She was barely 6 when she saw her kindergaten going sibling being beaten up by Dad for having lost her golden earbobs at school. She doesn't remember doing anything other than crying out loud.
Golden ear-rings are very valuable. Not to be lost. That's the lesson she learned that day.
She was 9 when she saw Dad getting mad at Mom. Mom tried to reason. She was beaten up more. That evening before he stepped out, he warned that if he comes back to see any of them home, he will kill them all. Mom wept till there were no more tears.
She was petrified. She begged and pleaded with Mom to go to their grandmothers place. She didn't want her family dead. A few days later, Dad came to take them home. The first time she had a heart-to-heart talk with Dad.. The first time she saw him cry. He said he was about to kill himself that day, when he didn't find them home. But he didn't.. just for them kids. She felt guilty that day, to have coaxed Mom to leave home.
Hell or Heaven, you just can't run away from Home, no matter what, 'coz the consequences could be worse. That was her lesson learnt.
She was 12 when Dad threw them out of Home in the middle of the night, after another frightful show of rage. Sitting outside the door, she wanted to cry out loud, but wouldn't as she didn't want the neighbours to know about it too.
She leant, Whatever happens within the four walls of home, you need to keep it a secret.
She was 15 when she tried to hold his hands back, from punching Mom. She said "Don't you dare hurt my Mom anymore". He beat her up black and blue. That day she almost got stabbed by an iron rod.
Mom got mad at her too, later. She didn't want her daughter to end up with a broken arm or leg, because she has a long life to live and it would make it difficult if she gets crippled for life.
She learnt, she has to think of her safety, first. It's a long life ahead, afterall.
The next time it happened, she just cowered in her bed, beneath the sheets.. She prayed that it got over soon.. and when the noises would subside, she'll wonder how badly Mom could've got hurt..
She might have to be taken to the hospital?
Could she be possibly dead?
What would she tell the police, then?
Would she tell them the truth?
Will they then take away Dad too? or should she just lie? could she do that?
What if Dad then kills himself too? how will she live the life of an orphan, then?
"Why don't you leave him, Mom?" she would ask Mom. Mom said she's putting up with all this for the sake of them kids. The world isn't too kind to kids from broken families.. more so to girls.
Somewhere deep within, she felt a pang of guilt. "Mom's suffering all this because of us. If we weren't there, she could've lived a li'l more human life."
She was 18 when she tried to kick Mom and hit her, because she got angry with Mom for something. Mom told her: "You're growing up to become just like your Dad".
She learnt what she has got in inheritance, without even realising it. She did everything in her powers to get rid of her bad temper.
She was 21 when she raised her voice to stop Dad from hurting Mom. She was told to stay away from his family matters. It's his Home, he'll do what he wants, he said.
That day, she learnt that her Home wasn't quite 'her' Home.
She was 24 when he came charging towards her to hit her for not listening to him. He slapped her across her face. The whole world was swinging in front of her eyes, before she could try and hold his hands back. You don't quite manage to strike the right balance to stand straight when the world swings around you, do you? By then, the next blow would land on the other side of her face. And the next, and the next..
She learnt that there's only one way to live in a world that doesn't swing. And that's to create a world of her own. Far, as far away as possible, from this unstable world. Which she did, eventually. Somewhere deep inside she knew she was running away, but then, running away is better than fighting a lost fight, right?
At 27, she could never have a steady relationship, and always blamed herself for sending out some jinxed vibes which always attracted the wrong kind of people.. the ones who broke her trust, her heart and crushed her spirit, in their own ways.
At 30, she got a call from home, in the middle of the night. It was Dad, who called up to let her know how Mom didn't obey him and did something which drove him mad. She talked to Mom, who was sobbing and mumbling incoherently. "He woke me up in the middle of the night and started hitting me. I don't know what's happening". Dad took up the phone and told her that he's going to teach Mom a lesson. He's going to throw her out. or else, kill himself. "Only then she'll learn her lesson", he said.. She begged him not to. And prayed the whole night to God, to send his angels around her family and keep everyone safe. Her mind raced back to all those fears which were rooted in her heart since childhood.
How badly is she hurt? Her body wouldn't be able to stand all this abuse at this age..
Will he kill her?
Will he kill her and then kill himself?
How will I deal with it?
Will he throw her away?
Where will she go in the night, then?
Should I go home?
Mom went through all this for me. She doesn't deserve to be put through all this for my sake anymore..
She knew her mind was working insane. She wondered whether she'd ever feel normal again?
And then she decided, she's never going to live in fear.. If something goes wrong, she'll face it when that comes.. She's not going to die another thousand deaths in the fear of one. She had made up her mind.
What would she do to see an end to her misery?
Your guess is as good as mine.
True, you wouldn't want to ring the bells and have the offender and the sufferer, both blame you for intervening in their personal matter. Just give a thought to those tiny souls inside who are terrorised to death. They'd sure thank you for atleast bringing a pause to their misery.
Just like anyone of us, even I'm skeptical whether ringing a bell would really bring domestic violence to a screeching halt. It probably wouldn't. But it can surely help curb it. You wouldn't want to talk to them? Then Don't. Just ring the bell and go away. Keep ringing the bell everytime it happens. Being passive about it is as good as encouraging it.
What can we do to ensure that this doesn't become a way of life and gets passed down to the next generation? Make sure that our kids are taught that it's the most cowardly thing to do. For that, we need to set them good examples.. by not indulging in Domestic violence, not suffering it in silence, and by being there to rescue the hapless souls who're subject to it.
Do watch this video - How come, How long?.. A very deep video on Deomestic Violence. If you are one of those people like me, who has ever tried to increase the Television volume, so that the disturbing noises of verbal and physical abuse from the apartment nextdoor wouldn't reach your ears, then this would definitely touch your hearts.
Home is the safest place we have on Earth. No one deserves to live a scared life in their Homes.
You would ring the bell, won't you?
[Cross-posted here at Bellbajao.org for their blogging event on International Women's day]
ps: okay, I know it's been too many video links from this single post.. but I HAVE TO, HAVE TO put up this very inspirational long-forgotten song which I bumped into, today.. An ode to all the women I know who had it in them to break those shackles which bound them away from life.
Happy Women's Day!!