Thursday, 22 December 2016

The Saga Continues or #UseYourWords

A few years ago I used to live and work in Mombasa back when I was just starting out as a grunt in the pharmaceutical industry. I lived in a flat not far from Mombasa town, no furniture except mattresses on the floor, a few plastic chairs, a cooker and later, a fridge. You can't live in Mombasa without a fridge.
We had no TV so me and my son used to sit on the verandah in the evenings and count stars.
Good times.

Anyway so we had these neighbors...
Family of eight or thereabouts, father a retired civil servant, mother a house wife. five or so kids running the place.
So because I'm such a nice person, and I hadn't yet learned how to say no, the wife used to sometimes treat my house as if it was hers. And I became her de facto best friend.
She used to tell me stories about how her husband was this and that. And I just used to listen because it's something I'm good at and clearly she needed someone to listen to her.
So one night, really late, my son and the maid have gone to bed and she knocks on my door. Now I'm daddy and mummy, protector of my home etc and someone's knocking at 11pm at night. The door is not that sturdy. If it's thugs wanting to kick it down there's not much I can do except cover my son with my body and hope for the best.
Turned out to be my neighbor. Apparently her husband had beaten her up and thrown her out of the house. And she wanted to go report him to the cops. At 11pm in the night. And she wanted me to go with her.
Now I had work in the morning, I had my son alone with just the maid in the house. I had no car and neither did she. It was a risky proposition is what it was.
But the maid told me that they'd be fine, I should go and help the 'mama' next door. So I did. Luckily it was Mombasa and I think it was even during Ramadhan so the matatus ran late. We took public transport and went to the cops.
There was this guy at the front desk, he listened to us as the lady told her story. How it wasn't the first time he'd beaten her, how he threw her out of the house and she had nowhere to sleep...yada yada.
So after she finished, the guy is like, okay fine, you want us to arrest your husband yes? Say we do that, do you have another source of income? Who is going to buy your food? Pay your rent? How will you live?
And neighbor lady just caved.
She was like I take it all back. I don't want to report him.
She slept on my floor that night.
The next day she went back home.
And the cycle continued.

So I was out a good night's sleep, a visit to the cop station, paying the transport to boot and at the end of the day, nothing was achieved.
That was the first time I saw first hand the complexity that is domestic violence.
It's all power dynamics and need perception.
Why am I telling you all this you ask? What does it have to do with writing you say?
Well for one thing inspiration for stories comes from everywhere and it ties in with my various conversations I've had this week about Child of Destiny, Leo, Mya and the power dynamics of their situation. The power dynamics we barely want to acknowledge because somehow we think they'll just go away by themselves.
The trigger of course was the development of the +Blacc Chyna +Robert Kardashian situation where it 'emerges' (that word makes me laugh) that there might have been domestic violence involved.
And everyone gasps in faux shock and clutches their pearls.

Come on.
Anyone who has watched so much as a snippet of any Real Housewives show sees how much 'putting the paws' on someone is a legit option in an argument. Is it lack of Montessori schools? Were people not taught to use their words enough? I don't know. I just know that domestic violence is pretty widespread yet we all act like it's something new and shocking when  someone who experiences it is famous enough to make the news. We treat the perpetrators like some sort of outcasts when the reality is, they were just doing what 'everyone else' does.
Surely there must be another way.
What is the other way?
That is the question.
Think on it as you have a Merry Freaking Christmas!
And yes I didn't say 'happy holidays' because it's actually Christmas being celebrated this week, right? When I wish people a blessed Ramadan I don't say happy holidays either. I say Ramadan Mubarak. Let's not try to generalize what doesn't need it in an effort to hide from the real issues of discrimination that we do face huh?

No comments: