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The heart of a woman is strongest at struggle, she had heard, and she saw it for herself firsthand when her hands shook with fear but her other hand steadied it, on its own.
As a young wife, she had fallen in love with the way her husband built an empire from scratch. It was amazing to watch his muscles work in sync with the beating of his heart. More. More. More. As a mother, she had sworn to raise a daughter that her husband would be proud of someday. “A doctor, she’ll be”, he would say. She would save lives, she would heal people.
She was 7 when her father passed away.
Her life swooped in and out of her eyes as a dream, half in denial and half in trying to believe that he really did just go, leaving her and her mother forever and she wanted to believe there was an escape when she saw none.
By the time she was 20, she should’ve become the woman of the house, but she was far, far from it. Stuck in an eternal womb of disbelief, suspended in mid-air, right above real people and their real problems.
Her problems were not unreal, but she refused to see anything beyond the infantile paralysis of her un-moving thoughts. The death of her father at 7, had somehow brought on her psychological death too. She was 20 with the heart of a seven year old, still wishing, still hoping, there was an exit door lurking at the reach. Maybe her dad would pop in suddenly and it’d all be over. Make it stop, she’d tell herself as she bit the insides of her cheeks, drawing blood, trying to overwrite reality.
Her mother had long lost the lustre in her hair that her dad fell for, the sheen in the eyes and the will to carry on. But he had left behind a legacy and maybe, her mother thought, maybe that’d be worth living for, and so she did. The sagging muscles in her arms did not stop her from walking the extra mile, doing the extra bit of work to provide a roof above the head of her young daughter who refused to carry on. Maybe, she even did all the living for herself and her daughter combined. She owed that much. To her dead husband, she thought. So she did. Building each fragmented dream, piece by piece. The heart of a woman is strongest at struggle, she had heard, and she saw it for herself firsthand when her hands shook with fear but her other hand steadied it, on its own. She had turned down suitors after her husband’s death because there was no time: to rebuild the temple of her heart that was eternally ruined. Instead she built what could be seen. Her husband’s dream.
Her daughter hardly ever worked to make her father’s dream come true and so like always, the mother had to work for the daughter too, to make her husband’s dream a reality. Several bags of bribes later, a flawed-doctor metamorphosed into existence. Somehow, the child-woman / flawed-doctor fell in love. With another flawed human who seemed to be more in ruins than she was. Don’t fractured hearts fall for destroyed ones?
Hadn’t she been warned in many a stormy nights against falling for the wrong boys, the kind that’d ruin both your mascara and your lipstick, and finally leave your temple broken and too ruined to even rebuild it.
She had seen a good man destroy unwillingly, her mother, the only strong woman she knew.
But still, her tattered heart rebelled against her will, yelling, I want, I want, I want at his pools of amber eyes and sweet, empty promises of togethers at the sunsets.
She was pregnant before she knew it, but she was happy that he didn’t leave her at least. She was ready for even the most final of blows by now. She wanted the hurt, I think. She wanted to feel pain again and maybe she thought that’d bring the exit closer, maybe her father would pop in and declare this was all a farce. “Come child, let’s go back to your favourite playground. Let’s race down the garage. Come child, come. Come child.” But the child inside of her said otherwise. It felt real, for the first time. She could feel life, pulsing inside of her. Two hearts, beating together as one. Maybe if she pressed her palm closer to the child’s she could hear her father whisper: a blessing, a curse. Anything. But when she brought her hand close to her taut tummy, the life in her eyes ran out, again:
Bastard, bastard, bastard.
The child inside of her already responded to the sound of glass breaking at nights, liquor bottles crashing against the granite walls, the fights, the shuddering of a broken heart.
They say the mother slipped a pill, when the daughter wasn’t looking, they say the daughter herself wanted release, they say it was the final blow of her alcoholic husband, but the truth lurks under her baggy sleepless eyes.
The world cannot have even a fragment of it.
It was her secret. Hers to have and to hold and to hide.
Lies flow from her withered lips, that speak of her glorious profession, of saving lives. Her hands that wrap a loveless embrace around her abusive husband in public, begging the world to un-see their unhappiness and maybe, maybe rewrite their unhappily ever after.
Her dead child, runs as a bloodied mess in her mind, now and then. As a mass of destroyed cells, as a destroyed foetus, never as a child, and I guess that’s okay.
Her mother dreams for herself in her cocoon of her own now.
Her daughter builds tombs around herself, telling the world she’s okay, even ecstatic, telling the world she’s happy in love, happy with a man who’s not human at nights. Telling herself it’s okay.
The exit will come.
Maybe her dad would just flip the page and announce a farce.
Maybe he’d toss her tired body in the air, catch her before she fell, and take her to her favourite playground.
In all those dreams, she falls freely, with as much trust as a child that’s thrown into the sky, knowing she’ll land on big, safe, warm, hands.
And in those dreams, she knows, it’ll all be a farce in the end.
Image source: shutterstock
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Poet. Published Writer. Spoken Word Artist. Entrepreneur. Avid Reader. Amateur Boxer. Wannabe Motivational Speaker. Dog
Brilliantly vivid and subtle at the same time. I loved every word of it!
Write plenty more!
This stabbed the most- “Her daughter builds tombs around herself, telling the world she’s okay, even ecstatic, telling the world she’s happy in love, happy with a man who’s not human at nights”. Just brilliant!
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