I can never forget the night Tariro and I packed our small backpacks and snuck out in the night to our aunt’s house. She was my mother’s older sister who lived three streets away from us. Seeking refuge from her was the last resort. Earlier on father walked in to my room stark naked and gagged me with his stiffness. I threw up the evening dinner on him and continued to retch uncontrollably.
“You little bitch,” he hissed as he moved away in disgust.
I took that opportunity and ran out of the room screaming for mother. She was in the kitchen, sitting quietly concentrating on her knitting. Without looking up she calmly told me to keep the noise down before hastily adding, “And go clean yourself up.” I blinked away tears in disbelief. She would let him do anything to us. Rape included.
I locked myself in the bathroom for hours, afraid that he would come back to finish what he started with me. A little after midnight, I tip toed to Tariro’s room and gently woke him up.
“Pack whatever you can fit in your school bag, we are getting out of here” I said in loud whisper.
The urgency in my voice said it all. He understood, nodded and quickly stuffed his bag with a couple of clothes. As quiet as mice we left and walked solemnly to our aunt’s house.
“Children, what happened?” Our aunt said worriedly as she ushered us into her home. We settled in her small, overly decorated living room.
“Now tell me, showing up on my door step in the middle of the night? Whatever is wrong dearies?” She asked, while handing us each a glass of mazoe orange crush.
I tried to talk but there was a catch in my throat. I broke down and started sobbing. I managed to pull myself together after she took me in a long embrace and rocked me back and forth. We told her everything, the beatings, his attempt to rape me, the cruel punishments and for good measure we peeled our clothes off to show her the scars on our bodies. Finally, she showed us where to sleep.
“It’s going to be okay my sweet popsicles; it’s going to be okay.” She reassured us.
We huddled in the tinny guest room with my brother, drawing strength from each other, uncertain of what the future held for us. For the first time, I felt safe. A foreign feeling so soothing that I gloriously welcomed it.
The following morning, we enjoyed a hearty breakfast. Our aunt was an awesome cook; chubby and so cheerful it was contagious. Her little cottage was full of warmth that enveloped us in a false sense of security.
“Okay kids, jump in to the car with your bags, we are going somewhere” She beamed at us.
With no questions asked we were in her car, we were safe and we trusted her with our lives. It seemed the horror was finally over. I could not believe my eyes when the car turned into an all too familiar driveway. My heart sank like a ship’s anchor. We nervously exchanged looks with Tariro
” Aunty wha-” she cut me mid-sentence.
“ Shh my darlings, I told you everything is going to be okay”
She didn’t even get out of the car. She dropped us back home and drove away in a hurry as if running away from the laden burdens that we were.
Father sat on the front porch smoking his pipe.
“Well, well look what the cat dragged in” He taunted us.
The dripping sarcasm so cold it could freeze ice cream. I felt my younger brother’s hand slide into mine. We were sacred shitless.
“You spoiled rascals need to be taught a lesson! Today you are going to learn to appreciate how good you have it” He threatened us.
He beat the living daylights out of us, whipped us raw until we bled. I wept the entire night, my face buried into the pillow in an attempt to stifle my sobs. I locked my room in fear of a repeat of the previous night. I was shocked and bitter, our aunt betrayed us, how could she? I trusted her! Everyone seemed to be under some spell cast by this hell spawn, that is our father. Just when we thought that there was a light at the end of the tunnel, only to realize that the light were the headlights of an incoming train. Coming straight at us to flatten all hopes and dreams of ever being free from the grasp of the devil.
I sat in that corner watching the lifeless body of my mother, blood oozing from her nose. Tariro was hysteric, “Mama! Mama!” he shook her in full panic mode.
At the hospital, our aunt sat by mother’s bedside, her head bowed down in a silent prayer. It was the longest three months of our lives, while we waited for mother to wake from the coma. We never saw father ever since that day. He just disappeared from the face of the earth. Our aunt took us in and I have never been so grateful for father’s absence. I could smile again, my sense of humor was slowly creeping in, I could laugh although sometimes my thoughts would be clouded by the haunting memories of father’s abuse.
When she woke up from the coma, I was relieved at the same time annoyed by her insistence to know where father had gone. She was lying on a hospital bed, up from a coma induced by this leprechaun and she still cared for him? I was mind blown. We stayed a little longer with our aunt until mother had fully recovered, except for the twitch. We needed a little getting use to that. We returned home after five months. Tariro had just turned 16; we baked a cake and invited a few of his friends over for a small intimate celebration. Mother was withdrawn and more miserable than when father was around. Earlier the previous week, I eavesdropped on a phone conversation that she was having with one of father’s friends, Bo.
“Are you sure you haven’t seen him Bo?” I heard her inquire
“Yes he hasn’t shown up for work for the past six months” She continued
“If you hear anything please let me know” With a sigh she slumped on the bed.
I was beyond baffled but I was not surprised at this dysfunctional undying love that she had for this man who brought nothing but pain and misery in our lives. Six months turned to two years and father was nowhere to be seen. They were the best years of my life, well, except for mother’s misery, which was a stain to our happiness.