My tears fell from my eyes and picked up momentum as they ran down my cheeks and disappeared into an unknown abyss below. I closed my eyes against the pain and pressed my fingers to my temples hoping to alleviate the pressure build up I felt there, but it was no good. Every time I closed my eyes all I saw were flash backs. Flash backs of what had happened days earlier; months earlier; years earlier. It was like a movie replaying over and over again stuck on a loop. A movie I no longer cared to watch or be reminded of: the movie of my life.
“nothing here is yours!” he snarled as he knocked my perfume bottles off the sideboard with one swipe of his arm. I stared aghast at my husband not quite comprehending what was happening.
“I paid for everything and I can take it back whenever I want!” his foot crashed down repeatedly upon the glass and I felt sick as I heard it crunch beneath his boot. He stormed out with a smirk on his face and I gazed down dismayed at the scene of chaos before me.
Beautiful ornate glass vials from Egypt, so delicately hand made were now obliterated from existence. Perfume bottles he had given me were now in one careless moment smashed to smithereens. My favourite scents lay amongst the wreckage: tea rose which made me less homesick as it reminded me of my mother; Cerruti which I wore when I first met my husband: Georgio Beverly Hills which was my absolute favourite. All gone now. I lowered myself to the ground with difficulty, holding my pregnant belly with one hand as if to support my baby and set about picking up the glass, not paying heed to the tears that fell among the shards.
I was brought back to the present by the wailing of my oldest child, still a baby in my eyes even though she was 16 months old. Her baby brother was now 4 months old; they had a completely different disposition. He was a happy baby and easy to care for but my little girl was always moody and distant. I reminded myself it was not her fault, she had been born into a family where her mum was frequently in tears and her father abusing her mother. What chance did the little one stand? Before she knew what was happening her little brother appeared in her life when she was only a year old and she had to share her mother’s attention with him. We had thankfully escaped that abusive home but now faced another crisis.
The flat I was renting was in an appaling state: it was a dark and dismal place to live. The living room faced the back of the property and it’s shape was unusual. This meant sufficient sunlight never entered the room and as a result the light always had to be on. I found this to be most depressing. It was a tiny one bed flat as this was all I could afford with what little money I had scraped together with my savings. The local council was taking a long time trying to sort out my benefits and at the moment I received only child benefit which I used to buy food. The bedroom was crammed full of boxes and baby furniture, it was a wonder he had let me have anything, but I supposed my three brothers might have been an influencing factor.
Unfortunately that’s where their support ended. None had been willing to take me in and support their heavily pregnant sister and baby neice and so I ended up in a refuge. After waiting months for the council to help me, I realised I couldn’t live like this and had therefore gone about securing my own flat. Unfortunately the only one I could afford with my meagre savings was one that was outdated and damp ridden which I quickly found out had a bug infestation. It had been an upward struggle; I had yet to unpack and the place felt worse than the refuge. I felt like I was going out of my mind with stress and agonising over an uncertain future. My soon to be ex-husband offered nothing in the way of child support. He had found a way to con the system and as of yet they could do nothing to get any money off him although the case was still ongoing.
What I had not accounted for was the crippling loneliness I felt; stuck in what felt like a prison, I craved human contact but had none. I tried taking the children out a lot but they seemed to despise the heat and cried often. The old pram I had was one that had two chairs together instead of a tandem. This made it both heavy and awkward to take into shops as many had narrow doorways. It was on one of these outings where I finally broke down and lost control of myself momentarily.
I was determined to not let my situation affect me and so decided to take the children for a picnic in the park. It was hot for June; hotter than it had been in years. The sun beat down on my black hijab and I could feel my face turning bright red; I could feel the heat on my skin and the sweat forming at the back of my neck. I hated the sun and hot weather. It was insufferable especially whilst being dressed head to toe in black. Had it been up to me, I would have stayed home but I wanted the children to get out of the confinement of the flat and hopefully have some fun. I packed everything and gently shushed my daughter who had started grizzling, trying to convince myself that all would be well.
The trouble started when we got to the park; I realised too late that my footwear was not appropriate; my feet were aching and I struggled to continue on against the pain. It was as if they were protesting against the oppression I was making them face – by not cooperating with my brain. My head had started to hurt because of the sun and probably too little water and my skin felt damp, clammy and itchy. I parked the pram under a tree still trying to ignore my daughter wailing; I thought she would be ok once she was out of the pram with a cool slice of Cucumber in her hand which was her favourite treat. It was no use; the wailing turned to screams until she went red in the face, her little fists balled up in her mouth. I had left at the wrong time: she wanted a nap and could only sleep in her bed with her favourite teddy in a darkened room.
Swallowing the sobs threatening to emanate from my throat, I quickly packed everything up and started back home. The baby by this time had woken and was also wailing. My head was pounding; the sun was too hot; the kids were wailing; I was exhausted and miserable and felt so alone: I snapped.
“SHUT UP BOTH OF YOU!” I screamed at the top of my lungs.
“WHY CAN’T YOU SHUT UP, I CANT TAKE ANYMORE!!” I looked towards the children hoping they could see the frustration in my face and the desperation in my voice. They did; they saw their mummy unhappy and scary and they stopped crying for all of 2 seconds then cried even louder. Their crying seemed to take on an urgency and I realised in horror that I had scared them.
“Oh no! No, no, no, Mummy’s sorry, please don’t cry babies. I’m sorry, I’m so sorry!” I sobbed as my words dissolved into crying. The guilt overwhelmed me and so did all the emotions I had been bottling up and I realised there and then that I needed help and support. I had turned into a monster before my very eyes and I hated who I was becoming…
Although this story is not real for me, it could very well be real for someone out there. It’s easy to judge people when we don’t know the pain and suffering they face. It’s easy to put them down and question their character. It’s easy to be negative. What’s hard is supporting them; being there for someone; trying to understand and be positive. Looking back at the past and analysing it is easy, but none of us know how we will react unless we are in that position. Maybe you have to hit rock bottom before you can climb back up. Wisdom is not knowing all about the laws of Islam, ahadith and ayaat; wisdom is knowing how to speak to someone and how to encourage someone to come onto the correct path. Please think before you speak and judge.