It felt like i had been sleeping for a long while, only to be awakened by terrifying sounds. A man’s voice was shouting and I could hear cries of a woman and children. I tried covering my head with my pillow but the sounds would not go away. It was only during these particular nights that I would be consumed with fear. This was always the case when Chido’s father was at home. It’s always on days like this that I would ask myself when will the sun come out. I always thought like this because with the break of dawn came a new day, a new life, a new season, new sounds and new hope as I joyfully made my way to school.
On nights like these, Tendai, Chido’s older brother, would run to my home next door, bang on the windows and doors and my parents would quickly rush to stop the fighting. The following morning my class-mate Chido would always be quiet and sad. I did not know what she was thinking or how she was feeling but I am sure whatever it was I felt it with her. It couldn’t have been easy watching her mother being beaten now and again by her father. Sadly, this is the plight of many children and woman around the word.
Chido’s father was a soldier. He was a tall and strong man who always looked angry and wreaked of alcohol. I was afraid of him and the gun he always carried by his side and that fear slowly grew to hate. Her mum on the other hand was a sweet and warm woman who always smiled and sang whenever she was doing her work. Her skin was very light and it glowed with life. I noticed how free spirited she was whenever her husband was not at home. When I was a young girl, I always wondered why she had married such a mean man who treated her badly.
I grew accustomed to seeing her wounded face and swollen body. I did not understand much back then but deep down within me I knew that it was just so wrong. As I grew older, I noticed how the singing became less and how her smile faded away. Once in a while when she would speak to my mother, she would steal a smile. I noticed how her body deteriorated and saw her skin unusually darkening. I knew that she was not well and yet now that iv grown up and I understand things better I can say that despite it all, she stayed with the man who treated her so badly. But why would she?
Like many women, society spoke and said single mothers are not welcome here they will snatch our husbands. Relatives spoke and said if she left her husband or reported him to the police, she would have embarrassed the two families and thus she would be disowned by her own people. The church spoke and said it was not lawful for a woman to walk away from her marital home and abandon her matrimonial bed. But at what cost? At the cost of her life?
I imagine a world were man choose to protect women from bodily and emotional harm. A world were women are free to do what they want and express themselves for their well-being and growth as individuals. I imagine a world were the sun will come out on every woman and the girl child and were we no longer live in fear of our fathers, our brothers, our husbands or our partners. A world were we are respected and our views and thoughts count for something. This is the world we have been fighting for for many centuries. When will the sun come out for women and the girl child.
Like many other women before her, Chido’s mother was beaten to death by the man she loved. After realizing that he had killed her, he short himself and their two children. My friend survived to tell the tale but how many others have? Should I grow up afraid of one day getting married because I fear that my husband might kill me? How about my daughter? What future lies before her in a world were women experience such violence from the men who are supposed to protect, love and adore them?
Many women have lost their lives fighting for the freedom of women and girls in the future generations to come. For some, changes for the better have been seen. Laws have been enacted that protect them. However, for others, the sun has not yet come out. Their reality is defined by the tears they shed daily because of the losses they endure. Losses of the lives, their daughters and their dignity. Where are you men? Do you hear our cries? What do you have to say? How would you feel if Chido’s mother was your own mother, sister, or friend?
Whether there is stability or not in our countries, peace or war we still face harassment, we are assaulted and live with insecurities. We are raped, we are killed, we are beaten. Dear men! Is this the world you want your daughter to grow up in? It only takes one and two and three of you to create a safe space and environment for the woman and the girl child. We wait for our sun to come out. For centuries we have been waiting. We do not tire, neither do we lose hope. I see a world were one day, women and girls will blossom. We await a new dawn. Hopeful that this world we long for and dream of will become a reality. A world were every woman breathes peace. A world where the sun will come out for us.