Remember that beating you got when you were a kid? Yeah I know they were many but remember that ONE that got you shaken up for a moment. No not the school ones. From your parents. From Dad? Surely you remember. Of course you remember. You remember it like it was now.
It is an evening as warm as today’s. Your mom walks in the house to find you ‘just seated there’. You look at her. She, at you.
‘What are you doing home?’
You start explaining but figure out the suspension letter can summarise it best.
In the middle of reading she takes a seat. She looks at you. You, at her. She finishes reading it and lets out a sigh. She mutters something under her breath. You do not quite catch it. Or cannot believe she just said,
‘I birthed a demon child.’
You decide no need to explain yourself. You would just take the discipline like a man. You expect that slap. The slap that is going to keep you disoriented enough for her to get the rubber water pipe. She stares at you and you brace yourself.
‘Wait till your father gets home. I cannot deal with this.’
Now you find the need to explain yourself. You do not want this issue escalated to a higher authority. It might not end well. Can’t we just handle this among ourselves, you think.
‘It’s not like that Mom,…’
She raises her finger to cut you short. Tells you she will slap you until you can taste her bones. You are not a fan of bones so you shut up. No need to make the beating a double. You do not want to get beaten up by both of them. One beating is fine enough.
She goes to prepare supper. You notice your younger siblings peeking at the corner. They have nothing but pity for you. You try to save face. You go to their room to assess the strategy. What to say and how to say it. Your siblings try to tell you what works for them. You try to tell your little sister that it’s her cuteness that saves her. You are no longer cute. Puberty hit you like a miraa pickup. You are the third ugliest guy in school and babies start crying when they see you. You say a silent prayer.
‘ I know we haven’t spoken since the last time I was in trouble but I swear to you God, if you save me from this one, I will never, NEVER….’
The engine rev startles you out of your trance. He is here.
‘Supper is ready!’
Mom shouts and you all go in the living room. Your siblings are first and you hear dad all excited to see them. Then he sees you and the smile disappears.
‘Oh. You are home.’
It is a question. Not a statement. You ponder on whether to explain or show the letter. The letter seems to have a damaging effect so maybe talking it out might soften the blow.
‘I was like suspended because like…’
He cuts you short.
‘Let’s eat first, ok. We can talk later.’
Cool. You cannot taste anything though. It is ugali, sukuma and beef for supper. Your favourite. But it taste like wood chippings. Did mom do something to it? Why are you sweating? Oh look the siblings are already finished and gone. What time is it? How long have I been eating?
The first slap catches you by surprise, mid-chew. Not even sure it was a slap. All you know is you are now on the floor next to the food that was in your mouth. Your body clenches up and adrenaline starts pumping. This is it.
‘I can explain! Let me explain! That teacher hates me!’
You scream as you shield kicks and blows. Already you can tell that this is the biggest beating of your life. Fists? Kicks? Where was the memo saying we had upgraded from slaps and belts? It continues to rain fists. He is saying something but you cannot hear. You are saying something and he is not listening.
You are now under the table trying to understand what is going on. You had totally missed the part where your mom explained to him what happened in gross detail. You had missed the chance to soften the blow.
The table is now no longer over you. Where is the table? You cannot see because your face keeps hitting fists. He is now mad that you are hurting him. He ask you why you like to torture him like so?
‘Let me explain,’
‘Explain it to God.’
It is at this moment that you realize that you are not making it to see the next day. He is now hitting you with a baseball bat on the head and back. Where did he get that? Oh it is the table leg. Did he break the table to…
‘I am sorry. Forgive me. Please. Stop.’
You cannot even say full words. Skull thuds punctuate the words. Finally, the beating stops. The ringing in your ears does not. It hurts all over. Vision is blurry and reddish. Your mouth is full of saliva. No wait, your taste buds are back. Your mouth is full of blood. Vision clears for a moment and you notice that he stopped because he is tired. He is sweating. He is taking a break. Afro Sinema continues shortly.
The ringing is now clearing up too. You notice you little sister crying. You are not aware she had begged for your life. Your mom is still telling him to stop. She has tried to make him stop for a while. You look at her? This is all her fault. There are people outside the door asking what is happening. You hope it’s the police. It’s not. You make mental note to escape if you ever survive this and report him to the police. You know the police do not care but surely, this time, they will? Right?
The people at the door are easily convinced that you are the devil and they go away. The commercial break is over. Back to the action drama. You are blocking hits with your arms up but your hands are too close to your face so you are just hitting yourself when your arms are punched. You extend your arms further in front of you to prevent this. You extended them too fast. One arm touched him. You hope he does not think you were swinging to hit him.
‘Oh so you think you are man now? Huh?’
He removes his coat and rolls up his sleeves. He is about to kick it up a notch. Was he not giving you his best. You raise your hands to show you did not mean it like that. You drop the phone that you had not realised you were grasping. But you hit the floor before it does. He is now banging your head into the wooden floor. You start seeing new colours. Is this Heaven? The punches to the chest, head, stomach, legs. You are feeling paralysed. You have screamt your lungs out and you cannot take it anymore. You give up and just lie there limp. You do not feel the kicks anymore. You know there are there but you just do not feel them.
You hear your mom screaming that you are dead. You wish you are. Now she is fighting to get dad off you. He stops and asks you to get up. Unfuckinglikely.
You continue lying there wondering how you got there? Did you have to steal the money? Did you have to try to impress that girl? Did you have to convince her to sneak out of the school with you? Could you not afford a better motel? Don’t you see that’s why they think you stole money to go sleep with prostitutes? As you lay there, covered with blood, piss and tears, you realise you hate everything and everyone.
That brutal beating was a few years ago. But looking back, you are glad it happened, right. Because that beating prevented you from being a thief who goes to receive rushed handjobs in dark alleys. You tell yourself that you would do the same to your kid if they did a mess as big as yours. Or that you might still beat them, but only with open palms not closed fists. You are thankful for the experience because, despite it being a tad harsh, you turned out alright.