Being away and getting different life experiences has given me a new perspective on a lot of things. I got back to school three weeks ago and I’ve been so swarmed ever since. I am up early every single day. I sleep late. I sit at my desk studying into the wee hours of the morning. However, I am not the stereotypical book worm. Somehow, I still find time to watch every single “Game of Thrones” and “Devious Maids” episode, read Greek mythology and the occasional free books I download onto my Kindle, visit family, have long conversations with friends,listen to music, cook, text incessantly(my mother calls it the young people’s disease!) 🙂 make long phone calls and do all the things that I love to do.
In my absence, my cousin Sheila graduated from the bar course. She is now a certified advocate. Congratulations sis! Thanks for leaving such huge shoes for the rest of us to fill! You’ve set the bar too high! I don’t think I can pull off a high jump at this point.
My brother Jordan is also at law school. Recently, he got offered a clerkship and so he is an Associate at a law firm. I keep telling him that he reminds me of Harold, the Associate that Louis Litt picks on in “Suits.” 🙂 Hopefully next year he will be a practicing advocate too.
(I still don’t see how I would ever wear suits every single day of my life! That’s if I’d even manage to pass the classes at law school anyway! Props to all advocates and legal personnel!). One lawyer in the family, another in the making; I have lee-way to commit unbelievable crimes now!
Almost two hours ago, as I sat huddled on my bed typing out this blog post, I heard a scuffle outside my window. Bothered and curious, I put the laptop down and slid open the window to peek out. There was a female form hunched on the neighbor’s veranda yelling. I could tell it was a woman because her long braids spread out onto the dusty cement. Frightened, I called out and asked what was wrong. A male figure hidden in the shadows of the neighbor’s house promptly turned at the sound of my voice and answered in the local Luganda dialect, “Fa ku mudala gwo” loosely translated as “mind your own business.” The lady screamed all the more. Now wailing, her sobs rocked her frail body as she loudly asked the man, “Charles, lwaki onkuba? Lwaki onkuba banange?” meaning; “Charles, why are you beating me?”
I now understood what was going on. It was a family squabble. An altercation. The man dragged the lady on the ground. She raised up her head and I saw her face. It was the neighbor lady. The jolly 30- something year-old young woman with two little children. I often say hello to them in the morning. Usually, she is also walking her little ones to the primary school they attend. She turned her face to my window as her husband dragged her in the dirt. Her eyes were puffy from all the crying and red with fear; her only plea; “Munyambe!” (help me!), whispered in a faint voice. The man slapped her across the face and hurled obscenities at her saying in Luganda that nobody was going to come out of their house to help a stupid goat like her. Hearing and seeing this fracas left me shell-shocked. I was enraged that this man had turned his wife into a punching bag.
It was almost 11 p.m and I was dressed in my pajamas. I got my sweater and slippers on and walked out of my room. No body else in the neighborhood was responding to this emergency. The woman’s screams were getting louder and louder as her husband thumped her with blow after blow. I would not watch this woman get beaten to death and pretend as if nothing was going on. I switched on the flashlight I had with me and went to find the LC1 Chairman(the community’s voice of reason). I came back with him and a few other elderly people, proceeded to the neighbor’s house and he stopped the fight. I’ve left him and the other concerned residents with the warring couple to try and resolve whatever issues are causing them to fight.
It is almost 1 a.m now. I have sat down to try and comprehend what just happened. I hate violence. I am livid that this man had the audacity to beat his wife and to tell her she is worthless(Then why did you marry her?) I am baffled! Why do we sit idly and watch as people are being mistreated? Why did all the other neighbors remain comfortably hidden within the confines of their homes as a woman was being pummeled to near death? Is it because she is a woman? Would they have come out to rescue a man instead? Why are people hypocrites; smiling with this lady during the day and refusing to come to her aid in her time of need? Why does my community condone domestic violence(because their inaction makes it seem as if they do!)? Why do we let women sink into an abyss of despair, hopelessness and depression? Why don’t we give women a forum to voice their problems(without having to sit in front of a gazillion aunts, uncles and clan members to explain your marital woes)? Why does our culture make women feel too ashamed to leave marriages when they are being beaten to near death? I am worried about the neighbor lady and all the other women in abusive relationships that I do not know of. One of my favourite authors, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie sums up my frustrations about our African community in this statement:
“We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise, you would threaten the man. Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important. Now marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support but why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same?”
― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I do not have anything to give the battered lady. Only prayers; prayers to sustain her. Tonight, I will sleep content because even though I was too afraid to physically stop the fight between a husband and wife embroiled in a bitter battle, I went and got somebody who could. I have no idea why this couple fought. I’ve never heard them fight or argue before( I am always at school so I’d probably never know anyway!). I am ashamed of my other neighbors; ducking in the comfort of their houses as a human being was being robbed of her dignity. This, I will find hard to forget. I am a coward in so many situations but I will not watch as someone threatens another’s life.
This has given me a new outlook on life. I am definitely not in the Communications field by accident. The more I see things like this, the more I am led to believe that my pen and my words have the capacity to bring change. Maybe this post will give the other people in my neighborhood a different outlook on domestic violence. I certainly hope it will let them realize how horrible it is. I also hope that maybe one day, my cousin Sheila(who is now an advocate), will take on cases like this. And that Jordan, my brother in law school who aspires to be a human rights activist, will champion this cause.
I downloaded from a friend’s Facebook wall a graphic that I feel is certainly befitting this situation.
“I have no right to say or do anything that diminishes a man in his own eyes. What matters is not what I think of him but what he thinks of himself. Hurting a man in his dignity is a crime.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Say no to abuse(of whatever form). I pray by the mercies of God that I will never engage in abuse or demean anyone. It is such a cruel thing to tear a man’s spirit down. If you’re in an abusive relationship, get help from your family, friends, church, mosque, work place- wherever you can get it from. Your life is important.Don’t wait until it’s too late.Don’t wait to be killed.