Doll tale 2: Mireille’s ways

Doll tale 2 : Mireille’s ways

27 September 2014

Domestic violence victim

 

Simon was a sweet soul. Everyone in his neighbourhood in a small suburb in Geneva loved him because he was always ready to and even volunteering to help anyone who came his way. A slight-figured man with a clean-shaven and very forgettable face, he was nonetheless liked by both the youngsters and the older generation because of his well-mannered and quiet ways.

A consultant in the local insurance firm, Simon knew everything about everyone and was always available to help out with insurance claims even when his boss believed it would not be in the best interest of the firm they both worked for.  All knew and recognized that Simon was a decent fellow and had high moral values so his boss put up with his behaviour because ultimately, the boss too was from the same suburb which had once been some sort of a village. He would not have wanted to face the neighbours’ wrath if Simon had turned them off and some smart lawyer from downtown Geneva had enlightened them on the validity of their claims.

Simon had a wife called Mireille. She was all the opposite of Simon. Her hair was always unkempt and the smell that rose from her was often disturbing in the winter and outright unbearable in the summer heat as it turned into a stench of sweat and sometimes, on Sundays, a mixture of sour armpits and some cheap cologne. A sullen, ill-mannered creature with hardly any education, she was always glaring at people from beneath an unbelievably tussled nest of hair that barely left any of her face visible and seldom greeted anyone except the local priest.

All the neighbours never understood how sweet-natured Simon could have married and continue to live with such a woman. Then again, when you knew that Simon and Mireille had four children, you understood that the poor fellow must have got trapped in the marriage and him being such a sweet soul, he naturally must have chosen to “stick around” and make the best of his marriage rather than divorce and expose the children to grief.

Mireille, despite being unkempt and unclean, was somehow perceived as a very religious person, to the extent that some could qualify her as being a bigot. She never missed the Sunday mass except when she was visiting her mother with the children. Those were the only Sundays when Simon would come to the mass and tell everyone apologetically that Mireille had gone off to see her mother with the children and could not be there.

All attending the mass would then nod their heads understandingly and smile at Simon although nobody really understood why he was informing them as nobody really could say they missed Mireille’s presence. It was awfully nice of him though to show up and stand in for his wife despite the fact that everyone knew he had so much work on Sundays and normally could not make it to mass. He would then take some of the mass wine that father Mathieu had set aside for Mireille and go back home immediately after mass.

One fine month, Mireille skipped mass more than one Sunday and it was only on Simon’s uncomfortable fourth Sunday apology for her absence that people actually realized that Mireille had not been to mass the whole of the month. Some whispered amongst each other that maybe her prolonged absence at her mother’s place meant that finally Simon was going to be freed from her. Although some felt that it was a shame for the kids, they believed that it was probably the best for all as Simon would probably be able to file for custody of the children. Many neighbours gathered together that Sunday after mass and discussed how they could approach the subject and be of help to Simon in his future custody battle.

Father Mathieu who was leaving the mass and was passing by the Café-bar where they had gathered happened to overhear their discussion. He stopped and turning around to face the assembly told them that it was their Christian duty not to encourage this sort of a behaviour and that if they were going to let Simon know they would support him in a custody battle then that would equate to instigating his divorce.

Some of those present looked crestfallen but a small group who really empathized with Simon voiced their concerns that Father Mathieu should not have more understanding and support for a sweet-natured soul like Simon who was spending his life miserable in a situation which he should be helped to come out from. They further tried to prove the validity of their point of view by arguing that Simon being already a sweet and helpful soul, surely it could only be a benefit to the Christian community that such a man be freed from his misery to be able to carry out more community work for someone who would at least be thankful for it, unlike Mireille who seemed incapable of gratitude or any other positive feeling.

Father Mathieu said nothing but just stared at his shoes and the crowd, emboldened by what they thought was their successful convincing on their point of view pursued their reasoning and even tried to get Father Mathieu involved in the mission of liberating Simon. At the mention of such a possibility Father Mathieu started as if somebody had poked him with a hot iron and blurted out a sharp “No, I will not be a part of it” before walking away holding his head in his hands and muttering.

“Let him go, that’s the church for you” said Estelle the bar-tender. “They will continue to support even someone like Mireille just because she is supposedly a devout Christian but they will never help someone like Simon because he skips mass “. The crowd then devised how best to help and it was decided with the consent of all including Estelle who had half-volunteered that she would be the one who would be in charge of initiating the talks. As she was a tough stout woman who took no nonsense from anyone, including the late night drinkers that she would throw out herself by their ears, it was felt by all the gathering that she would be able to handle Mireille without much effort and at the same time be able to talk to Simon from equal to equal.

That night, Estelle closed her bar earlier after throwing out the last of the crowd that was still huddled in a corner playing rummy and set off on foot to Simon and Mireille’s house. Upon arriving at their fence she rang a couple of times before realizing that Simon had told them that both the gate bell and the doorbell had to be fixed so she hopped over the small garden fencing and walked quickly to the backyard as Simon and Mireille probably left the backyard door open like most of the neighbours.

On reaching the backdoor, Estelle realized that it was actually locked so she peered through the glazed panes to see if someone was nearby and could come to open the door. A dimmed light from the living room cast shadows around the walls and suddenly Estelle saw a thin bloodied figure dart across the living room followed closely by another less slight figure and even her tough heart skipped a beat as she recognized Mireille more by the tussled nest on her head than from the actual figure as nobody had ever seen her in anything else than very loose slacks and a big shirt that did not show much of her figure. Mireille was wearing a gown that was shredded in many places and through the shreds one could guess in the dim light that it was blood and skin that was oozing out. Behind her, closing in on her was Simon who seemed nothing like the Simon that Estelle knew. She could see his profile cut out against the dim light of the living room and he looked murderous, his hand carrying a belt that he was swishing above his head and at Mireille. At that moment, a small movement in the corner of the room caught her eyes and Estelle realized that it was one of the four children who was crawling towards his mother and tugging the bottom of Simon’s pants to which Simon reacted in a way that shocked Estelle into action as he just shook his leg and sending the child away from him with something like a half-kick.

The backyard door was no match for Estelle’s hundred kilogram massive frame and Simon froze as he saw Estelle burst into the kitchen from the backyard like some avenging Hulk. Estelle grabbed the child whom she put on the couch and then moved on to Simon whom she quickly immobilized against the wall before taking away the belt that he had been using to whip Mireille.

“What the f… is going on here” screamed Estelle who was well-known for her colourful language. Mireille, as always with her stony demeanour, just glared at Estelle and said nothing. Estelle felt the rage bubble inside her and knew she was close to hitting Simon if nobody would break the silence so she dropped the belt on the ground. Attempting to calm herself down, she said again in a loud voice “Mireille, put on the lights and can one of you tell me what the f.. is happening here?”.

Simon, eyes downcast feebly responded “I tried to stop her. She would not listen so I had to take the belt”.

“What do you mean take the belt?” raged Estelle. “I saw you using it on Mireille. She was not the one holding it”

“I tried to stop her” said Simon again

“Are you f..  telling me that she was hitting the kids and you tried to stop her?” barked Estelle

Simon paused, looked at Mireille who was turning on the lights, then looked at Estelle again and his expression softened changing back to the Simon they all knew. “You know me Estelle” he said. “I would not hurt a fly”.

Estelle faltered. She was sure she had seen him kick off his oldest son who had been crawling towards him but then the light had been so dim. Maybe she had imagined it. Could it be that this demented woman had attempted to hurt the children and Simon had then lost it and started hitting her with the same belt she was attempting to use against the children?

What was she thinking? Of course it could not be possible. She turned towards Mireille again who was walking or rather limping slowly back towards them and she got another shock as she took in the swollen closed left eye, the reddened right eye and the gashed cheeks, the slashes across the neck and the cut lips. She felt sick as her gaze went down to the bruised breasts and thighs from the gaping holes in the gown. It was only from Simon’s gasp and Mireille’s cry that she realized that she had increased her pressure against his throat.

“Please, please, let him go” begged Mireille.

Simon, eyes rolling, could not utter a sound and Mireille begged again “Please Estelle, just let him go”.

“What the f… do you mean let him go? Are you going to tell me that you don’t want this murderous b… dead? I don’t know what has been going on between both of you but I have seen enough tonight to know that you should not be here with your children”.

“Where would I go?” said Mireille in an eerily quiet voice

“Anywhere, but the furthest from this f… place” said Estelle. “Are you a f… idiot? Don’t you realize that one day you are going to end up dead?”

“I have nowhere to go” repeated Mireille in her stony toneless voice.

“Of course you have somewhere to go, you can go to your f… mother’s house” yelled Estelle. “Can’t she put you up until the social services find you something where you can stay with your kids?”

“My mother’s been dead for over 5 years Estelle. She passed away before our first son was born” said Mireille in a quiet voice.

“What the f.. “ started Estelle and her voice trailed off as the full horror of the situation started to sink into her brain. She realized then that every time Mireille had skipped mass it was not because she was at her mother’s house as Simon said but it had probably been because she was in no state to be seen.

Estelle stared in disbelief at Simon, marveling at how he had fooled them all into believing he was a meek good natured fellow while all the while this monster had been abusing his family right under their noses and they had all been sympathizing with him for his miserable life with Mireille. She tightened her grip again without realizing it.

“Let him go Estelle, please” Mireille pleaded again. “It is not his fault, he is ill. He loses his temper because of his illness but then he always regrets and makes amends”

“Like hell he is going to be ill when I have finished with him and you better tell me you’re finished with him too” blurted Estelle.

“Let him go Estelle” repeated Mireille in a firmer voice. “One must always present the other cheek and not rise against one’s spouse. Marriage vows are sacred” she continued.

“Are you a f… lunatic or what” Estelle ranted at her. “What other cheek? The one which is torn apart from the belt handle or the one that is swollen from the beating?

“You don’t understand” Mireille said. “He is sick but I can cure him. Father Mathieu said that I should be patient and obedient and that I should do all I can not to provoke him but to bring into his heart the love of Jesus Christ our Saviour. He who has given himself to carry all our sins will also bring peace into Simon’s heart and everything will be alright. What God has united no man can separate”

“Nonsense” screamed Estelle. “I knew that Father Mathieu was up to no good, I just did not realize the extent of it. What idiocy has he put into your brains now? If Simon is indeed sick then he needs a psychiatrist, not a wife whom he can beat every time he feels like it. I don’t know anything about your marriage but nothing justifies what he has done to you and nothing justifies what I saw him doing to your oldest son. You must leave this house now and if you don’t do it on your own, I will make it happen”

“Estelle, please, let him go” said Mireille again in a pleading voice. “Social services will not help us throughout. They will only help in the beginning during the time of the police investigation and then we will be left to fend for ourselves. Father Mathieu has already told me how it will be as he has seen such situations so many times before. I am not educated and it will be very difficult for me to find a job. Simon has a good job, he pays for everything. It is not that bad aside from the weekend. Please, Estelle, let him go”.

Estelle slowly released her grip on Simon’s neck and he adjusted his gait, collected himself into his well-natured mask again and seemed about to say something before he froze under the hatred in Estelle’s look and thought the better of it. He retreated slowly to the other end of the room and sat on the couch where Estelle had placed the child earlier. The child hurriedly dashed out of the couch and towards his mother who winced when he clutched her bare and sore thighs but held him close all the same.

Estelle backed slowly away from both parties until she felt the other wall behind her. Her mind was racing and she could not decide what the best thing to do was. She remembered how in other suburbs there had been cases of drunken husbands and always the children had ultimately been placed in a home because the mother often was deemed incapable of ensuring a decent income for the children or had resorted to prostitution as a profession and the father was considered unfit to take care of his offspring. This could not be happening she thought. Not in their nice quaint suburb with its beautiful gardenias and poinsettias, with its quaint green coloured fences and beautiful hedges. This happened in squalid neighbourhoods where people took drugs and houses were shabby with broken windows and squatter tags across the buildings.

Estelle breathed out a sigh and said in a steely voice “Okay, here is what we are going to do until I have decided what is better. Simon, you are going to ask one of your friends to lodge you for a week or so until I can think more clearly about this whole matter.”

Simon was about to say something when Estelle cut in icily “I don’t care whether you have a friend who will lodge you or not and in fact you can go to hell for all I care but either you are out of this house tonight or I am calling the police immediately. “

Simon grudgingly nodded in acquiescence and Estelle continued “You will change your common bank account tomorrow to Mireille’s sole name and you will open another bank account for yourself where she will wire half what is in your common bank account now and tomorrow first thing in the morning you will also request your boss to systematically wire half your monthly salary into Mireille’s account.” Simon scowled but nodded yes again.

“Now beat it” growled Estelle before adding “and remember, I am not Mireille and I will always know where to find you so don’t try doing anything funny because I will be coming back to this house and checking on everyone every day.”

Simon went up the stairs to the bedroom where she heard him put some clothes together into a suitcase that he came down with and he then walked towards the front door, opened it, looked back scowling at Mireille and then pulled the door shut behind him.

Estelle then went towards Mireille and proceeded to inch her slowly towards the bathroom where she found a first-aid kit and tended to Mireille’s wounds. Passing the corridor she was surprised to see a sunny picture of a very pretty Mireille in a wedding gown standing all teeth flashing in a smile and hair impeccably shaped into curls around her soft and warm face. At that unexpectedly beautiful sight tears rolled down Estelle’s cheeks as she thought of how much they had misjudged Mireille and never given her a chance to feel welcome in their midst. She thought that if only one of them had been more understanding, more welcoming maybe Mireille would have felt comfortable enough to share with them her situation and they could have helped her earlier. She just could not fathom how year after year this woman had borne that monster one child after another and carried on in this living hell. She looked again at Mireille who was also looking up at the portrait of her wedding day.

“I used to be pretty, yes and that sometimes can be a curse. Simon did not like men looking at me. He would ask me to dress less provocatively and not to doll myself up to entice their looks.”

When she caught Estelle’s surprised look she added “Yes, I know, I don’t look like I used to doll myself up but I was quite vain you know. I liked wearing pretty things and having my hair curled up nicely. God help me, I used to like it when men thought I was pretty. I never had a proper education you know so there was nothing else for anyone to admire than my looks. My uncle married me off quickly to Simon right after I finished my apprenticeship and I never had a chance to go even to technical school. Simon has a temper because of his medication you know. He does not mean to be nasty, it is just the medication that makes him lose his temper when we are discussing. He is always sorry afterwards.”

Estelle tried to find something comforting to say but being the tough bartender she was she failed to find something comforting to say and all she could do was grunt.

“Father Mathieu also said that a woman should not bring ungodly thoughts into the mind of a man who is not her husband. He said I should repent from having such thoughts and should try to be a better wife for Simon. He said Simon was not responsible for his behaviour and it was the devil’s work putting these ideas of seducing men into my head which then angered Simon. He said that as I knew Simon’s condition with the medication, I should try to be a better and more Christian wife so as not to provoke him. I tried you know. I tried so hard…” Mireille broke down sobbing. All those beatings she had taken silently but now, staring up at that beautiful picture of herself taken on a sunny morning when she thought her heart would burst with happiness, she could not bear the anguish she felt now. All those years that had gone by while day after day she was less able to feel any happiness and keener to just not displease Simon, all those hopes crushed and how she had slowly turned from that beautiful sun-kissed smiling girl into this sullen, grey woman.

Estelle held Mireille’s sobbing body gingerly trying not to hurt her more than she was already hurt but it was difficult as she was bruised all over. When finally Mireille’s outburst was over, Estelle half helped half carried her up the stairs and put her in bed before tending to the children. Two of them were fast asleep in the big bed in their room and she cleaned up the oldest before putting him to bed with his siblings. The youngest was also fast asleep in his crib and she marveled at the children’s capacity to not be disturbed by the fuss that had been going on downstairs. They probably were used to such noises and grew so accustomed to it that it did not wake them anymore she thought with a pang of guilt. It was also true that she herself had not heard anything much apart from the pitter patter of feet before she had seen Mireille dashing across. Probably Mireille never made a sound so as to preserve her children as much as she could. Estelle was torn between cursing Mireille for letting this go on for so long and admiring her for trying so hard to make things work despite the dire situation. She was not sure what to do so thought she should maybe discuss this with someone who had more experience than her with such matters.

The following morning, I sat at the typewriter, writing down the horrors that came out of Estelle’s mouth as the social worker who had brought me along was not very quick at typing. I was a volunteer at the abused women’s shelter at the local Commune near the suburb where Estelle lived. I watched Estelle and Florence as they discussed various options and typed away all what was being discussed my heart beating at the idea that some women could be living in such slavery and misery just a few kilometers from the heart of our lovely international city. Geneva, the city of neutrality, the city of human rights and human rights’ militants where so many immigrants held a hope of a better tomorrow.

Mireille was awarded full custody of her children and the judge ruled that she would keep the house. She started working with Estelle as waitress and people, as if to compensate for their lack of insight earlier, tipped her heavily. Simon did not lose his job and did not go to jail as Mireille did not press charges and there were no hospital records and no police had intervened earlier to have a case to present the general attorney. He was awarded visitation rights but limited to one hour per week and under strict surveillance but he never used those rights. Simon’s boss maintained his job more to help Mireille than for Simon himself. All those who used to like him before and enjoy his company now scrupulously avoided him as they could not understand how any medication could lead a person to behave like that with his family.

I saw Mireille from time to time when I did my volunteer work at the shelter. I used to take down notes while she talked with the social worker and the psychologist and marvel at how she could continue to think that she was to blame for Simon’s reactions. I never saw Simon and never felt the inclination to go and see what he looked like although I did go to meet Estelle or Mireille’s children a few times when I was not far from the suburb. Every time I entered the suburb I marveled at how people there could have been so oblivious to such human suffering a few meters away from them. I took a seat and looked on from the Café-bar as the sun slowly set and a crowd gathered to play rummy. The scent of gardenias filled the air from the nearby pots as dusk slowly fell and I watched Mireille and Estelle smiling at each other and exchanging jokes. Estelle was the only person at whom Mireille smiled but for all others she would only offer a sullen face. I took out my wallet to pay as I got ready to leave the place and head back home. Somehow, I felt that I too shared some of the guilt this suburb felt each time we looked at Mireille and like many others I tipped heavily and sighed with some sense of relief as I stood to leave.

I see you, I see me; I flee you, I flee me

I see you, I see me; I flee you, I flee me

26 September 2014

reflections

 

People see partners either as an extension of themselves or something that will allow them to be complete. Movies like the one where Tom Cruise spells out in words and in sign language “you complete me” have all focused on the idea that a man and woman need to be with each other because they would otherwise be incomplete and that they are only complete in the presence of one another. The west has thus unfortunately romanticized this notion to make it almost only mean the completion of two physical halves.

 

In reality, the reason male and female energies are required to unite by rubbing off on each other is that they lead to the healing process, the completion of ourselves within ourselves rather than with another and ultimately the gradual disappearing of dualities. Seeing the world with only one point of view, one energy can be detrimental to a person’s soul growth. This is true even in the case of people who are attracted by same sex partners. Indeed, the sex is not a true indication of the energy of a person. One can be a male with a very dominant female energy or a female with a very dominant male energy. The point of attraction would be the relevance of the other’s energy to ours and the mirror points of that person in disclosing the parts of ourselves that we have not reconciled within ourselves.

 

When we are confronted with something we don’t like about a partner, it is the Universe’s way of bringing to our attention something we need to work upon within ourselves. Rather than giving in to anger, hatred and all the fear-based spectrum of emotions that this trait or habit draws from us, we should dwell upon the fact that there is something to be found within ourselves, that resonates in a negative way to such trait or habit and that we are given the chance to examine this trait or habit, learn the lesson it spells out about our souls and seek to embrace it, heal it and reintegrate it back into ourselves in peace. When the lesson has not been learnt, that element comes back into our lives in a different form and sometimes its negative impact is multiplied tenfold until we have accepted to look into it and start the healing process. Sometimes, where the healing process was incomplete, the element will enter our lives again at a different level of tolerance where we don’t find it immediately abhorrent but still somewhat discomforting until we are able to finalise the healing process and either we don’t attract anymore that element or, if with the same partner, we are able to then help such partner in the healing process of that item – provided it was not a mere thought projection of that item into a partner who was actually devoid of such item and therefore does not require the healing process.

 

Our spiritual growth derives from the analysis of each such item that enters into our lives to determine the lesson to be learnt and then derive the related healing that should apply to that area of ourselves. The more we resist the analysis and therefore the understanding of what would bring about the healing of that part of ourselves we do not like or accept, the less we are able to love ourselves fully and therefore become the complete person we are meant to be.

 

Our life partners are meant to be catalysts and aides in the path of that spiritual growth. While they show us parts of ourselves that we are meant to heal, we too show them parts of themselves that they are meant to heal and the more open the process and devoid of fear-based emotions, the more it leads to the ultimate healing. Therefore, regardless of how much your human and/or flesh-based longing may be for a partner, do not dwell with those who are unwilling to walk with you a path of mutual spiritual growth.

 

While this is a generic point of view for most life partners, the matter should be treated a little more delicately when we think we are in the presence of our twin flame. Twin flames are meant to accelerate the path of healing to the extent that every mirrored area to be healed is brought out even more excruciatingly than with any other partner including soul mates. The relationship while including powerful and magnetic attraction therefore seems one of constant provocation and discord when all the indications leading to the healing are refused and not followed as the path to healing they are meant to be.

 

Sometimes, when one or both of the partners are not ready for this intense interaction, it is better to withdraw and ensure that the healing possibility is left for a future stage when the partner with the lower vibration is ready to resume the healing process rather than to break the possibility of this happening within the same lifetime. It is usually for the partner with a little bit more understanding and acceptance of the process of healing (the partner with a higher vibration level) to take the lead in withdrawing when such withdrawal is the only way of maintaining a future possibility of engaging in the healing process.

 

While most people tend to think that they only engage in a relationship at an equal level, in most relationships, there is a partner with a lower vibration level and one with a higher vibration level. What matters in deciding whether to stay in the relationship is the energy gap between both partners. The bigger the energy gap, the more difficult it is to bridge between the two partners and attain a common energy field. As I said before, for a person who is vibrating on a higher energy level to be frequently interacting with a person from a lower vibration level will be draining and will end up blending both persons at a lower vibration level. The more the lower vibration thrives, the more the partners are drawn into the material world of desires, attachments and fear-based living.  The more the higher vibration thrives, the more both partners seek less of the material world and more of how to alleviate human suffering of others.

 

If you are not certain about whether your partner is of a higher energy level or a lower energy level than yourself, a possible indication is whether that partner is more concerned by his/her own well-being even in the presence of more dire circumstances for an innocent bystander (for example, you and your partner are sitting in an area which is quite hot in summer and there is a beggar who is insisting on asking for alms and your partner is annoyed that you are in a good restaurant which allows beggars to bother you further while you are already feeling stuffy and uncomfortable – seems unbelievable but is a true story I have lived).

 

Other indications could include whether the person is always complaining, never happy with anything including those good things that happen in that person’s life. Sharing woes from time to time with one’s partner cannot be considered constant complaining but a good example of constant complaining is when a person who does not have a job for a while finds one that seems to be good but that person, instead of thanking the universe, complains that the boss seems a little bit tough and that there are going to be so many problems in getting to work because of the traffic, that the work is actually not so great, etc. Another example is when a person finds faults with something and its opposite and has shaky theories for changing sides in a very short span of time.

 

Another obvious indication of a lower vibration level is when the person is only concerned for his/her own welfare and does not engage in or even see the interest of engaging in activities that help alleviate human suffering.

 

So next time you are angry about something your partner keeps doing and think to yourself that this has been happening way too often and that you really don’t deserve it, just turn around, have a good look at yourself and ask yourself if there is really nothing to be learnt from the irritation you feel about this trait or habit in your partner. It is crucial to be self-aware when delving into the analysis of the situation and to be honest enough to allow all thoughts to come to you instead of automatically discarding any thoughts that bring you discomfort as being irrelevant to your situation.

 

If you can only find fault with your partner and none with yourself in a situation that causes you irritation, then you are not ready to grow and as long as you have not grown, you will always continue to run along the vicious circle of a life full of fear-based manifestations of your own rejection of yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Important note: Please do not send me requests for direct assistance with your situations to my email address as I experienced pursuant to some of my postings in the past. I simply share thoughts from life experiences and conclusions I have drawn thereon for myself because I have found these to be helpful to some people I interact with in real life. While I am open to sharing thoughts and helping where I can with brainstorming, please bear in mind that I do not profess to have a solution for your particular situation and you should seek qualified help if you are living a difficult situation.

Doll Tale 1: The painter and his muse

Doll tale 1 : The painter and his muse

18 and 19 September 2014

paintermuse10

Henry watched with half-closed eyes as his girlfriend scurried along to bring us the chilli flakes that she had forgotten in the kitchen. He did not seem very pleased of this new shortcoming and turned towards us with an apologetic sigh saying “you know, she is not very bright. In fact like most of her people she is quite simple minded and does not have the sophistication required to set out a table properly. Strange, however, that she would not know that this has to be served with some extra chilli flakes. Not all people like to eat bland food and that stupid idiot should know better as I have told her so at least a hundred times.”

Our common friend seated next to me had started feeling the atmosphere become a tad uneasy and shifting uncomfortably told Henry that it was perfectly alright and he was fine with the food as it was.

Henry simply retorted “Fine for you then but I can’t take this food like that. I eat spicier food than her you know”. His expression softened while he said this as he was visibly self-indulging in some gratifying thoughts about himself being such a tough guy.

Somehow, I could feel the food not going down well too but not for the same reason. I felt like saying that he should maybe cook the food to his own liking so that it won’t be an issue anymore but I just sat there gazing down stonily at my food as this was the first time I was there and had been invited by our common friend.

Malee came back from the kitchen bearing the chilli flakes in a bowl that she promptly handed over to Henry who simply growled at her playfully. I was expecting her to be rather put off by his behaviour and what he said as she surely would have heard him on her way to the kitchen with the apartment being the size it was but was amazed to see her draw closer to him and sit on his lap, eyes shining brightly. He merely smacked her bottom lightly and told her “you’ve escaped this time but next time I will really smack your bottom hard if you shame me in front of guests again. I’ve told you enough times how to serve the food here in Europe. You’re not in Thailand anymore where you can just mix it all at once. This time it was only friends but next time it could be buyers so don’t make me angry again.”

My gaze lifted to meet hers, eyes shining not with love like I had imagined but with a curious mixture of defiance and sadness. She seemed to be thinking I was judging her poorly and apparently resented me for it. I attempted a smile and trying to ease the tension complimented her on her cooking to which she nodded smiling back. We then resumed eating and once finished Henry showed me around the small apartment not as much for the actual rooms as it was a small two-bedrooms although with beautifully high ceilings and an amazing old wooden floor as one could only find in the old buildings in Geneva. The tour was more meant to show me his paintings which were quite astonishingly powerful depictions of the persons immortalized in them.

Henry was a brutish heavily built tall man with a tiny forehead, very small close set eyes and long hair he left loose as befitted his artist status. His hands which were huge seemed incapable of holding a brush properly let alone using it with such maestria to produce such powerful representations of other human beings. My attention was caught by two particularly striking paintings one of which caused me some embarrassment as it represented Malee crouching naked with her private parts fully exposed. In both he had captured that particular mixture of defiance and sadness that I had seen in her face earlier and her baby face with those liquid eyes seemed to be springing out of the paintings. Both paintings were bathed in dark colours with a deep crimson being a dominant theme as in most of his paintings.

“Lovely face and body right?” he said right behind me and I turned around startled to see him so close behind me.

“Don’t worry” he said mockingly “I am not going to jump on you as you came with a friend and I anyway have my hands full with Malee. At least for now” he added provokingly.

I rewarded his stupid comment with a crisp smile thinking to myself that he must be dreaming if he thought I would in any way be interested in him considering his caveman style of handling women.

We went back to the dining cum living room which was also the main room where he received his buyers and I asked my friend whether we could leave as I was quite tired.

A week later, we were invited to one of Henry’s expositions at a local gallery and I accompanied our common friend Peter who meanwhile had become my boyfriend. The place was crowded with sophisticated and glamorous people side by side with ill-shaven and shabbily dressed artists together with a few journalists and some art critics. There seemed to be some true art lovers but most seemed to have come to be seen and enjoy the wine and delicacies being served. Everywhere there were paintings of Malee some of them very provocative and some where she dumbfounded me with the pure innocence that emanated from her face in the paintings. For the male audience, this seemed to have a very different effect than on me where I was merely considering the human aspect of things. All the men were gathered around her, eyes fixated on her body, trying to guess through the clothing the curves that were splashed all over the gallery in crimson, burgundy, green and other shades that exuded rawness and sensuality. Henry watched from a distance a smile on his lips and seemed to be enjoying the scene.  A few hours later while we were all laughing and dancing to the music, Henry came up to me asking where Malee was but I had no idea and told him so. Some thirty minutes later I saw them both come back into the gallery from a side door and waved at them. Everybody was enjoying themselves immensely and Henry seemed to have sold quite a few paintings that opening night itself.

The party finished past midnight and as there were no trams anymore, we decided to walk until Carouge and have something to eat before we accompanied the couple back to their home nearby the hospital where we would be sleeping too for the night as we were too tired to walk all the way back to our apartment. We fell asleep fully clothed as we were exhausted before we were awoken by screams and the sound of furniture being moved around and some plates being broken. Peter and I rushed into the next room just in time to see Henry haul Malee over the window sill and then proceed to hold her by the hands yelling at her while she dangled out of the window screaming. He looked insane with his beady eyes alit with anger and his fleshy mouth twisted with rage and Malee, face chalk white, was screaming and pleading for him to pull her back into the room. Peter lunged out of the window while I held on to him fearing he would fall over and attempted to bring her back inside the room while Henry was yelling at him not to interfere as he “need[ed] to teach the tart a good lesson”. At the end, Peter was able to grab enough of Malee to haul her back into the room and we all fell on the ground panting with me going into shock.

Later, after Peter had coaxed me into having a small glass of strong alcohol as I did not normally drink, we split into two parties and I stayed with Malee in the room where Peter and I had slept while Henry and Peter stayed in the other bedroom. I could hear Henry ranting and raving and many times when he had worked himself back into a fit of anger he would attempt to come back into the room where we were sitting and abuse Malee verbally. On one of the occasions he actually entered the room, caught her by the hair and was attempting to drag her by the hair across the floor and back into his bedroom before Peter stopped him by holding him in a vice-like grip at the neck. Henry was too strong for him, however, and had soon loosened Peter’s grip and sent him reeling against the wall. Having done that, he seemed a bit appeased though and did not seem in a mood to hurt Malee again but just went back to his room where he locked himself in.

Peter came back to where we were sitting huddled and tried to calm me as I was shaking. I had never seen someone switch from such a normal behaviour to a stark raving lunatic so quickly before and definitely not within my direct acquaintances. Malee sat there crying and asking us to help her go back to Thailand. She wept and said that she had come here to earn some money as she had a family to feed back in Thailand but could not take it anymore. Henry started yelling from the other room that what she was doing here she could well do in Thailand and save herself the trouble of having to pay taxes and living in a foreign country as prostitution pays everywhere. To which she retorted with a string of sentences in her language that was pronounced colourfully enough to make us understand that it was abuse she was flinging at him. As soon as she heard the door unlocking at the other end, however, she sat quiet and still again and soon the oncoming footsteps’ noise receded and we heard the door lock again. We removed the sheet from the small bed and put it on the ground so that we could sleep all three of us together as the bed was barely enough for two people to sleep in.

Upon waking in the morning we showered and had breakfast while Malee sat there prostrate, wide-eyed, neither talking nor crying. I tried to coax her into having a shower and something to eat but she simply stared through me and at the door of Henry’s bedroom. Suddenly, the door was unlocked and Henry fully nude appeared in the doorway and I watched with disbelief as Malee sprung out of her chair and flung herself into his arms. He looked at her triumphantly and said “that’s my girl. Don’t ever make me angry again” while she beamed back at him nodding in assent. The door locked behind them and we soon could hear that they seemed to be making up very noisily. I stared at Peter torn between relief, uneasiness and fear that something could go horribly wrong again. He merely shrugged back at me and said “artists” and held his hand out to me. We walked out of the apartment and pulled the door shut softly behind us so as not to make the neighbours complain more than they probably were going to do during the day. The neighbor facing Henry’s doorstep was out and was looking at us suspiciously with inquisitive eyes. “So he did not kill her this time” she said in a grating voice. Peter smiled sweetly at  her but I could see from his eyes that he did not mean it at all. “No he did not yet, you can wait for the spectacle next time, I am sure you will eventually be satisfied” he retorted coldly. She gave us both a disdainful look and went back haughtily into her apartment.

A few weeks later we heard during a chance encounter with Henry at a café that Malee had left him. I thought she had returned to Thailand but it turned out that she had eloped with one of the buyers who incidentally had been the cause of that night’s scene as Henry had caught them on the opening night of his exhibition not only kissing but also planning to spend some time together. Henry seemed heartbroken and was telling us that he could not understand why she would want to be with such a man who had no personality and was a stuck up rich man’s son and was only interested in Malee as he would be interested in any new gadget.

I looked at Henry, head in his hands, elbows resting on the table, so brutish and I had thought so insensitive but he seemed truly heart-broken so I kept my thoughts to myself and merely patted him on the back. How could he not see that she could not continue living in the conditions that he had made her live through with him. It simply escaped me that their relationship could have lasted so long as it seemed they had been together for over 3 years. How could a woman take so much abuse and still continue living with the same person. I was barely 22 then and could simply not understand it.

Henry straightened himself up, looked me in the eye and sighed saying “I lost my muse and I don’t know if I ever will be able to paint again”. He paused then added “She was so easy to live with, never complained, always did things immediately the way I wanted her to do them.  I can’t be with a Swiss girl you know, they are so full of themselves so I will have to find another Thai girl or someone asian again”.  I bit my lip as I felt some nasty words swarming up my throat and begging to be let out of my lips. Instead I just gave him a thin smile, waited for Peter to pay our coffees and then gave him a cold peck on his cheek before saying goodbye.

The next time I saw Henry again, he was in what I found out to be his manic mood again and he was in couple with a beautiful though tiny Japanese girl. Heartbreak long forgotten he was bustling with energy and his apartment was crammed with paintings of his new muse but that is another story…

Doll tales

Doll Tales

11 August 2010 and 17 September 2014

Dolls15

Girls play with dolls and then move on with their lives. Boys play ball and then play doll with their wives.

 

It occurred to me when I was taking the highway and a few words flung at me harshly several years before by an angry boyfriend came back to mind “Of course, for you women it is either my way or the highway”.

There had actually been no argument, no reason for the word flinging other than me trying to explain to him that it was not the appropriate time for me to travel anywhere as I was passing my exams. The lad had then made it a point to travel with a couple of friends including a female friend with whom he took many pictures and he made it a point on his return to show anyone passing by the photographs all the while trying to make me jealous.  Upon finding he was unsuccessful, things then became pretty mean and tasteless and ultimately we had to break up because too much meanness had spoilt the initial good feelings.

The recollection of that incident and the insistence of the men who were trying to date me – some of whom I actually dated – on trying to bend my will to meet their requirements or mold me to a satisfactory image as per their standards made me smile. There were also other recollections of a more somber nature. I remembered not without a dark foreboding the number of women who had come to me for moral or financial support, many of whom had been verbally, psychologically and sometimes physically abused by their husbands. Countless tales of husbands finding the food too tasteless, too salty or not having the food warm, or having issues with the wife spending too much money, looking too insistently – as per their often wrong impression – at any man happening to pass by during that day. Any and every reason seemed a good enough reason for an argument, a showering of abuse or sometimes a beating. I remembered the number of couples I had sat down with for dinner and how the husbands had boasted about their wife being “trained” or “refined” by them thereby acquiring poise, a sense of style, an understanding of being demure. One even boasted about his wife being a good girl in public and capable of putting to shame a prostitute when in bed.

Beyond the tasteless aspects of those claims, I was bemused at the common denominator, the silver thread that ran across all those recounts and which clearly indicated that these men seemed to be doing what girls did once upon a time to their dolls “sit Sally. Drink your tea properly. Now, now, be a good girl; that’s not the right way to drink tea”, “what shall we wear today: the green jacket or the brown pullover? I am sure you will like the green one better”, “No you don’t know what is best for you, let me dress you up or you’ll get cold [while it was burning hot outside]”

It struck me then that somehow, maybe this was the reason such things happened. Deprived of the possibility of playing dolls during their childhood and of having that sense of getting to be an all powerful being who could determine the life of another – the closest concept to being God – men wanted to be able to satisfy that sensation with the only other being within their reach who would accept such a game.  Who better of course than “the weaker sex” omitting the mother who would be unfit for such a role and the sisters, often quickly removed from their sphere, leaving only the girlfriends and subsequently the wives?

Now don’t get me wrong and go calling me a feminist, a male-hater and all those silly things that one would be attempted to bring forth as a claim to invalidate the reality of such matters. Those who know me really know I am a far cry from being a male-hater although I could come across as more of a feminist as I do have a sense of my own independence.

I recognize that many men do not suffer from this syndrome and are fine with giving liberty to their partners to be themselves rather than a molded version of their mothers or their ideal archetype. I also have no problem with being in a couple myself and have no issues with couples where both are in a balanced relationship and the wife/lady does not mind having her husband/partner decide on most matters for her. What I have a problem with is men systematically demeaning their significant other and abusing them, thereby causing them physical or emotional trauma.

Pondering on all the incidents I had observed over the past twenty or so years and on all the misfortunes I had seen play before my eyes or heard from friends and sometimes people who were close to strangers, I thought that there was so much in common between so many of them that it might be helpful for some to read and know about them. This way, women (or men) could compare their own situation to what they had read and determine whether the “small mistreatment” they were undergoing was worth it, whether that “small smack” on the face was an isolated incident, whether it made sense to continue in the circumstances they were living to believe that everything would be alright as long as they listened and obeyed, whether it was really them the problem or whether it was something else.

I decided to write about all those stories and in a twist of wry humour chose to call this series “Doll tales”. From this week onward, I will attempt to write one” Doll tale” although some might take me more time when they actually have more ramifications. Feel free to share with me your “Doll tale” either through comments or you can ask for an email if you wish to share your experience more privately.

Coming up next: The painter and his muse (doll tale 1)

I am WOMAN

I am WOMAN

16 September 2014

rainbow26

 

You look to me for a common standpoint

A vague throbbing ghost of what I should feel

A hushed stance you’ll like lest I disappoint

With my own views so fierce and yet so real

 

I am none certain yet clear in my mind

For unworthy I’ll stand no reference

I will walk neither in front nor behind

From this mine stillness make no inference

 

I am clear water in the muddy reef

I am its coral and its beating heart

I turn in many lives a renewed leaf

Forever is your end and is my start

 

I am WOMAN and hold this gift up high

Seek not this power for me to forsake

Free will a will so free may not deny

So will your will my will thus stand to break?

Collecting days

Collecting days

14 September 2014

autumn2

Leaf after leaf falls

From the oak tree as wind blows

Orange autumn calls

In memory of earthen spells

A mind its past brooding quells

 

A slow parting kiss

Blown by a waning sunlight

Sends shivers through skies

The earth stilled by the morrow

Gathers itself in respite

 

Moody butterflies

Scatter rebellious new trends

Colours burst alight

A wailing banshee in shreds

Chases hooded hounds that skulk

 

The nightingale shrill

Keeps tone to a higher hue

In silence it yearns

Collecting days like pennies

Thoughts of winter heave in heart

All within

All within

13 September 2014

earthwoman

Contain me not
For I contained the earth
That pierced flowers in me
And branched me into trees
Swaying silently

Contain me not
For I contained the desert
That scorched my skin
And polished my bones
To glaring quartz

Contain me not
For I contained the ocean
That lapped my wounds in salt
And decorated my hair
With broken seashells

Contain me not
For I contained the winds
That blew through every memory
And scattered the sounds of you
Like empty drums

Contain me not
For I contained the skies
That gazed upon all tearfully
And filled me with a tidal wave
Sweeping all remains

Contain me not
For I contained all in hope
Then scourged my wilderness
And let go all, contained none
Not even I