The November rain lashed down. Angry, aggressive.
Maria hated the retreating monsoons – they made her feel like she was drowning deeper into the lonely ocean of despair. Icy, cold, struggling to keep afloat with waves choking her as she gasped to find her way up.
But she saw no way. No direction to manoeuvre out of the sinking world she lived in. 20 years of marriage and she went deeper into hopelessness. She tried to think how it had gotten to this stage, but her mind was a mess.
Over the years it had become a living nightmare that spiralled without even much consciousness. Her husband Akhil had turned from that gentle soul into an angry, abusive man. To everyone else he was the finest, gentlest soul. But in the privacy of their home he morphed into volatile, manipulative monster. If Maria conformed and took his verbal abuses and insults there was a bit of calm. But if she tried to voice her opinion or even utter a word, the storm would erupt, throwing her deeper into the abyss. The water had become dirty, smelly like sewage.
Choked with the oppressive air weighing down on her, Maria sat in silence, watching the slanting rain lash against the window. Tears streaming down her face. The rain drops against the window blurred through her tears. She didn’t even know why she was sobbing, but it was a release from the tightness in her chest.
Akhil wandered into the verandah. He saw Maria sitting in the dark all alone.
Now what’s wrong with you?
Nothing, she said, trying to stop her tears.
Then why are you crying again? Maria could sense his temper flare.
What do you “want”? Akhil asked, angry, yet helpless and pleading. He could never understand why she felt this way. He saw no reason for her misery.
They had grown apart – once lovers, best friends – now two strangers living under one roof. One a circus trainer and the other a docile animal who winced every time the trainer raised the whip. It was all about masculine control. Maria’s head was crowded with a thousand answers as to what she “wanted” – she wanted her breath back, she wanted peace, happiness, gentleness, soft words, patience, appreciation, love, intimacy, sex – God knew her void which was gaping open with a raw gash that only she could see. She let the tears flow down her cheeks as Akhil watched her in rage – a rage that mortified her.
A narcissist never acknowledges his behaviour. He would never understand his victim. He was helpless in his rage, yet he would always use victimhood and manipulation to make her feel as if she was the cause of this toxic situation, simply to gain power over her. It was always her fault – in any situation. Maria had broken down completely. Her self esteem, her self worth, her desire to laugh, her innate aliveness. She was so scared of his unpredictable anger that she had to watch her facial expressions, her posture, her tone whenever she spoke. If they were not docile, Akhil would burst into irrepressible rage and torment.
The emotional abuse, the taunts, the constant denial of his behaviour after an outburst, the lies – Maria was done with it, exhausted from overthinking, fear and often crying herself into the pillow night after night.
I want out, she said softly through the tears.
I want out. I want to leave.
Akhil was silent. The rain beat down even more, as if to intensify the tension between them. Maria waited for his response but there was none.
If he said a loud ‘yes’ would she feel the weight lift off her chest? Would it free her from being his victim? Would she have the courage to leave and start a new life all over again? Would she, for the first time in many years, breathe and rise to the surface of the water again.