She cut pieces of her skin to patch his wounds,
Drowned her voice, so that his would be louder,
Lost her way, so that he could find a way home,
Hid her light, so that his could shine brighter,
She did it all in the name of love, and in the end, she died so that he could live.
After all, he was more important than her.
No one said it loudly, but that was the truth. Men were more important than women. Boys mattered more than girls. They were strong, girls were weak. That’s why some parents tried hard to get boys. That’s why women who couldn’t give birth to boys, were labeled a disgrace to society. They said their wombs were cursed. Their husbands also left. Some communities even killed baby girls because they were regarded as evil spirits.
She could see this truth in the way people treated men. They were like gods. You had to bow down to them. Your world had to revolve around them. You had to pay them more respect. They were powerful.
The society taught girls how to cook, clean and be organized. It wasn’t mostly to their advantage, but so that they would make good wives in future. Good wives were made. Boys didn’t need any grooming. They naturally made good husbands. Or husbands in some cases. After all, they didn’t have a lot to do, other than provide and take care of their family.
He hated women who talked back. Women who raised their voice when they talked to men. It was an unwomanly thing to do. He said. Raising their voice made them appear rude and stubborn. They were supposed to listen in silence and ask no questions. The man of the house made sane decisions. He knew what was best for his family. They wouldn’t have made man the head of the house, if he was incapable of making good decisions. They saw potential in him. And she wondered whether she didn’t have a right to talk, or share her opinion on matters that concerned her or her home.
He hated women who showed their skin. Their hair. Women who attracted other men’s attention were prostitutes. He said. They didn’t deserve to be called women, and they weren’t capable of having a home or raising children. And so, she covered her hair and wore big, long, baggy dresses. One dress could make a tent for twenty people to sit in. She also said goodbye to trousers, cute tops, sexy dinner dresses, heels…
He hated her friends. They were bad influence. He said. Women who would tear down her marriage. Women who would force her to leave him. He hated them because they said the truth, and he didn’t want his perfect image as a husband and a father to be tainted. And so, she lost touch with them.
She lost her identity. If you asked who she was, she would stammer and say a wife and a mother of two. She didn’t know who she was as a person. What she loved. What her hobbies were. What made her soul glow. What made her happy.
She couldn’t remember the last time she ate her favorite dish. She was always cooking what her husband liked. What he wanted. What he thought his relatives or the visitors liked. What the children wanted.
Women look for their soulmate, while men look for power. The idea of settling down, getting married, having a ring, children, breakfast in bed, excited them. She was once that woman. A woman who longed for stable relationships that led to marriage. Now, she couldn’t understand the anticipation and the excitement people had for it. She saw no joy it. No happiness, no freedom, no peace, no equality, nothing.
All she did was take care of everyone, but who took care of her? Who asked if she was okay? If she needed to get rest? Time to unwind. Who asked if she was happy?
Her life was programmed to a routine. All she ever did was cook, clean, dust, mop, sweep, shout, sleep and do the same thing the following day.
She had to make sure the family was put together, that the husband ate well, complimented and loved her food. They warned her that if he didn’t, he would eat another woman’s.
If he wasn’t happy and satisfied in bed, he would cheat. She had to make sure he didn’t cheat. That would be a bad image for the family. All fingers would point towards her.
And so, she put her man first. His needs first. He mattered the most. She could even make water from scratch, if he asked her to.
That’s why women took various classes before getting married. To learn how to take care of their men. Their needs. How to cook tasty meals. How to keep themselves clean. How to keep things spicy in the bedroom. Exercises and food to eat to keep their muscles tight. To keep their body in shape. Sexy. So that the men wouldn’t have an eye for other women out there. Every effort was meant to make the man stay. She wondered why they had to try so much. Surely, if a man had decided to stay, did he still need convincing reasons to do so? Did he have to be kept on a leash to prevent him from cheating? And what if he broke the leash? Was it still her fault?
She couldn’t understand why men were barely groomed for marriages. Why they didn’t have lessons where they learned how to take care of their women. How to be emotionally supportive. How to be better husbands and fathers for their family. Did they know anything about sacrifice?
Why is it that most women put their lives on hold for their men? Compromised for them? Changed for them?
Why is it that the society had come up with ways to identify who was suitable as a wife material and who wasn’t? Did a woman’s life revolve around men and marriage? Suppose one didn’t want to get married or have kids? Did that make her less of a woman? Those who didn’t like farming, livestock, cleaning, cooking…didn’t they also deserve to be married? Or they weren’t worthy of that?
The society had credentials that dictated who qualified to be a woman, a wife, a mother and who did not.
Why is it that a woman had to change who she was to be accepted by the society? Why couldn’t it let a woman be a woman? Let her make her own decisions and live by her own rules.
Why is it that when a man left his family, it wouldn’t be such a big issue? People had a reason to justify why he left. Either he was unhappy, or the wife cheated.
In some societies, it was a crime for the woman to be more successful than the man. Her success would be a threat to his manhood. To his ego. If she was more learned than him, that was another reason why the marriage wouldn’t work.
Why is it that it was okay for a man to beat his wife? And say that he was disciplining her or trying to put his house in order?
There was always a reason to justify a man’s behavior. People blamed the woman. Always. If her kids turned out to be thieves or got pregnant early, they’d say the mother didn’t raise her children well. No one blamed the father.
With the darkness looming in her marriage, she stayed. For the children. They needed a father. A father figure. She had heard that children who grew without fathers, turned out to be a mess. She didn’t want them to be a mess. Even though the father’s love wasn’t present, his presence was there.
The women he had affairs with, were everything her husband said he hated. They were the opposite of her. They wore short dresses, took alcohol, smoked, talked back, showed their skin…They were everything he told her not to be.
She couldn’t figure out what it is he wanted. She had played by the book, but still that wasn’t enough.
He wanted a home, she gave him a home.
He wanted children, she gave him children.
He wanted food, she gave him food.
He wanted sex, she gave him sex,
What more did he want?
What more did she have to do to make her husband a faithful, caring, responsible man? Grow wings and fly? Stop the sun from setting?
She had given him the world, but she dint have a place in it,
Cried just to make him happy,
They told her that marriage is not perfect. It’s like a sea. Sometimes its calm, sometimes it’s rough. With storms. Do you abandon your ship and jump because there is a storm? They asked.
They told her to fight for it. To pray because God sees, hears prayers and answers them. They told her to be patient. To persevere, because that’s what women did. They held the family together.
And so she stayed and prayed.
She dressed for him, cooked his favorite meals…she tried to please him, to be worthy in his eyes,
She wanted him to see her as someone, as his wife, a wife who deserved love, attention and care, but did he?
She was a prisoner, a prisoner in her own home, a prison she had made with her own hands,
She tried to run but his hands kept pulling her back, pushing her against the bars, choking her,
The hands that were supposed to protect her, destroyed her,
They set her on fire, and still expected her to be quiet,
And so, she continued to burn in silence.