“If the girl wants to learn, let her, my dear. Let the girl have an education.”
“Learn? Learn what, Mullah sahib?” Nana said sharply. “What is there to learn?” she snapped her eyes towards Mariam.
Mariam looked down at her hands.
“What’s the sense schooling a girl like you? It’s like shining a spittoon. And you’ll learn value in those schools. There is only one, only one skill a woman like you and me needs in life, and they don’t teach it in school. Look at me.”
“You should not speak like this to her, my child,” Mullah Faizaullah said.
“Look at me.”
“Only one skill. And it’s this: tahamul. Endure.”
“Endure what, Nana?”
“Oh, don’t you fret about that,” Nana said. “There won’t be any shortage of things.”
[Hosseini, A Thousand Splendid Suns]
Wasting. Crumbling like pastries.
Sarah stood in front of the mirror studying the angry bruises which decorated her face. She could hardly recognise herself from all that purple and blue business that was going on around her left eye and down her cheek. Her upper lip was swollen from his swinging punch. Her right ribs throbbed and she was could feel the bruises on her arms from where he had gripped her. Everything hurt. Even the slightest bit of movement couldn’t be done without her hissing in pain.
But nothing compared to the ache which had settled in her heart.
Her gaze ran from her forehead in the mirror down to her lips. She couldn’t believe they were the same lips which had spoken words of love to him, who had now destroyed her in the worst way possible. Tears suddenly stung the back of her eyes, as the pain and helplessness rose rapidly in her throat like a raging forest fire and exploded. The tears, mixed with sorrow and agony, frustration and weakness escaped from her sore eyes like a waterfall.
It was the salt last night. It had started off with the salt. There was too much of it in the cooking. And then it was the remote control for the telly. The kids had misplaced it. And now here she was after another horrific sleepless night of souvenir and scars. She didn’t bother to wipe away the tears and wetness that gathered beneath her eyes, she let them flow like she always did. Through the mirror she saw the window in her room. It was tightly shut. Her mother had said she should stay.
“It’s your home. You have to stay. Try to understand. Where will you go? Think of the kids?” she had said the last time Sarah had gone to visit her. The words made her angry, yet she was convinced that this was another dark tunnel she had to walk through. Walk through alone. This was another trial God was testing her with because He loved her. And with patience and strength she was going to pass it. Wasn’t she? There was pain but what could she do? Just hope and pray that his temper would go away. Night after night, she would clutch her hands to her chest, desperately praying to God to let the next day pass in ease, and the next one and the next one.
“Mama, why are you crying?”
She suddenly jerked away and swung round. Everything made her flinch now. She hated it. She turned to her six year old son, who stood in the door staring up at her with huge eyes filled with concern and worry.
“I’m not crying, sweetheart. Come here,” she said, quickly sniffing and wiping away the tears. She bent down and held out her weak arms for him. He slowly walked over and entered her embrace, resting his head on her shoulder.
“Why was…was Baba shouting?”
The innocent question made Sarah panic for a minute. She hesitated. Then gulped.
“He wasn’t very happy. But he will be now,”
“Why wasn’t Baba happy? Was it something we did? Did I do something wrong, mama?”
A fresh set of tears clogged her throat; she pressed her lips tightly together and squeezed her son closer to her chest.
And they scream. The worst things in life come free to us.
I have come across many women who struggle in their daily lives, whether it’s issue of domestic violence, unhappiness in a marriage or desperation for freedom. It’s a really sad state of affairs and each time I hear a story or witness the destruction of misery on a woman’s face, it leaves me with one big question.
Why do they stick around?
Because they can’t face the rest of the world with their sadness? Because they have become so accustomed to living like this that they treat it as normal? Despite all our advances and open minds we still live in a society where women suffer. And they believe that they have to suffer in silence, that this is a test of their patience. But who is forcing you to stick around? Is it the situation or is it you? Is it your mind set that stops you from reaching out and attaining what you thought was unattainable all along? I think for some women they actually believe that they must endure this suffering; whatever kind it is, because that is the way they must live. That’s life.
No it isn’t.
You can’t just hang around and wait for things to get better for you, because the truth is you’re going to be waiting forever and life doesn’t work that way. You need to stand up, push away the barriers, and wave goodbye to the pain and misery. Every day is not about a silent struggle and agonising acceptance; it’s about moving ahead, embracing yourself and believing that happiness resides inside you.
It is not an easy ride, but who said living was easy? It’s the giving up and hiding away that’s easy. Remember you don’t deserve this, no woman does.
– Rosaline Haleem Lifeo [Guest Post]
Title: A Team – by Ed Sheeran (here)