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Domestic Violence: Lizzy’s Tale

by Shalini Kagal

Lizzy pressed herself against the wall. He must have caught the earlier bus home today. She could hear his key in the lock and she knew just what he’d do if he caught sight of her. With her little ones growing inside her, she wasn’t as fleet of foot anymore and it was becoming increasingly difficult for her to try and outwit or outrun him.

Maybe if she stayed quite still, he wouldn’t see her. Fat chance! He strode in, threw his salesman’s bag on the chair, yawned and stretched. He paused right in the middle of his stretch and came to life.

That was the effect she had on him every time he set eyes on her. A cruel gleam slowly grew, starting from the back of his eyes till it spread through his whole face, lighting it up. She could almost hear the words in his mind, ‘Let the games begin!

He slowly made his way to the fireplace and picked up the poker.  Staring at her, willing her not to move but to stay frozen, transfixed like a statue, he advanced slowly, poker in hand.

‘Why do men love violence so?’ she wondered. ‘This slob of a man who sits sprawled in front of the idiot box, gorging on unhealthy take-away food whenever he’s in the house – what right does he have to torment me the way he does, day after day?’

She was usually much better prepared. As soon as it was time for him to come home, she hid behind the curtain and stayed still, very still. Any little movement was enough to get him going. Last week, it had been that awful spray. She hadn’t been as ungainly last week so she had run as fast as her legs could carry her, eyes shut tight so she wouldn’t get blinded.

She hid herself behind the first door she could spot and after looking around a bit, he gave up and returned to his favorite couch potato pastime. This was his usual routine. He’d switch the TV on and watch the soccer replays and if there wasn’t anything that interested him, he would keep flipping channels. On the couch beside him would be a Big Mac or a Volcano Burrito with a huge bowl of potato crisps that he would noisily chew through. She knew from the sounds that emanated from the couch when the crisps were wasabi-flavoured ones.

Lizzy loved this house. It was hers – he was the interloper. The old wooden beams, the walls you could hug, hoping it would tell you stories from years ago. If you listened carefully, you could hear the whisper of ivy as it brushed against the outer walls. This was where she had her children, where they had grown up, playing and running through the rooms, some of them in a rather dilapidated condition but she knew and loved every brick, every beam.

‘And here I am, pregnant again, unwanted in my own home!’

He hated her, that much was certain. She knew the day he got rid of her would be one of the happiest in his life. Why did the very sight of her make him so mad? Was she really that repugnant? She, who kept his home clean, who never, ever made demands, who went around without a sound, not disturbing him or anyone else. Most of the time, she was not seen, not heard.

The hand holding the poker took aim. Lizzy couldn’t move, she was so terrified. Would her little ones die in her womb, never seeing the light of day? Or the warm glow of the house at night? One foot after the other . . . slowly, he advanced, holding her gaze so she would stay pinned to the wall with fright.

He lifted his arm, oh, so slowly. Then he struck. In that split second, she moved, as though a puppeteer had jerked some strings. She felt the poker come down hard on her behind but she got away. Scampering to safety, into the attic above, she let out her breath, scared but glad to be safe.

‘Tonight… I can feel it’s my night. How many will there be? Four? Five? More? We won’t let him kill our spirit, my little ones. Soon, there will be many more of us for him to tackle. Who knows? Maybe we can drive him mad!’

The man put down the poker and gingerly picked up the lizard’s tail with a paper tissue.

‘The next time, I’ll smash that dratted lizard, I will!’


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