Where does love end and where does hatred begin?

Date: November 27, 2012
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I nearly lost myself in trying to find the answer to this question. He looked good. Almost as handsome as when we first met. I was barely twenty and now I am not yet thirty. Lying there on the bier, his head completely dressed in bandage from the post-mortem, he looked like the bridegroom who wed me ten years ago. The memories stung my eyes and tears poured out.

He had a smirk on his face. It was almost as though he was enjoying some private joke. Looking at him lying there on the bier, I felt anger and resentment well up inside me. He was gone at such a young age because of such a stupid reason. What a waste. If only Robin had listened.

But Robin had never listened. Not when my family warned him off drinks repeatedly. Nor when, sick of being beaten and abused, I slit my wrist open. He could not even heed the doctors’ instruction to stop takingthe deadly nectar. Now that he is gone, I feel a weird sense of relief wash over me even as grief tightens its grip around my heart.

Torn between tears and laughter, I sat there stunned, with eyes riveted on my husband’s corpse and ears deaf to all the moaning and weeping going around. Unbidden, the heart-breaking memories from last year flood in as though it happened yesterday. I touched my jaw reflexively.

I remember waking up at the hospital with a swollen face. My teeth held together with some kind of wiring. My head wanted to burst from the thudding pain. I had a broken jaw, the doctor told me. My teeth were all loose from the blow I had received. He wanted to know how it all happened. Once, I would have lied and assured him that I had had a bad fall. This time, I threw caution to the winds and told him the truth.

I had been beaten up by my younger brother- in- law, a burly man who lives next door to me. He was unhappy about a guest we were entertaining that night and had started an argument about it, demanding that we show her the door. My husband was too drunk to tell his brother to mind his own business. Besides, he was no match for the younger man. So I spoke up. And when he tried to drag our guest out of our house, I tried to push him away. But then, he shoved me down and kicked me all over, including my face.

After two days in hospital, I was free to go home. Robin never came to pick me up. I had neither proper clothing nor a single cent on me. How would I go home? He was not picking up my calls. I later learned that this was because he had passed out from drinking too much.

Tears stung at the back of my eyes as I watched my old mother walk in the ward at visitor’s time. She had been the only one visiting me at the hospital. She took me to her place and nursed me like a baby. She would feed me soup with a straw since I was unable to eat.

Encouraged by my family, I decided never to go back. This was one time too many. Robin was such a loving husband when he was sober. But I couldn’t remember the last time when he was off drinks! When drunk, he would insult me. He would get physical and the next day, he would go out of his way to show contrition.

I tried everything possible to keep peace in my home. I became his drinking buddy. I gave in to all his whims and demands. I even distanced myself from my parents whom he resented and disliked. He didn’t like my going anywhere on my own. I ended up becoming a recluse. But nothing was ever quite enough for Robin.

And now, he was too much of a sick alcoholic to be able to work. We would go weeks without proper meals. The utilities disconnected us due to unpaid bills. As he got sicker and weaker, my in-laws became more and more interfering. And this time, when his brother would have beaten me to death had he had his own way, my husband was not even fit to protect me… Why indeed should I stay married to him?

Eventually, Robin started insisting that I come back home. My mother set her foot down but he would keep nagging on the phone. When I eventually gave in, I learned that he had acted under pressure from his parents. They wanted to persuade me to drop charges against my brother in-law. I eventually did that. Though part of me despised my husband for choosing to side with them, I still loved him.

And now he is gone, leaving me totally unprepared to fend for myself. It is funny how a slave can grow to love his torturer. Freedom suddenly seems very scary.

*Not her real name.
This story is a personal account and has also been used in War@HomeGender Based Violence Indicators Study Mauritius Country Report by Gender Links.


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