it's 15 years, 24 days, 7 hours and 5 minutes after that one morning today.
she is waterworks, sitting on one of the couches I helped her buy when she moved in, and I am fire, drenched from walking so vigorously in the rain it leaves stains. there are dime sized bruises on her upper arm, a hastily bandaged wound on her forehead, her lip is split- she is waterworks, and right now I am fire.
15 years, 24 days, 7 hours and 5 minutes after that one morning today and my mother, sitting across from my sister in law on the couches I helped buy when she moved in, wonders where did she go wrong, wonders what happened. 'she must have said something to provoke him' she says in a room that doesn't include her daughter in law. 'he would never do something like this'
I want to say I told you so.
my brother, 9; we are putting on some make up, we adorn him with a dupatta, he smiles like he's the rainbow, asks us to take pictures of him in a pretty purple lipstick. my brother 11; talks to us about how he adores the Power Puff Girls, feminine shows like The Winx Club, some Barbie movies, my aunt restlessly shuffles in a seat as if it's suddenly grown spines and says 'but you're a boy'. my brother 13; wants to shave his legs, his arms and face because he's growing faster than the boys in his class & my mother hides away the scissors and the razors. 'are you a girl?' she is furious. 'men are supposed to have hair.' my brother 13; hits me the first time, 'you know he get's angry quick, why provoke him' when I tell my mother.
when my uncle bashes his wife's skull in for exercising in the main room at night, their 12 year old daughter calls all of us, and my family finds her mother's hair scattered all across the living room -the remnants of a struggle. my aunt leaves with her two daughters after 16 years of an abusive marriage and the stories start- she must have planned this all along, how else did the police get there so fast, how else did her family get there so fast, why was she 'dancing' in the main room at night with no one watching you know it makes him angry, she deliberately provoked him so she has an excuse to leave, she planned on having her skull bashed in -anything, you know, literally anything was acceptable aside from something that places the blame on my uncle.
15 years, 24 days, 7 hours and 5 minutes from today, my brother 14.5, broke our snow-globes, grabbed my sister by the hair when she came in between him pushing me against a wall, picking up a shoe and beating me with it, we told him to pack his things and leave the room that we shared. he woke my parents up at 7 am to tell them a story of how he accidentally broke a snow globe and we banished him from the room 'is this how you raise your daughters' he screams at my seething parents, who scold us instead. angrily, I retort back, and my dad, thriving off of the high of a drama, goes apeshit, screaming and banging his chest and comes to beat me when I tell him the actual story, 'you are an abomination. i will leave this house. you are a disappointment'. from then on, we were to do our own laundry and cook our own food the way women are 'supposed to'. my mother watches the spectacle unfold, adding how we never should have gotten an education because this is what education does to girls, 'bolna seekhee hain' (they've learned to speak now). my brother gets breakfast in bed, his laundry made, neatly folded into his new cupboard.
he learns violence and we learned to speak up but only one thing is considered wrong.
my brother's story at 14.5 takes precedence over a 20 and 18 year old's story combined.
15 years, 24 days, 7 hours and 5 minutes later I stand by the doorway, watching the waterworks that is my sister in law, try to tame down the fire that is me as I watch my mother make excuses upon excuses- anything to take the blame off of the monster that she helped create- and try not to tell her I told you so.