumour was that the first born was a girl who died due to some serious case of malaria in a taxi as my unemployed and illiterate mother was rushing her to father’s office for money for medical treatment. Something that brought a serious rift between both parties since it was an arranged marriage. My mother was a very submissive woman whose place as society commanded was the her husband, kitchen and taking care of the children. Having been born intelligent , I always topped my classes throughout primary school and was involved in extra curricular activities with various schools that I never had time to be taught “a woman’s place ” in society. Something my father approved but mother detested. Our mother-daughter relationship was practically civil by primary two. My late grandmother and late aunt always filled in that gap during Christmas holidays in the village before the Lord’s Resistance Army destroyed our homes where as the family tree spread too far and wide that I still meet people I might be related to up to date.
The more I achieved in school, the more my father showered me with praises and gifts . Something that made my mother so bitter and constantly jumped on any opportunity to beat me up. Having been born out of luck but not physically strong, my father always ridiculed her and that’s when he started drinking alcohol.
It takes just one sip of that alcohol to ruin your life and those around you forever.
It grew from sips to bottles , to late nights , skipped meals and ultimately violence on any one who objected the mere thought of alcohol . I slept in the same room as my parents while the boys stayed in the next room.
I saw a man who society looked up to and feared so much become a man they made jokes out of freely because he always wreaked of alcohol though he somehow managed to keep his job.
The worst part was watching and listening to the violence happen every night but sit in the dark just hoping they would run out of saliva or energy and sleep. Efforts to always make them stop by forcing tears and blaming it on insect bites rarely worked and my brothers declined to always come and help.
There was one night I remember so vividly when my mother took the argument too far and accused him of cheating or being too nice to a specific lady, something that made my already alcoholic father lose it and start raining kicks and punches on a defenseless woman from the bedroom , through the corridor and into the living room in the dark grabbing her by the neck. He worked out every morning while she did house wife duties and therefore over powered her.
I stood in the dark clueless hoping my brothers or neighbours would hear her screams and come rescue her but no one came. No one ever comes in time. Upon realising that I was watching , my father temporarily stopped the beat down and chased me to bed while grabbing my hand so tight I still had marks the next day . He wreaked so bad and his eyes were blood shot red like of the boda boda men that smoked tobacco for warmth during cold days. I laid in bed and tried closing my eyes and ears like everyone else constantly advised but it never worked. The blood shot red eyes and pain never left. And then like an angel had finally saved the situation with a huge thud, the whole place became silent. And for the first time in a long time , I heard my mother call me by my Christian name . Glad with a grin on my face I ran up to the sitting room and went straight for the lights . My father was no where in sight though I heard someone rummaging through things in the kitchen. I turned around to find the location of my mother’s voice and that scene was something I never wished for my enemy.
She had numerous cuts and bruises all over her once smooth skin with blood trekking from her head down to the floor with the broken part of the wooden table with its nail next to her. I was still a pure vegetarian then and the sight of blood or meat made me puke. I felt tears roll down my eyes as I tried to collect the blood off the floor and put it back so maybe it would go back in her body and she’d feel better. She stopped me half way with the little strength she had and just told me to forcefully wake up my brothers. I banged so hard on their door the first time that I almost broke my hand. Fear and shock had made me numb to everything else. I came back to her side on hearing footsteps from my brother’s room . I tried to get a rug at around 4am to prevent the blood from getting stuck under the wooden chairs . I was about to clean the areas with droplets of blood when someone held my hand and said something like pictures and evidence. I was ordered to get spirit and bandage from the bedroom by my brothers since my father had already blacked out on his bed . I stayed up all night watching my mother’s bed that night with a metallic torch in hand in case that man tried anything.
The case was taken to police and my father was jailed for some hours till my mother got him out because we needed money for food. The policemen and people of authority blamed her for not doing her duties as a woman properly because she chose to sleep on a different bed from my father. And continued by saying that even if he vomited all the alcohol on the bed, she was supposed to stay for better for worse and wash the bedsheets in the morning.
And from that day on , I vowed to always fight against “a woman’s place”. I’m proud to be a feminist.