“We are taught to respect fear more than ourselves. We’ve been taught that silence would save us, but it won’t.” Audre Lorde She had to go out for a party with him that day. He’d be back from office any moment and she was running out of time. There she stood in front of the mirror with make up brush in hand wondering how she would cover up the nasty bruise beneath her eye. He was so angry after he gave her that bruise, he’d always be careful not to hurt her in places where the world could see but this time he slipped up. He’d broken her ribs once and cigarette burns lined her legs, but to the world she was his ever smiling beloved wife. No one saw the hidden screams behind her smile, the winces of pain she concealed and bathroom visits she needed to ease her breathing and take her painkillers. But eventually even painkillers ran their course and gave up. Pain was a way of life now. What was this pain compared to the pain in her heart and soul? He wanted her to wear a purple sari that day. She knew purple suited her, after all she wore it everyday in the form of the bruises that covered her skin. She still remembered the day he had proposed to her, she was so in love that didn’t even notice that he’d put the ring on her finger before she had even given him her answer. He never listened to her. Her voice was just like an echo through his mind when his rage consumed him. When her screams annoyed him or he was afraid the neighbors would hear he’d gag her. Her blood seeping into the carpet didn’t matter to him. It was just another mess for her to clean. I’m sorry he said. I love you so much it hurts he said. Can’t you just stop making mistakes? He said. Suddenly the sound of his car entering the garage broke her out of her trance. She rushed to the door. She could never make him wait because he hated it. The bell rang and she opened the door. There he stood looking at her. He smiled at her and said “You look beautiful”. Nausea filled her stomach but at the same time relief. He was satisfied. She was safe for now. She played the role of a doting wife to perfection that night at the party. She smiled at the right times, touched his arm and engaged in conversation, but like every night he had too much to drink that night. As he tumbled through their door she hoped that he’d just pass out. But her luck wouldn’t have it. And once again glass was shattered and the carpet bleeds red with her blood. When he left for work the next day she stood in front of her bathroom mirror with a bunch of her painkillers in hand. She thought if they can’t relieve her pain temporarily then maybe, they could relieve her pain permanently. As she brought the pills closer to her mouth she thought her parents who spent all their savings on their only daughters’ wedding. Everyone was so happy that day, she remembered dancing all night with her friends. What a happy bride some relatives said disapprovingly, too much enthusiasm isn’t suitable they said. Brides are meant to be meek they said. She remembered laughing away their taunts. Now she thought of that happy bride and felt sick. Seconds away from consuming the pills, she remembered a number she saw on TV. It was a domestic violence helpline and once again she thought of that happy bride with dreams. With shocking clarity she realized that bride deserved a chance to live. She deserved a chance to the break the cycle of abuse. She dropped the pills, picked up her phone and finally decided to fight back. ———— About the Author: This article is contributed by our intern, Ahana Roy Chowdhury.