After midnight I lay in my room which was adjacent to my parents’. My mother’s screams tore my little heart, I could not sleep. He roared like thunder and thrashed her. My heart bled in pain. He never smiled, I had grown to fear him and I could not understand the tantrums of this man who was my father.
Little did I know that this heart shredding incident marked our separation from him. Hours later, we were sent packing from that city home to my mother’s parents in the village. He said he had found new love, that mama was no longer beautiful, that as a girl child he found no value in me. He emphasized that I had to leave too. Despite his ruthlessness, I still loved him. But not even my little soul’s innocent love could make my father change his mind. Us staying by him was no longer an option. Mama was devastated.
The move meant a totally new life for my mother and I. I had to make new friends. It meant being subjected and standing to some daily ‘courts’ when I joined the other girls to collect water for the household chores from the river. They asked to be convincingly furnished with answers as to why we had come with big bags and why I was going to join them at their school. ‘Why are you moving away from the city life without your father?’ they asked. I stood up to all this boldly, though with a painful heart.
It meant rebuilding life under extreme hardships amidst poverty. Papa had been the breadwinner. For mama it meant standing tall in a society where divorced women are a subject of scorn and ridicule, are labeled prostitutes and are seen as a failure. Mama re-energized, stood up on her feet again. We toiled day and night to fend for life, to feed, to dress and for me to go to school. It meant being strong willed in a society where, in such hardships, the weaker women turn to prostitution or girls like me resort to early marriage before they are ripe. It meant rubbing each other’s wounds of pain and forgetting the scars that had come with it.
Time heals. My mother and I know fully well from our experience that, principled women who stand up to any obstacles they face in life, do make it.