The first time I saw her was on the eve of Yaya’s birthday. I was making Yaya’s favorite fish cutlet when she came in to the kitchen to say Hello to me. It was about 9:30 p.m. Because fish cutlet is a very labour intensive process, I was making it the night before.
I remember seeing her eyes and thinking, she has the saddest eyes I have ever seen. When she came, we had already finished dinner and I thought she looked hungry. So, I fried few fish cutlets and made a bowl of soup for her.
Her existence was a bit of surprise to me and I had not anticipated her arrival. My son told me that there is a classmate of his who needs urgent accommodation because her life is at stake and there was not enough time to ask for more information.
Every year, for my children’s birthday, I bake their birthday cake the night before, so they can wake up to a surprise birthday cake in the morning. I only started the baking process after they had gone to bed. When they were little, they used to try and stay awake to see what I was going to bake and I waited till they slept. There were times I baked the cake at 2 a.m. when the monsters finally slept. Once my son woke up in the middle of the night and ate half of the beautifully iced birthday cake I baked for his sister and we all woke up to a surprise half eaten birthday cake and fridge door covered with icing.
She was sleeping on the couch in the living room and I guess I was making too much din while baking the cake. She woke up and came to me and asked if I needed any help. I didn’t. I was making tea for myself and I made her one too and we started to talk.
She told me her story.
Her father was in his 50’s when he came to Australia and shacked up with a woman to continue staying here and in the process had three kids with her. The woman is an alcoholic and drinks two bottles of wine a day. He buys the alcohol because he feels feeding her the alcohol is a lot easier than dealing with the violence that follows when the woman doesn’t get her drinks. Neither of them are employed and have no money. They take every dime the kids earn to pay the rent and bills for the house. Spending 16 dollars on an average a day for wine means there is no money left for food. For months the kids only had bread and sausage. The woman has some issues with the girl and deliberately attacks her every chance she gets and like every child in an abusive relationship, she thinks what she is going through is normal. Besides there is no escape for her.
I have been in her place and I know just what she is going through.I told her that she can stay with us as long as she wants.
Just like I did, she misses her family, runs back to them, get attacked, escape and then this cycle repeats.
A few months after the first time my son brought her home, they started to date.
The mother in me looks at this relationship and is worried like hell. She is totally messed up. She is insecure, has regular panic attacks and is a lost soul. She will need years of therapy to get over all the traumas she has gone through. How can I wish my son to have a terrible future?
The woman that I am, the one that went through shit and still managed to pull up to reach where I am, I know I am the only hope she has.
Who do I save? My own son or the girl who is my own reflection.