It was like a fish market. I was trying hard to find the room number for my first class but all my attempts were failing. It was my first day of university.
“Ah! Only if everybody stops pushing me, it would be so easy.” I thought to myself.
I was just strolling around like a homeless person when I got a hard push and I bumped into someone.
“Oh! I am extremely sorry.” The girl said to me.
“No, no, I am sorry. Somebody just pushed me from behind and I fell on you. Are you OK?” I asked her looking worried.
She was a very pretty… no beautiful girl and she seemed sweet.
“Yea I’m fine, please don’t worry” She said with a silly grin on her face. “Hi, I’m Roseline Hiegal”
She stretched out her right hand to me and smiled.
“Hello, I’m Angeline Stephen.” I took her hand and smiled back at her.
Soon we discovered that we had our first class together.
“What a coincidence?” She said out of surprise as well as pleasure.
Even I was glad to find someone to be with in a place where everybody was alien to me.
And that was the beginning of our friendship. Initially, I saw Rose as a young, energetic and intelligent girl but as I got to know her more, I found Rose as a beautiful human-being as well; she was a kind-hearted, loving and caring person. It was so easy to get along with her; being nice to her just came out naturally from me. It was very soon that we became close. We did everything together; from fun to studies. We were always together.
I became very fond of Rose and I admired her in every way; she had everything. She was pretty, she was intelligent, she was rich, and she had loving parents…just everything. Her life was perfect. She always seemed happy and full of life. And I envied her for that. Not because I was jealous of her happiness but because….I didn’t have that kind of life. Her life was my dream.
It was not like I never had a good life. I do have some truly amazing and sweet memories of a happy family that we were used to be. A loving and spoiling father, a caring and fussing mother, a protective and pleasantly annoying big brother, a cute and little princess sister and me. It felt as if our heaven was on earth; and that heaven was our home. There was no time to be sad because we used to be so busy in staying happy and in loving each other. But then one day, just like every good thing has to come to an end, our beautiful fairy tale also came to an end. And it was not a happy ending.
Three days after Josh’s seventeenth birthday, he died in a car accident. And that’s how our life shattered. We were devastated; mama just couldn’t believe that her son was no more, I was grieve-stricken; Josh was only 2 years older to me so we were just like buddies…best friends, Lucy kept asking when would Josh come and take her to the play-land; poor kid she was only 9, and dad, he was in the worst condition. He thought he was responsible for Josh’s death as it was he was driving the car that day; he was driving fast and he was a bit drunk. From that day on wards dad was not dad anymore.
He started to come home late at night being drunk. He became abusive towards mama and us. Soon he got fired from his job. With every passing day he became worse. He also started beating mama when she would complain about his reckless behavior. One day when they both were fighting and dad was just about to hit mama, I jumped in between; I tried to stop dad, begged him to come back to us but in return I only got his beating.
“Oh! My doll, what has he done to you, my darling doll.”
Mama kept sobbing and rubbing my swollen jaws tenderly.
“Mama…it hurts, it really hurts.” We sobbed together in each other’s arms.
For one thing we were very grateful that Lucy was unaware of all the drama; by the time dad came home she mostly used to be asleep. However, at the age of eight, the poor kid had been deprived of the fatherly love.
Because of dad’s violent behavior I had to skip university sometimes; obviously I can’t go to university with a swollen face! So I had to make excuses like I fell down the stairs, I banged in to the door, I tripped over Lucy’s scooty laying on floor (Ok! I know it sounded lame but I had to come up with a new excuse every time so didn’t have much choice). I used to do that because I wanted to avoid facing people and looking at their horrified expressions and listening their horrified reactions; “For the love of God!! Angeline what did you do to your face!!!” or “Angeline! You look terrible!” and bla bla. Therefore, it was better to shut myself in room and AVOID! But Rose was Rose, no matter how much I begged her not to come to see me, she just wouldn’t bother to listen and there she would be… sitting in front of me and examing my face with wide eyes.
“Seriously Angee! Why the hell can’t you LOOK and WALK??? Trust me it’s not that difficult; You ONLY have to TRY!”
“And seriously Rose! Do you REALLY have to come when I actually BEG you not to and EMBARRASS me like this…ALWAYS!”
Even though I used to ask her not to come but deep down I did want her to come. Because she always used to cheer me up, make me happy and showed me the lighter side of life which I so don’t get to see much in “My” life. I never let Rose know about dad’s behavior; I didn’t feel comfortable about discussing it with her. Although, we shared each and every little or big things but somehow we both very seldom discussed our family life with each other. So to Rose, dad was a loving and caring but a very busy father who mostly remains away from home due to business trips; that is why she doesn’t get to see him much in my university functions or at home.
“You must miss your dad a lot?” She said one day
Yeah! miss my OLD dad a lot…I thought to myself.
“Fathers are very important, specially for daughters; their presence gives a sense of protection, they encourage their daughters to move ahead without any fear and assure them that he will always have their backs.” She said with a very somber tone and her face became so serious; I have never seen her like that before.
‘Protection‘…. ‘Support’….Really? Are Fathers suppose to make you feel that way? I guess only GOOD fathers make you feel that way; like Rose’s daddy. After all, he is always around to support her, protect her, encourage her and appreciate her work. That is why she thinks of fathers as a “Protector” and “Supporter”, because her daddy is like that to her. “Lucky you, Rose!” I said to myself.
“Angee?? hello??? What are you thinking?Did I say something wrong?” I was so much engrossed in my thoughts that I almost forget that Rose was actually talking to me.
“Oh! umm….no…You are absolutely right. Fathers are suppose to be like that!”
“Suppose?? What do you mean by that? They ARE like that! Look at your own dad; even though he gets to spend very little time with you but still, you know you can always talk to him, you know he’ll always be beside you whenever you need him.”
Yeah right!… How badly I wished that it was like that but…
“Yes Of course, I know he’ll be there for me,” I said with a fake smile.
Sometimes it was so hard to pretend that things in my life were normal. I had to really work hard in hiding the truth from Rose because she could always tell whenever I am lying.
But one day….she found out the truth.
Rose came to my place for our arts term project. We were preparing the report in my room when suddenly I heard dad’s shouting and my heart almost stopped beating…
“Get lost from my face you bitch!….Don’t touch me; I don’t need anybody’s support. I can handle myself okayyy!!!”
“Shut your big fat mouth, YOU MORON!!! You don’t tell me how to behave…” Then there was a loud sound of slap which was followed by mama’s shriek and the bang of the door. Then silence prevailed.
Upstairs in my room I went completely still. Rose was bewildered.
“What’s going on? Who is shouting like that, Angee?” she asked being completely panic.
“My dad,” I told her sternly with a blank face.
“What??? Your dad??? You didn’t tell me he was back in town and why is he shouting at your mum??”
“Because that’s what he always does!!! OKAY!!! He just SHOUTS at mama and me every time he’s home!!” I retorted at her and she was baffled.
“And by the way, I didn’t tell you that he was back because he never went ANYWHERE!! I lied to you…did you hear me?? I LIED!!! He is not a busy father who doesn’t gets to see his family much; He is a drunkard who beats his wife and daughter like an animal!!”
I was shouting so loudly that my throat started to ache. My entire body was trembling. I fell down on my knees and started to cry hysterically. Rose ran over to me and took me in her arms.
“Oh Angee! Please don’t cry, why didn’t you tell me before” She was sobbing too,” I would have listened to you.” I let her hold me for a while and then I told her everything; from Josh’s accident to dad’s sadistic behavior.
“It is OK! It’s going to be fine!” She said rubbing my back and soothing me.
“Nothing is going to be fine!” I broke away from her embrace and yelled.
“It has been 3 years now! Nothing is going to be fine, did you get that!!” I yelled again.
“Look Angee….” She started to say as she moved close to me.
“NO! DON’T!…Don’t try to patronize me!!” My screaming made her go still.
“You can never understand how it feels to see your father turned into a monster! You can never know how painful it is to get beaten from your dad! You can’t imagine how agonizing it is to see your little sister being deprived of fatherly love!! And you don’t know how it feels to see your mother never being able to walk again….all because of your OWN FATHER!!”
Rose’s eyes went wide and her mouth fell open as she heard last words.
“YES! it is because of my dad that my mama can’t stand on her feet! He pushed her down the stairs!”
“SURPRISED, aren’t you?? You must pat me on back for hiding all of this from you till now. I am a brilliant performer, aren’t I?” I laughed out.
“You didn’t have to hide, Angee. You could have told me and…”
“..let you pity me!! Feel SORRY for me!!” I squealed.
“For God’s sake Angee, what’s wrong with you??” She looked hurt. “We have always shared everything! I would have comforted you only!”
“I don’t need anyone to do me any FAVOR! I don’t need anybody’s comfort…I’m fine without it…OK!” I glared at her.
“Yea, I can clearly see that!” She said plainly and with this, she turned and walked out of the room.
My entire body was shaking. I walked towards the window and looked outside; I saw Rose walking towards the street with her hands tightly wrapped around her chest.
What have I done! I had only one true friend and I just broke her heart.
All of a sudden I felt myself being the most unblessed person on earth.