• Friday, February 27, 2015



Salma Mohammad Ali

It was a day like any other. My long black hair was in two symmetrical braids that fell to my hips. I was a carefree girl of thirteen passing by bright yellow mustard fields on my way home. It was only two years ago but it feels like a different lifetime.
I neared our hut and saw that my mother was waiting impatiently in the clearing. She was dressed in her special saree -- a mauve-coloured silk one. She grabbed my hand and we rushed home. A few guests were seated at the table: a man and two women. I'd never seen them before. The man, to my utter surprise, was my suitor.
The formalities did not take long and I was married within the month. I had begged and cried my eyes red, thrown tantrums and even threatened to drown myself in the river; anything to stop this but to no avail. My parents responded with a slap each time. They were happy that they had married me into a 'respectable' family. But the way I saw it they were happy to get rid of me; they had abandoned me by simply giving me away to a forty-something old man to do with me as he pleased.
One morning my husband asked for tea. I quickly made a cup, certain that he would shout at me if I took too long. I walked near him, handing him the cup. My hands were trembling and the cup was filled to the brim. I tried to steady myself but some tea fell out of the cup and onto his bare tummy. Looking down at the slightly scalded skin he flung the teacup across the room .The smashed pieces of china lay in a pool of dark brown liquid. He glared at me furrowing his brows and then my husband began to strike me over and over again, ending with a slap that brought a salty taste to my mouth. I felt the loose tooth with my tongue and ran out of the house. My eyes were overflowing with tears and blood trickled down the corner of my mouth.
The beatings were frequent but I clearly remember each one, no matter how hard I try to forget. I tried to run away numerous times but the monster always hunted me down, usually on the first day. But this time it was different. I knew this time he would not be able to drag me back. I had stayed with him for two whole years. I was a slave -- expected to obey his every word. But even a slave runs out of patience and sometimes a slave will do anything for her freedom. My hands hadn't even trembled when I drove the knife into his chest, he didn't even get a chance to beg for mercy. I realised I would have to hide because people would be looking for the killer. Would I have to spend my whole life running? Would I be labelled a murderer? I didn't care. It was a small price to pay for freedom.

Published: 12:00 am Thursday, March 13, 2014

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