12 March

THE BEGINNING OF THE END

I woke up that morning with a sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach. My heart was telling me that something terrible was going to happen. I spent a few long minutes watching him sleep, thinking about how much I hated him, then how much I loved him and then finally reminding myself how there was no other option and why I had to be with him forever.

The night before they had another ‘family meeting’ to which I was obviously not invited to. Even though I did not know what was ever discussed, these ‘meetings’ often resulted in a punishment for me. And by now I was well aware that I had to prepare myself for what was about to come. He rolled out of bed and walked straight out of the door and at that moment I knew that this was going to be ‘one of those days’.

I remember coming out of the bathroom and hearing the slamming of plates and praying – “Ya Allah, give me the strength!” But I revived myself and went down stairs to make breakfast. The atmosphere was so unwelcoming that I went back upstairs to avoid any form of confrontations. I don’t remember what I was doing exactly but I heard a sharp sound, my mother-in-law screamed my husbands’ name. I instantly ran out my room scared thinking that something had happened to him.

In the hallway I was met with his brother who whizzed passed me bellowing;

“GET THE GUN!”

There was blood on his hands, there was blood smeared on the walls and drops of blood across the hallway. He grabbed a baseball bat from his room and on his way out the door his mother stopped him shouting “what happened?”,  he yelled "SHAFIQUE!" My heart stopped and my brain sped 100 miles in a split second. I didn’t register anything until I heard my husbands voice saying, “Call the police!”

I could feel myself unfreeze and run upstairs to dial 999. While I was on the phone I raced from room to room to see what was happening outside. I looked out of the window and witnessed a herd of young men running back and forth along the road. I had never seen such a chaotic scene. As I was informing the police, a voice seeped in from the next room. I could hear my mother in-law also on the phone to the police but I was confused by what I was hearing. She was speaking in broken English, even though she spoke it fluently! I could hear her say: “My landlord coming, he have axe, he gave gun, he will kill us”, then she got off the phone and screamed for him; “Oi, your wife is lying on the phone!” Something did not feel right, and a million questions came into my head. Why was she talking like this? Why is she talking about the landlord? Why is she saying that I am lying to the police?

As usual after hearing her screams he always seemed to appear out of nowhere. I will never forget what happened next.

My husband stormed up to me and put a gun to my head.

“Give me your phone! I’m going to fucking kill you!” 

I could not believe what was happening. I remember looking straight into his eyes, shocked, as I silently handed my phone over to him.

My husband had just threatened to kill me. I felt suffocated and knew I had to pray to Allah. As I went to perform wudhu, I kept feeling like my bedroom door was being opened and every time I closed it and walked back into the en suite I would hear it open again; this happened several times. All of a sudden I found my ‘little’ brother in-law at the door while I tried to close it once more, this strange behavior scared me and he caught me off-guard when he suddenly barged into my room and came right up to my face saying; “I’m going to fuck you up and I’m going to fuck your dad up." At this point I did not want to entertain this pathetic behavior so I replied, “Do whatever you want, just leave me alone.” I could here him grinding his teeth and before I knew it, he punched me. He had hit me. I stumbled back, shock and pain took over and at that moment my mother in-law and husband appeared. My gaze fell on my husband, my eyes locked with his and I said, “Your brother just punched me” as he pulled his brother away, he simply looked back and replied:

“DON’T INCRIMINATE MY BROTHER”

And left me with tears rolling down my face. Incriminate? That moment I realised that I became 'the family punching bag'.

I walked back into the bathroom and cried my eyes out but this time I didn’t need God. I just needed to scream. I thought of my dad. I looked at myself in the mirror one last time and said ‘’You need to go and see what’s happened. Has your gangster husband killed your father?"

At that very moment I could hear the police downstairs asking if there was anyone else in the house that they needed to speak to. His mother replied “No” as she gave her false account stating my father had come to kill her and her precious sons. She was in the house at all times. I found it disgusting. How can a person not have an iota of remorse in them? She lied to the police, so freely.

I took a deep breath and realized that this was my only opportunity to walk out the house without them noticing, but my car keys were missing. I walked out of the room, and found my phone on the stairs, so I called him and explained that I needed some fresh air after all that has happened. He came upstairs and gave me the keys whilst sarcastically saying; “You are going. Again!”

I hurried to the car and as I was leaving it dawned on me; I was leaving for good. For some reason I felt the urge to look back at him. I turned around, my face wet with tears and said;

“I do love you, you know” but he shrugged his shoulders and mockingly replied, “I don’t know."

I drove around the corner and screamed. I cried like a mourner who had lost a loved one and when I couldn’t cry anymore I took a deep breath and dialed my fathers’ number. “Baba, where are you? Did you come to my house today?” He promised me that he hadn’t been in the area, that ounce of relief relaxed me a little.

Now that I knew my father was okay, I took a moment to reflect on what had just taken place, but I seemed to push everything to the back of my mind and I remember telling myself that I had to go back. I had endured so much that I couldn’t give up now – I should give it one more try, so I drove back to the house but no one was home. When I called him, he said; “go to your dads init.” I was hurt, and tears started streaming down my face as I desperately told him that I couldn’t because I had cut all ties with them – for him. He was unfazed and again mercilessly said “go to Majedas’ then, or go to a hotel - go anywhere. Its not safe for you here.” I decided to book myself into a local hotel and messaged him to let him know where I staying. I asked him to bring me a few of my belongings. He never responded. I felt so abandoned.

The only moment I stopped crying was when I called my best friend to reassure her that I was okay. I repetitively called him, so much so, my battery died and as I didn’t even have a charger I desperately went hunting for one. It was 6am. When I had finally found one at a petrol pump, it felt like it was forever when it charged to 1% and I could call him. I impatiently called him again and again till he finally responded with a text. 'Get the fuck off my phone.’ I ignored his hurtful words and kept calling me until he finally he picked up. I reminded him that I was his wife and he couldn’t just abandon me, he replied; “You are NOT my wife! You are Shafiques’ daughter” and he hung up.

I felt so lost. I didn’t know what to do. I needed to hear my Mothers voice but when she picked up I knew instantly something was wrong; “Ma, what’s wrong?” But she insisted that everything was okay. “Ma… I can’t do this anymore…” I felt strange saying this to my mother, but her tone changed and her voice started to quiver as if she was going to cry.

“Well then save your dad, the police took him last night!’’

My heart stopped and I cried uncontrollably as the story unfolded. My father had been arrested and the house had been raided. Shame and guilt came drowned me, all I felt was that this was my fault. Everything was my fault. My father was an honest and giving man and I had subjected him this. My husband cursed me, abused me and hated me because I was not a good enough wife. I wanted to die. And I decided no matter how difficult it would be I would kill myself. But before I did that I had to tell the truth and put everyone out of their misery. I had to release my Baba and set my husband free so I firmly told my mother, “Enough is enough Ma, I will fix this!”

I hung up to decipher what my plan would be, after a few seconds I knew exactly what I had to do. I would tell the truth and then I would kill myself. Without hesitating, I dialed 101.

“An incident happened at 18 Westwater.

I need to speak up.

I need to tell the truth.”

As I started telling them briefly what I had endured, they sensed my vulnerability as two policewomen came to me straight away and I told them everything, it just naturally tumbled out and it felt so freeing. I was told that I would be taken to a secure unit and that I would have to identify the gun and have my interview recorded. I agreed, but when they told me that they would arrest my husband I stopped, and it dawned upon me that I was causing more grief than good so I just wanted to backtrack. I still didn’t want to cause him any pain or get him into any trouble. But it was too late as it was too serious for them to not follow up on what had happened.  Anxiety filled my body and I just needed to get out of the station, but they wouldn’t let me go until he was arrested and they knew I was safe.

The only way I could get out the station was if I called my family, I realized that this was the best way to leave and follow through with my suicide. Both my mother and brother came to pick me up and they held onto me so tight, I didn’t want them to let me go, I hadn’t felt this much warmth and love in so long, it invigorated me even more so.

My husband and his entire family were arrested and my father was released. I was brought back home where I saw my father for the first time in months. I saw him and I dropped to the floor holding my hands together “Baba, please forgive me, I am so sorry…” Baba started to cry and dropped to the floor and held me so tightly, my brothers embracing us creating a protective shield around us with their arms. I was home. I was safe. After our emotional embrace I realized that the only people who mattered were in front of me and I could not punish them any further, my parents did not struggle so much and raise me to see my corpse!

There was no going back – the relief and sanity felt like no other, something had changed inside me and I just didn’t care. I pondered on everything he had done. His lies and deceit, everything started to disappear. The pain I had endured by staying with him, the house I had lovingly built for us, the desire to have a fresh start with him, his family, being a divorcee yet again. Nothing mattered anymore.

I remember calling my best friend, and this time confidently telling her that I’m ok. Every time I think of this phone call I can hear her voice saying;

“I’ve got my Maz back.”

These words made me feel strong and I knew how detached I was from myself.

I turned to my father and said: “Baba, I want to take everything! Their heart was in that house. I don’t want them to have anything!’  Within a matter of hours, we took everything he wanted. I took it because it was rightfully mine. Not because I wanted it, but because they had their eyes set on it! The police had handed me the keys as it was my house and armed with 6 removal vans we cleared the whole house. We took the appliances my husband had never paid for. We took the cooker that my mother-in-law wanted so badly – but had been paid for by me - none of it mattered to me, but I got a huge satisfaction from taking it. The builders found the gold bangles that were taken from me whenever my mother-in-law was unhappy with me and I took it, in spite of her. I would rather give my belongings to charity than let her greedy self have anything!  We dismantled their belongings and put things in suitcases and left it in a room. During the clear up we discovered the most absurd things, she had my husbands wedding ring, the watch my father gifted him, pictures of me and him and many of my personal belongings that I assumed I lost under her bed. It dawned upon me how disgusting and acquisitive this woman was. However, when it came to packing away my husbands belongings I still cared, because I found myself ironing his clothes for work, like I did while I lived with him… maybe I wanted to still feel like I was still his wife.

When I left, I took the car because he had financed it under my name. We left a note saying that it was private property and that they should contact the police to collect their belongings.

I never returned to the house after that day but the house was put up for sale and with the profits I paid off his debts and I brought his dream car on his birthday... but for myself. Sweet revenge. 

 

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Dear ex-husband,

I once told you, when I leave everything you will come crashing down and that’s exactly what happened.

You ended up where you began.

I pray you find peace so that you can never hurt another women again. But I thank you for hurting me, because it has given me purpose. And I will now stand up,

So that no Marzana or Farzana or Rehana will suffer again!

Marzana Rahman