Don’t look at my face!
Here, see what I forgave you for, instead!
Don’t, don’t do that
-don’t look into my eyes
It’s just something I threw on
Oh, it’s just a good light
Yes, last night was wonderful
You fell asleep on me, but hey-
At least you had fun!
That’s what matters, right?
It’s okay, these things happen
What’s that, you need space?
Oh yes, I’d love to shop for your boss
It’s just a few miles out of my way
Haha, yes, you’re just friendly
I understand perfectly if
you want to gift her lingerie
Sure, I need no guarantees
I’m not going anywhere
So kind, I know, so sweet, I know
I put everyone at ease
Because ‘ugly girls have good
Paper bags for our heads,
from the groceries
covering the lease
Ignoring the intent
Is what we deal in, instead of
That’s the only trade we know
So that’s the commerce we expect
-and know of no other.
You can see black and white
when you’re taught that
You’re ugly in color
Ugly With Colors.
It’s not the first time I’ve heard this ‘ugly girls have good personalities’ thing, but doesn’t make it any less painful.
Or, as my father puts it, at least you have no reason to waste time in front of a mirror.
Maybe. Or maybe that’s because that’s not the reflection that matters to me.
Why are men strong?
Is it because they are providers
Or just poachers?
Is it because they can
Stand up and hit us
Because we lack the girth
To deal the damage back
Because it’s easy to hurt
Someone who can’t attack
Someone who will easily bend
Avoid the pain
But some of us
And then you feel like
You must crush us
Men are strong
And a woman who won’t listen can
Be showed, thoroughly
That she is wrong
A man who must rely on
The strength of his arms
To show a woman how strong he is
May not be meek
But the defeat is not for the beaten
Because he is already
Wax work, soft
imitation of life
Posed on a pedestal
Paused with infinitesimal
Every inch measured
Every vein contoured
To be frozen, decorational,
You left me
To be lifeless all day
Almost real to touch, they sing
Who would’ve thought such a thing
-so real, just see
But I stay mute, expressionless, on the floor
Till they fall into little deaths of sleep, at
Half past four
In that stillness
Don’t wait for the night, to come to life. These days are no one’s but yours…
I barely know where to start.
I’ve been on the fence about starting my book for so long. There have been at least fifty false starts and immediate cancellations. I’ve been writing anonymously for four years now. I feel an almost physical need to shed this veil now.
So much to write. So much to say. So much to record and so many stories to tell. I wonder if I’m being a complete blockhead by leaving so much unsaid waiting for some elusive Happily-Ever-After. I haven’t stopped looking for my way out, but I wonder, am I making a mistake by waiting for the end of the road? The path promises to be long- why not start now?
It’s been weighing so heavily on my head these past few weeks, that I found myself consciously avoiding writing. Inspiration would strike and I’d hesitate to jot it down. Writing- my only real voice anymore- has almost become another failed dream.
But this is NOT a dream I’m willing to give up on. I will have this. It will be my vision and my revenge all rolled into one. There are stories that I’ve never been strong enough to share, people who need to be unmasked in some way before I die, otherwise the injustice of their lifelong farce would tie me to the ground. And, sadly enough, death is an altogether too likely fact I must consider. My existence is solely because of my anonymity. Were it to be known I had begun to speak, to leak these truths out… let’s just say, Cookie would suddenly stop posting altogether.
But that’s a risk I’m willing to take. This a story that I have to tell. Holding it in is eating me from the inside, especially now that I’ve become stronger, and I’ve begun to realise the weight I’ve been carrying. These sleepless nights and constant dull heartache are hypoxia, from holding my breath. I refuse to strange myself. I refuse to let something as trivial as death strangle me.
The ending can wait. I’ll know my ending when I get there. But even till I’m done, I have a story to tell, and I won’t deny myself the relief of telling it.
One day when I was fourteen, my dad came home after a long trip. He unpacked his things and went to take a shower, but burst out less than five minutes after going into the bathroom.
Someone had left a soap wrapper in the bathroom shelf.
In retrospect, it could only have been the maid. There was no reason for anyone else to take a bar of laundry soap out, she was the only one who laid hands on that thing. But she immediately denied having forgotten to throw it away. That left mom, me, and the younger two. One of us must be ruled guilty. One of us, would have to be punished.
It wasn’t mum, dad was clear on that. The main suspect was me, but I was vehemently insistent that I didn’t do it. My brother was eight, my sister six. One of us was lying. One of us simply had to be punished.
To help us confess, we weren’t given any food for three days.
It was summer vacations, we didn’t have to go to school. He told mom straight up that if she fed us in his absence, or if she snuck us food, he’d divorce her and kick her out in a blink. We couldn’t sneak any food since we couldn’t leave the house. We sat at the table at every meal, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, to watch, not to eat, till the person guilty of leaving the soap wrapper in the shelf confessed. He ate, and we watched. We watched for three days.
Then my six year old sister ‘confessed’, because she was hungry. I’d tried to make the ‘confession’ on the second day, but he didn’t buy it. I wasn’t as good a liar then, I didn’t know how to make it convincing. My sister was young enough that he didn’t know the difference.
On the third day, we were allowed food again. My father was triumphant. He’d caught the liar- “See? That’s all it took. They just needed to be taught a lesson.” We didn’t care. We were hungry.
I’m not a child anymore. None of us are. It has been almost twelve years to that day, to those days. But there are still nights when these things that happened, these half forgotten fears, they reign supreme. They come back with a ravaging force to eat away at whatever self confidence I’ve scraped for myself. They laugh at me, at my supposed happiness and my contentment and my love, and I’m that fierce, lost child again.
But I’m not lost, and I’m not a child. And I love as fiercely as I used to be just fierce, back in those days. And when they come back, they are banished into the inebriated cover of sleep. And it’s 4 am now and the last glass has sunk in properly, but I’m a happy drunk in what began as a sad night.
And that’s why I love whiskey.
The Blood Price Of My Sanity
A lot of people who aren’t entire familiar with my situation, ask me why I don’t ‘do’ something about my father. I’m old enough to move out, obviously qualified enough to find a job, any job that could pay some bills at the very least, and clearly unhappy with how my life is being run right now. Why don’t I move out? Why don’t I just call the authorities on him? Why don’t I take a stand, etc.- I wish I could, I really do. That’s not the kind of defeatist statement you often hear from victims who’ve been conditioned to ‘accept’ their suffering. It’s actual, near physical incapability to change how things are right now. And, as you can imagine, the lack of ways out only fuels my frustration, and in turn, my online venting.
I’m the oldest of my siblings. My mother and I initially lived in another country after my parents got married, and moved here to be with my father after his job became a permanent one. Even then my mother had begun to see that there was insanity in this man, but owing to the fact that he worked away for so much time in the early years of their marriage, she never learnt to read him well. She told me later that she was very wary of his mood swings right from the beginning. The only reason she moved to be with him was because she didn’t want to ask for a divorce right away without giving him a chance. She didn’t want me growing up without a father. Initially my father was still away for long periods of time, and she did the traditional Indian housewife bit with his abusive family, sucking it up for my sake. She planned on leaving him though- and then she got pregnant.
Me and my siblings all have different nationalities. This stems from a habit of my dad’s, effectively bullying my mother into traveling when she was expecting, and into having their kids all over the goddamn globe. While it just seems eccentric, the actual ramifications are much more serious- None of us have any rights where we live right now. We all have different passports, and as such, are living here legally dependent on my father. Which just reinforces his authority. We can’t move out, unless it’s to go back to our ‘native’ countries, which we can’t obviously. Those are complete unknowns.
That’s the legal side of things. Well, why don’t I call the cops on him? If there’s a man who’s so openly violent that the entire neighborhood knows when he has his fits, one of us should’ve reported him, right?
We tried. Didn’t work. What ended up happening was that he went berserk and started breaking things and whacking us with chairs and what not, and someone from the apartments across the street called the cops about something happening. When the solitary fellow arrived to check the place out, my mom decided to take a stand and showed him what he’d done to all three of us- the entire living room was upended anyway- and the policeman actually took my dad away.
For all of one hour. We hadn’t even finished recovering from the shock of all this happening (at fourteen, I was the oldest of the kids, the youngest was six, and my mom was pretty battered). We were trying to make sense of what just happened and what the consequences of this step could be, when he walked right back into the house. As it turns out, cops don’t bother keeping influential people wih deep pockets locked p for very long. He kicked us out of the house and locked the gate, and we stood there shivering till one of his friends who lives down the street came down and took us in for the night. Next morning, he went down to talk to my dad, and my dad came and took us all home, and joking and jovial, like nothing happened. It’s not a solitary incident. Similar things have happened, and transparently enough for us to see that there’s no point in expecting anyone to come to our rescue. No one believed us for the longest time. Outside the house, he’s an upstanding citizen, a pillar of the community. Very wealthy, and he spreads the money around generously enough to keep everyone’s mouths shut. The not as financially secure of his friends don’t mind sucking up to him in return for the considerable benefits. The secure ones.. aren’t too bothered anyway. His best friends are actually good people, and both of them tried several times to show him what he’s doing is wrong. In response, he shut them out his life completely. Eventually they realized that the most they can do for us is to smuggle us goodies now and then, or force his hand into planning dinners and what not.
But that’s the most they can do. And I am eternally grateful to them for the fact that they even tried. In a lifetime of knowing sycophants and hypocrites, people who lied barefacedly to win his approval, at least they tried to make us happy.
I could just walk out. Live with a friend, do odd jobs that’ll keep me under the radar- but what will my future be? And fuck my future. What’ll happen to my younger siblings after I take such a drastic step? If he’s bad now, he’ll get worse. If I’m not there, there will be no one to protect my mother and siblings from him. Because she’s an emotional wreck, and they’re just kids. I had my mother around to teach me how to be a person. The only reason me and siblings turned out sane and not like him is because we had our mother to show us what unconquerable will and iron resolve are. And not just weather, to flourish too. She brought us up to excel in our studies, to be creative, to paint and draw and express ourselves in whatever medium we chose. More importantly, she impressed upon us morals and ethics, the vaue of being a God fearing person, of loving unconditionally. I will not hesitate to say that all of us have grown up to be good people. We’re not saints. We do incredibly stupid stuff, we fight, we squabble. I get drunk more often that I should, I’m a bit of a drama queen inside my head, I get emotional about irrational things sometimes, and I’m deeply mistrustful of people unless they prove that I can trust them. My siblings have their vices too. But we love. And we forgive. And we go out of our way to make sure no one is hurting- because we know too well what its like to hurt when no one cares.
I couldn’t leave them behind even it meant a gallop into a glorious sunset for me. Not unless I have a way of taking them with me.
But things are changing. It petrifies my father that we’ve grown up, and we can take a stand and tell him that he’s being illogical, or that he’s not making sense. He can’t use the ‘I’m your father’ declaration anymore. Nor can he misuse religion to enforce wacky rules on us, because we know our religion well enough to tell him when he’s out of line. The fact that we have a spine, a voice, is getting to him like nothing has in a long time. And he can’t do anything about the fact that we’re growing older, can he? When we go out or go places, we run into acquaintances, or friends’ parents, etc. who regale him with stories about how nice we are or well mannered- it bothers him. At parties, even his friends talk to us like equals, or ask our opinion on things, or in my case, ask for medical advice, etc. Ohhh it bothers him so bad that he quite literally changes color on the stop. A few weeks ago at a party a random uncle was giving me a long, loooong update on his UTI, and the entire time my father kept interrupting him, or offering inane bits of advice, which my uncle was ignoring and still addressing me. He literally couldn’t bear me being the center of attention, and actually told my uncle to stop talking to me. Like, ‘how much will you tell her, she has no experience, she knows nothing. Come, I’ll give you a urologist friend’s number’. I haven’t seen him that discomfited so long, it was downright hilarious.
And that’s what bothers me. The fact that I’m reduced to being happy when he’s unhappy, or delighting in his odd misfortune. This streak of petty viciousness is toxic, and while no one else’s suffering could make me happy, I quite honestly want him to die a long and protracted, painful death- I’m afraid of turning into that person. Not everything is working against us. True, I’ve had to pay the blood price of my sanity for having a modicum of peace in this house, but I’m hopeful that it will be worth it. A number of my cousins have advised me to take the easy way out, get married and move out. Nuh uh, never gonna happen. I’m not going to put another man in charge of my happiness. It’s not that I don’t know any good men. I know exceptional men, and I’m in love with an exceptional man too. But he doesn’t want to get married, and I’m fine with that. In any case, I’m pretty sure my father won’t be able to stomach the idea of me getting a happy-ever-after away from his iron fist. He already practically breaks out in hives when people compliment me, or ask about my future plans.
But we’re growing, and life cannot be stopped. Progress cannot be stopped. A will cannot be stopped. Initially when I started writing about my problems, I felt ashamed of seeking solace from strangers. It felt like weakness. But the love and outpouring of comfort and blessings I’ve received over the years, from places I didn’t even know on the map… has been overwhelming. There are people in my world, in my online family, who are like little nimbuses of light scattered all over. I have friends who are fucking brilliant, witty, and amazing people. Fate brought me face to face with my best friends in ways that are right out of fairy tales. Like my soul sister, who added me because she her browser got stuck while she read one of my poems in a random poetry group. That’s literally how we discovered each other. And she’s one of the most precious people in my life now. Another friend who I lost years ago, found one of my anonymous posts on twitter, and thought it sounded suspiciously like me. And that’s how I was reunited from a friend from another lifetime. And it’s not like my real life is loveless. My family, not my father, but my family, loves me fiercely. The man I love has practically taught me what love is, and how it has to begin from loving myself. I am not the person I was before I met him. I don’t think I could have lived being that weak, self hating creature for very long. How to center myself, how to expand my mind, how to let bad things go, how to let bad people go. How to keep walking. More importantly, how to save your smiles inside your head when the world is hell bent on watching you cry. And to cry when you have to- tears are a good thing, too.
I’ve been cursed with a strange life. I’ve also been blessed with an inordinate amount of love.
Sustained, systematic abuse strips away at a person. A soul can be whittled down to bone. I’ve seen it, I’ve sat through it. I’ve watched my mother take more than her fair share for years, and now I suppose I’m doing the same. But I’m going to make damned well sure this cycle breaks before it crosses me. And if that’s at the blood price of my sanity, so be it.
Love and light,