I Never Understood Mother

It was raining that night, the night I killed him.

was eleven.

It was very cold in the house and there wasn’t a warm corner. Mother had tried to make biryani. She had purple bruises all over her face from last night’s dinner when he had spat the spaghetti on her face and then pissed over the table.

I had slept hungry the night before. She trembled, praying that he would like the biryani.

I never understood that woman. He would abuse her, demean her, beat her up, rape her and still she wished to please him.

Not a shred of that devotion was ever directed towards me. I was given birth to and forgotten. He came home that night, wet and sodden, the smell of cigarette rife in his filthy mouth.

He rattled the door on its hinges as he came. He threw off his clothes and sat on the dinner table, his naked body reeking of sweat. I sat at the table but couldn’t eat for bile traveled to my throat because of his stink.

Before I even knew what was happening, he was smashing mother’s face into the table. He twisted her arm so hard it broke off. Then in blind fury, he tore off her clothes and started raping her, right as I watched, powerless.

Something snapped then.

I heard mother scream for the first time.

To this day I cannot figure out what that scream was for, because he had beaten her up much worse. Maybe because I was witnessing this naked atrocity that broke her resolve.

She howled in pain. But no neighbor ever showed up. No one wanted to dirty their hands by helping the filth that my family was. Her scream filled me with pure white rage.

My breath came in short snorts as I forced myself to think of a way to stop it. I looked around like a deranged lunatic, for anything that I could throw at him, anything that would make him stop hurting mother.

I found the carving knife that mother was using to cut the meat in my hand. I raised the knife as high as I could and plunged it into his back with all the force my tiny body could muster. His pig-like grunting stopped as his humping stilled.

I put all my strength and twisted the knife that jutted out from his back, the handle slick with blood. His blood was all over my hands and face. He turned around and looked at me, his face twisted with anger, his hands reached out to strangle my small neck.

But I jumped out of his reach. He fell onto his knees, blood streaming from where the knife had left a gaping hole in his flesh.

With a limp between his legs, he looked at me, the impotent bastard, and his eyes were clear for the first time in his life. Clear and begging for mercy. I found no mercy in me to spare.

Mother looked at me with horror, screaming as I took a hard iron rod and smashed it into his skull.

For every time he had struck mother, I beat him.

For every time he had struck me, I beat him.

I beat him long after he was dead. I beat his body into a pulp.

Mother kept screaming at me to stop. I did not. She hit me with her unbroken arm, she hit me until I was lying on the floor fighting for each breath.

She hit me for killing her husband. I never understood why. I had rid her of the monster that had made life hell for her, and yet she never forgave me for it. The police came when the neighbors notified them.

They had to come because he was dead.

My mother testified against me in the court, telling how I had beaten her helpless husband to death. I was sent to a correctional facility.

I never understood mother.

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