A deafening silence, a
footstep heard climbing the staircase. A slight, almost unheard, gasp of
breathe is inhaled. Fear looms in the air, mysterious and deadly. A mind
shrouded with deep secrecy, tries to find a way to impede the assault ahead. Prayers
uttered with utmost intensity, frightful glimpse of the barricade between, as a
sign of defense and assurance. Heavy sighs and drunken ‘hics’ heard from the
opposite side, giving imminent abuse and insults to be impelled out of anger. A
deafening darkness offers no solace and little comfort from being sighted by
the perpetrator. Memorized verses repeated in ardent favor but only rendering
little respite. A heart relieved at the residing footsteps down the hallway,
and thankful prayers given in whispered tones, for a night duly spared.

A mother fabled for good and perfect wifely,
suddenly becomes a shell of her former self, shunning anything that prompts a
social setting. Kin and peers try but to no avail; no one knows but her. She’s
forced to apply make-up onto bruised and battered skin, hiding darkened marks
and a shattered soul, to attend public settings. She’s read about others in the
same predicament as hers, but never thought they’d be so many. Reiterated
queries of, “Is it my fault?” “Do I deserve this?” “What did I do wrong?” nag
her mind with each passing day. Is there no end to her suffering?

A beautiful child bursts into tears each time ‘ati nani’ appears. Not
understanding the outbursts, mummy accepts the perpetrators answers, s/he’s
seeking attention. As young as s/he is, s/he knows 
what he is doing is wrong because mummy said so. And not
knowing how to react, retaliate and respond, s/he clams up and acts like it’s
happening to someone else. How could someone s/he loves and respect violate
her/his innocence? And fear of upsetting the balance at home shuts her/him up.
But when she finds the courage to open up and confide in the person s/he
trusts, mummy, the situation is handled and settled within the family. What
happened to loving me, looking out for my best interests, protecting me and
charting a bright future for me? I’m I not more your favorite child? The one
who obeys and does what you want? Do you hate me? Why did you watch and let
this happen to me?

Teenage crushes and puppy-love exploits become foul play when the icon of your
dreams, turns into a vicious beast. Going to parties with fellow female friends
becomes a thing of the past. School-work loses meaning and a well planned and
formulated future becomes a foregone illusion. Did I really sleep with him or
was I raped? Did I have that much to drink or was my drink spiked? Am I as
beautiful or as ugly as he says? Is he the ONLY boy that will ever love me? Am
I not special? Why don’t my parents understand my anymore, can’t they see it
from my eyes? Don’t I mean anything to anyone? Are there others like me or am I
just alone?

Efforts misplaced, youthful energy misused,
beautiful and bright ideas trampled on at my expense. A beautiful future fading
in the background, homes destroyed and brought down in shambles by calculated
and manipulative habitual indulgence of bad traits and addictions. An intuitive
academic excellence a foregone pursuit, long forgotten beautiful memories
flushing before our eyes of glories past, the only reminder that we’re still
alive and breathing and still a human being. What is the world coming to? Is
there no salvation for the hopeful survivors? Who is going to ease their hurt?

Think twice before placing judgment on
others, or thinking that you cannot do anything for others in need. it only
takes a little bit of kindness, love,personality and drive to achieve some
semblance of change. 

 Carol Mbinda
Alumni, Graduate