“It’s a girl!” The nurse announced to the awaiting father and watched quietly as his expression turned into one of disappointment and she tried to look away, embarrassed when he asked her if she was sure.
Barging into the room where his wife was taking rest after the serious ordeal, he demanded an explanation as the woman looked on helplessly, unable to answer her unreasonable husband. Clutching the baby girl tightly in her arms, she looked at him defiantly, terrified of what his mind might be running at.
“How could you have done this to me?” He asked, looking at his wife angrily as if it were her fault.
Don’t worry, my precious Sara, the mother thought, ignoring his harsh words. I’ll protect you.
“You miserable woman!” Sara’s father boomed and she watched helplessly as her mother was kicked to the ground. It was a routine that she had begun to get used to in her ten years with her family. They were a house of eight and she had five siblings, all of them sisters, much to her father’s dismay. There wasn’t a day that went by without at least one of them getting beaten up.
She was distracted by the wails of her two youngest sisters as they got in their father’s way. She closed her eyes as she heard the lashes of his belt.
“Can’t even give me a boy, even after I’ve given you so many chances!” He bellowed, as his arms went on and on tirelessly.
Someday, she’d protect the women in her family, she decided. Someday.
“Six unmarried daughters!” Sara’s motherbegged as he took another swig off his bottle of alcohol and continued to ignore her. “Please, show some concern. Sara’s almost 21 now… Please!”
Pushing her away, he looked directly at Sara, the alcohol clouding both his judgement and his memory of her being his daughter. As one hand reached out to grab for her terrified soul, her mother lodged herself in between them both and sobbed bitterly.
“NO!” She said, weeping bitterly. “Not this. Anything but this.”
Sara began to cry as well, realizing the horror she was about to face.
“Oh, she’s 21! No one’s going to marry her now anyway.” He slobbered, grabbing Sara by her wrist and dragging her into his room.
Sara looked on at her mother, wailing bitterly as the sounds of their heart-breaking sorrow echoed through the bitter walls.
“Sara?!” The man shouted from across the bedroom. “Come here!”
She gulped in fear as she tip-toed into her bedroom and looked at her husband, buttoning his shirt.
“Where’s my box?”
Her eyes went wide in shock.
“But… You said you were eating outside today!”
He turned to face her, his eyes bulging out of their sockets.
“So you decided not to cook?” He asked, taking a step towards her.
Years of domestic abuse had her accustomed to the physical and sexual abuse. But nothing would ever prepare her for the mind-numbing fear that filled her soul every time the assault was about to begin.
As he raised his hand to hit her, she flinched, still getting used to the familiar hand across her cheek.
Life had become monotonous.
“I’m sorry for your loss,” They said, as she lowered her head and nodded.
In front of her, her father laid, his breath having left his strong body. Her mother stood by her side, devoid of tears for the man who tortured her entire life.
Sara tried to hold back the bitter words but they left her anyway, as she said out loud, “Good riddance!”
Her mother gasped and shook her head, cursing her daughter for thinking such things.
Two of her sisters looked at her, horrified, having grown accustomed to the way they were brought up, not allowed to say a word about the males of the community. Sara thought bitterly back to those early days of her life where she lost her three other sisters, one after the other, hardly a year apart. Two died of malnutrition from their married lives and one committed suicide, bringing ‘great relief’ to the family, as her father had said.
She walked away from the remaining bits of her family, back to her own sorrow filled home, where she herself was chided and beaten up for not being able to conceive.
That was a boon, she decided, not bringing another girl child into this terrible world.
No woman deserved this.
The world wasn’t ready.
In a garden that was supposed to be filled with the laughter of children and grandchildren, the flowers were beginning to wilt. Sara looked on at the once bare walls, now filled with photos of dead people.
Joining the list was her husband, who let her go the previous week, his parting words as selfish as his entire life as he took the golden opportunity to make her feel worthless for one last time. She sighed and sat in her rocking chair, entirely alone for the first time in her life. But did she enjoy it?
She now had more time to hate herself for letting all the people in her life step over her repeatedly.
Relaxing, without any fear left in her aching bones,she fell asleep in her chair.
It was time.
It finally was. Like her family, who’d all taken their chances to be with God in their sixties, she’d lived just enough. Looking back, there was nothing she saw that she cherished. No child of her own, no loving moment with her husband, not a single precious day with her father. Her mother had been her only saving grace and whatever precious few months she enjoyed her presence were wiped clean by the yearsshe was raped and molested by her own father.
As she closed her eyes for one last time, she smiled, hoping that no one would have to suffer the same life that she did.
With that thought, she breathed her last.
Somewhere, far away, a baby girl was welcomed into the world by her loving parents who wanted her more than anything else in the world.
The times were finally beginning to change.