It seemed like just last night when I had dragged my body from the bedroom to the lounge, with a broken heart and some broken ribs. His mood swings from the perfect husband to the fiercest beast was what had brought us here. Us. I felt the tingle of a civilised stream of tears down my cheek as I realised how much I clung to my marriage vows. “Till death do us part” – that was the only sentence he echoed through his actions.
It was either I was going to die or he was going to die trying to kill me. I remember telling him that the scan had come in from the hospital and the child I was expecting was a girl and not a boy. It was custom that if it was the legitimate child of that family, the first child was to be a boy. When he stared at me, his shiny halo-white teeth all disappeared as his deep blue basset hound-like eyes turned lethal and more jet-back. I kissed everything goodbye, and that moment I thought it was my nose. How much I underestimated him.
On this fateful night, he was determined to rip the beast out of my womb, even if it meant it came at the cost of my life. On that cold Saturday night I said enough is enough, and decided that God would forgive me for calling the police. He was going to kill me!
Stiff like the concrete walls, I stood closer to the door of the dimly lit waiting room. My bent over body exuded so much animosity but I was not here to make friends. I did not want people asking me why I was here, who was here and how he was here. It looked like I had underestimated the weather today.
My boots and leather jacket seemed to not offer any warmth from the coldness I knew came from within. There was a sudden breeze blowing from the huge steel door, carrying the stench of the prison cells and gracefully washing me with the coldness that made my spine tremble and involuntarily clench my jaw. As much as these visits dug into my wounds, they were a necessary path to free myself of this torturous mental prison. This was the only way for me to attain that peace and serenity that could otherwise be achieved by death.
The sound of six-inch heels making contact with the wooden-tiled floor ripped me from my own safe world. It was a nagging sound, more like a hammer hitting a nail, throbbing the corners of my brain. There was something about the way she walked: like the way I walked into church. She walked featly as if it was a normal routine to visit a convicted person, her grey and thin body swerving to the beat of her own drum. She wore her anguish like a necklace of pearls, gracefully walking like she had mastered the art of having a clear brain. How could she even have so much composure? She casually greeted the prison guard and got the visitors’ card. I felt electrified as she sat next to me. I do not know what made me sit still when she was only a few centimetres from me. I had become so protective since he left and anyone who had gotten that close would have made me cringe. However, it felt normal letting her inside my invisible territorial bubble. Without caution, I lifted my eyes and we locked eyes. For the first time in a year, I felt like I was looking into a mirror. It was me staring at the zombie that always stared back at me every morning when I tried to conceal the ugly circles beneath my eyes. I saw myself in her; her eyes had that deepness, with magnetic irises than instantly drew me into their abyss. As I made eye contact with her, I noticed a certain pattern in her eyes, something close to gallifreyan circles.
A strong invisible chain drew me to her and I knew she was possibly the only person in this place who could understand how I felt. Oh how my soul yearned for a companion to lay its burden. She echoed my thoughts when she asked me what brought me here.
Tsitsi had her face softened as she listened to me spit the venom out of my blood. I did not feel the piercing stare that other audiences had given me when I shared how I had made my husband face a sentence of 15 years. Not only did we share the pain, but also the desire to cry out the tears we thought no one ever cared to pay attention to.
As soon as I sighed she found the courage to share her own tragic story. Matt, her husband, was a hardworking man who had locked and toned down his dark side by pursuing a medical degree.
As an anaesthetist, he found joy, almost close to delusion, in chemicals. His obsession never drew much attention until his patients started dying of acetaminophen and arsenic poisoning. His strong love for the acrid smell of chemicals had sent eight people to an early grave and Tsitsi to a futile land of torture to her mind, soul and spirit.
The officer by the registration desk glared at us. I guess it was unusual for two unrelated women to cry in the waiting shed. She looked at us, her stone features making her seem like the cruel matrons from boarding school. She was too young to have so much hate for tears. Tsitsi and I looked at one another over the invisible barricade, hearts breaking. It was at that moment that I felt a strong companionship. I was no longer on my own. She was the stranger I met on my way to healing, a pillar I knew I could lean on and a friend I trusted would relate to my pain.