I had never spoken to her before in my life. But when I did, she couldn’t hear anything I was saying. Love can be as deaf as it is blind and as blind as it is deaf. She couldn’t see the point I was making either. Because she was in love. In so deep she somehow couldn’t notice the dent it had made on her life.
“You don’t know me – don’t know us. So you don’t understand.” She had me know.
And she was right. I did not know her at all. Neither did I know her lover that well. But I knew he was my neighbour. Guy has been occupying the house above mine for about 6 months. He is the type of neighbour who you see as many times as you see an eclipse. Firstly, he leaves his house at exactly 5AM in the morning, and returns at exactly 11PM. Trust me I didn’t use ‘exactly’ by mistake. He’s like something that uses an algorithm, something resulting out of fat fingers pressing hard on a messy keyboard writing contorted lines they call code. Secondly, sometimes he goes away for months, then just like that, appears with this chic and they stay in his house for days without getting out. The only thing that gets out through the walls and windows are crazy noises. Unholy expressions of fornication that make parents cover the ears of their children as they push them to bed.
” I don’t even know why we are having this discussion. We barely know each other.” She said, in a bid to shoo me away.
But I still had questions and a desire to get their answers. See the few times I have seen her man, curiosity lingers even waaay after he’s disappeared. I know without a doubt that he is a person who is serious about what he does. Like for example, he keeps time all the time. He also loves being in black; a black suit that is well fitting, black oxford shoes, a black watch, black gloves, a black briefcase, drives a black Prius obviously with black tires, comes and leaves in the blackest of night – everything about him is black. Oh and yeah, his complexion is dark as well. He does not have a scar on his face and does not look like a serial killer. He also does not look like a psychopath. I can also confirm that all his eyes are human and further assure you that no part of his body (that is publicly visible) is missing. But there is something about the air around him that makes me tense. Something about him my intestines don’t seem to agree with.
“Why don’t you leave? Aren’t you in love with yourself? Can’t you see that you’re being hurt!” I attempt to show sense hoping she will listen. She hangs her head and starts whimpering. She is in pain.
Something tells me that her babe was waiting for all of us to fall asleep. Because some people wait for when others are asleep so that they can do things which they would otherwise not do when people are awake. Take for instance burglary; or mommy and daddy talking about whatever it is mommy and daddy talk about; or beating a wife. He waited for the the left hand and the right hand to strike the ungodly hour so that he could unleash his claws. There was no one to stop him; only himself.
Somewhere inside the hour of 2AM I am startled by loud banging. I lift myself from the pillows and tilt my head like a hen so that my ears can hear in much detail what the heck is going on. I could hear sobs of a person. A woman. Then, the bellow of a man thundered through the blackness of the night, at which point I sat up. My hair stood erect, my skin was filled with goosebumps, my tongue retracted and my mouth became dry. Every part of my body was listening. While he was shouting, his intonation changed as I heard him hit that woman once, twice, thrice, many times. She wasn’t screaming, per se, but she was taking it all in and audibly letting out pain. She could be heard trying to plead her case. Trying to calm the storm that was her man. She begged. She called him babe. Said “Sweetheart please.” She said she was sorry. She pleaded for mercy. But mad men are not charmed by words. Being the house on top of mine, I could hear heavy footsteps running across their floor. And bangs on walls. And metal and glass and ceramic and wood all crashing down – either as victims or participants of war.
Then there was quiet. Only the sounds of a crying woman. For about 2 minutes I thought it was over. Then a toilet was flashed! I think he had gone to pee – because when he came back, she was shouting “You are going to kill me!” And the he was shouting back “I will kill you!!” accompanied by words like bitch, whore, evil woman, devil and many other bad ones. Whatever it is that he was hitting her with was not cool. Because the next day when he was away and I sat with her on the staircase, her face was damn swollen. It had cuttings and black marks and war marks. You would think she had survived a bear attack. She looked bad. Like a flower that was given to an unwelcoming lover who threw it onto the streets, whereupon it was trampled on by an entire population. She looked like an old rag in a boys high school. She, was a million miles away from okay.
“I love him…[whimper]… He is my man. We have been through a lot together. We’ve come a long way. [Another whimper. She blows her nose]. He is frustrated by work and life. But he will be okay…” she explains amid a lot of emotion.
I am considering asking why he couldn’t just go beat up “work and life” instead, but then I quickly remember that when people are in love, some say to each other “you are my life”. Perhaps she is his life.
“…. I know he loves me. He’s only going through a difficult time.. [sobs]..” She assures herself in what seems to be a monologue.
At that point, I didn’t have anything to say to her. What can an inexperienced 21 year old possibly tell a 29 year old that the 29 year old will hear? Especially when it is about matters the heart. The only help I can think of is a hug, but then I don’t want her guy to smell another guy on her.
“If you need to talk, I am always downstairs….well… unless I am not..” I try to cheer her up.
They are not married. They are just a young ‘couple’ who love to go out and party hard together. The lady says she loves her man. She also affirms that despite all the violence, her man loves her. They haven’t fought again. Not even an argument. But I have also not heard any conversations going on in that house since that Friday night – and today is Thursday.
What keeps women in toxic relationships? Why don’t they ever leave in pursuit of greater peace? Why do men stay? How do they look at a woman they have beaten up and still remain sane?