That Demon Is My Husband

When I was little, I often dreamt of a demon.
I’d bang on our front door as the demon came down the stairs.
I’d scream and my voice would catch in my throat.
My hands would grew heavier as I pounded on the door.
When I got married, I started to suspect that demon was my husband.
I’m very scared of him.
To the point that when I see him in public, I get scared.
Because he doesn't give a damn about anything. Not even when we’re in public, surrounded by people.

We were spoiled when we were little, and our father loved us.
I laughed so joyfully during high school and college.
To the point where I felt I’d burst from laughter.
I haven’t laughed like that since I got married.
He did drugs all the time—to the extent that all his teeth fell out.
He was his mother’s only child, but he used to give her hell and beat her up.
She treated him like a small child
If he treated his own mother that way, you could imagine what he did to me!

When we got married, I lived with him at his parents’.
Not in the same apartment, but in the same building.
He didn’t provide for me at all.
When we first got married, his mother would cook and bring up a plate for us.
When I gave birth, she made him bring me vegetables to cook.
My mother would bring me the things I craved:eggs, cheese, milk...
Whenever I saw anyone having breakfast on TV, I’d tell him I wanted to eat a breakfast like that.
“I want to have breakfast like you do downstairs with your family!”
I would make breakfast from whatever leftovers we had.
“We’re hungry!” I’d tell him. “I can pretend I’m fasting, but what about the kids?”
“Let me go to my mother’s then,” I’d say
“I see. You want to go back to your family to embarrass me!”
I knew nothing about how he made a living, or where he got his money from.
He spent it on drugs.
He didn’t care if we starved.
We had kids, and sometimes, we didn't even have a few potatoes or a piece of cheese to survive on.

On top of all this, he was the suspicious sort.
If I was a little late opening the door, he’d barge in and search the whole house.
He’d open the bathroom door and the cupboards.
At first, I thought he was just blind with jealousy.
“Does anyone visit when you’re at your mother’s?” he’d ask
He’d search my bags before I left the house.
“I’m just making sure you’re not taking pyjamas with you”
One time, when I was at mama’s, he called to ask me where a certain pair of my underwear was.
He would go through the laundry and count them.
Whenever I left the house, I had to wear the worst thing I owned, and he had to approve of my outfit.
“I don’t trust women,” he’d say
“When I worked at the shop, there were women who would take off their clothes for me, because they were after a pair of earrings or a ring. So, I know that all women are the same.”

He constantly beat me up like crazy.
Like I was a man.
He never cursed, except when he called me a slut.
That’s the only insult he used.
“You’re not supposed to talk back,” he’d say. “I’m the man of the house, and you can’t talk back to me.”
He knew I loved my father very much, God rest his soul.
So, every time he addressed me, he’d insult me by insulting my father.
“How is the bastard’s daughter doing?”
“Get up, you bastard’s daughter!”
One time after insulting me, I started to scream and cry, and of course, he didn’t want anyone to hear my screams.
So, he sat on my back and pulled my mouth wide open with both of his hands.
He kept pulling until he tore the veins in my mouth.
I kept banging on the floor, and he just kept pulling my mouth open wider.
“If you keep shouting, I’ll rip your mouth open so wide, the doctor won’t know how to sew it back up!”
It wasn't an empty threat, so, of course, I shut up.

Another time he trapped me in the bedroom, and kicked me all over my body and in my head.
I couldn't beg for help from anyone, because I didn’t know anyone around.
I broke the window overlooking the light well and kept screaming for help.
He sat in front of the apartment door.
“What are you going to do now, slut? Show me how you’re going to get out, you whore.”
I looked out the window and mimed my mom’s phone number to one of the neighbours.
I gestured with my hands to call her and tell her to come .
He was, of course, shocked when my mom and sister arrived.
He kept insulting my mom, saying, “You’re here to stir things up, you slut!”
He attacked me and threw me to the ground.
He put my big toe in his mouth and pulled until it broke.
My mother kept screaming for him to let me go .
She grabbed the stove lighter.
I screamed louder when I discovered blood dripping from his mouth.
“Just let us leave, let us leave”, begged my sister, who was in shock.
And we did, miraculously.

But because I haven’t a shred of dignity left, I went back to him after 9 months.
After he was forced to bend down and kiss my brother’s foot, so that I’d come back.
“You had to humiliate me first before coming back, didn’t you?” he said when we got back home. “For that, you’ll pay, and let’s see who’ll save you this time!”

He’s constantly beating me up, and if I try to say anything about it, I get a swift punch in return.
He treated our newborn daughter like she was one of the women who stripped for him at the store.
“I bet I’ll be dragging her out of a whorehouse soon!” he said.
My daughter became sick. The doctor said she had an inguinal hernia and needed an operation.
My husband was only all too pleased to hear this. He earnestly prayed that she’d die, because she was a girl.
“She came into this world already hating it, so let’s pray we bury her soon insha’Allah!” he said.
Mama borrowed money for the operation from a neighbor. My brother, sister, and I left at 3:00 am to the hospital.
“Who gave you the right to make that decision?” asked my husband when he learned we had gone through with the operation. “I’m not providing for you anymore. Go stay at your mother’s and take your daughter with you. I’ll bring over the two other children as well.”
I stayed at my mother’s for a year. Then I went back to him. Again.
During our last fight, he grabbed a pen and continued to stab me with it until I agreed to sign a form that said I agreed to give up all my rights. I signed it in the end.
All this happened in front of the kids. They were sobbing.
He then grabbed me from behind and threw me on my back. I had been carrying the girl.
I grabbed her and we fled. I left the two boys and never went back.

I often feel like I’m not as good as my friends.
I don’t like the way people and society look at women who don’t live with their husbands.
It’s a pitying look.
It’s like women like me are incomplete.
Take one of the guys who works at the supermarket down the street; I don’t know him, and yet he still decides to call out to me: “Didn’t you get married? Why are you back at your mother’s?”
I stopped and stared at him. How is that any of your business? I wanted to ask.
I didn’t say I got a divorce. I was afraid to.
I even told mama that I didn’t want anyone to know when I was finally divorced.
That way it’ll look like I came to live with her because I’m still angry at my husband, but that I’m still married and have my own home.
Because a woman without a man is seen as inferior and lacking.
“No, my daughter’s still young. She won’t stay single forever. She’ll remarry,” my mother said to her neighbor during a chat.
“But she has 3 kids. I think it’d be better if she returned to her husband,” said the neighbor.
I can’t get married with 3 kids, what with one of them being a girl, too.
I feel crazy for thinking of going back to him after all that’s happened.
But I don’t know if I can stand staying at mama’s forever
Especially when the neighbors come to visit.
The place feels cramped and suffocating then.
I can’t stand our neighbor and her kids, but at the same time, I can’t ask mama to stop inviting them over.
“You want to keep me cooped up in here and keep people from visiting me?!” she’d say when I ask her.
I always dream that I’m alone.
In the middle of a disaster, and I’m just standing there, unable to do anything about it.
I don’t regret getting a divorce.
I regret all the years of my life spent with him, and the blameless children I gave birth to.
If I could go back in time, I wouldn't have left my job.
I felt like my own person when I had a job.
I felt like he wanted to destroy me.
Even though I knew this, I obeyed him and quit.
“Your wish is my command,” he used to say . “Tell me how much they pay you, and I’ll give you the money instead, save you the hassle”
He made me quit my job, and things went downhill from there.

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