When it hurts to go home
After a lazy day just after 8pm DG realized she needs to pack in some exercise for all the goodies she ate at the afternoon potluck. Before she changed her mind she decided to go as she was in a churidar suit, that has no pockets. Her new phone is the size of a brick she was reluctant to carry it but decided against it. Too many decisions to make before she steps out of the door. She had thought of downing a quick 5K and be back home by 9pm.
A summer evening by the river is a busy scene families, friends, couples, joggers, walkers and few loners like DG mark their time. Just few yards before she hit the mid mark a tiny Asian woman may be in her sixties dressed in all black to the teeth a full sleeves hoody pulled up on her head, track pants with white stripes and a bag on her shoulder caught her sight; she looked as if she was fresh off the boat. On her way back this same woman crossed her may be past few hundred yards. Her walk was painfully slow a slug would beat her. DG checked her phone for the time she wanted to get back in time to call it a night but that voice she told you all about came from nowhere. “Are you okay?” she asked that woman in black. “Yes, I am fine.” “Are you sure?” “Yes, I am.”
Suddenly DG used her DG voice (curt one), “No, you are not. You look sad. What is the matter?” The lady tried to shrug it off,” it’s just a family matter.”
DG: Are you safe to go home?
Lady: I don’t want to go home. I just came back from work.
DG: I can give a you hug, we can sit there on the bench and we can talk, you can tell me what is hurting you.
Lady crumbled in her arms, don’t know when these arms became so strong. As they sat down she started , she is terrified to go home because the minute she steps in her husband will start with his tirade calling her names, yelling at her and cursing her and her dead parents. At 69, she was working 10-14 hour shifts in packaging industry on her feet just to stay out of the home. All her life she worked and worked hard to raise three children and few grand kids now she worked for her sanity. Previous night she said, she stayed by the river until 11:30pm soaking wet in the storm finally making her way to a friend’s home to sleep and leave for work at 5:30 in the morning.
He never laid a finger on her she professed but his words are becoming acerbic by the day more so since she stopped retorting few years ago. His choicest were to blame her for being happy and enjoying outside the house though she spends all her time at the back breaking work and accusing her dead parents. Though she said, her children were not aware of her plight as she doesn’t tell anyone and he is known for being a quite person who doesn’t speak beyond exchange of greetings. Adult children are not blind, sometimes they just choose to turn their faces away as they don’t want to pick sides or parents never taught them how to do the right thing. She wanted to talk but had no one she could speak to in her mother tongue (Thai).
She talked DG listened while her mind raced faster than the setting sun. She told the lady, “it should not hurt to go home.” “You have a right to peace and peace in your own home. There is help available and you are not alone. I SEE YOU and I HEAR YOU.” She made few phone calls took the woman to a women’s shelter instead of Domestic Violence Shelter. There the staff told her about the services and living arrangements if she wanted to stay tonight and gave her some food. She chose to sleep at her friend’s place as she had to go to work early in the morning. Tomorrow the centre will start working with her to find her own place as she wishes. Her voice and demeanor changed after this short visit. She was no longer invisible. Walked her to her friend’s home and came home by 11:00pm. The lady in black kept wondering why she walked past her usual path and how come only DG saw her while hundreds thronged the riverfront. DG sees you because once upon a time she was you.
Home they say is a place made of hearts where souls and soles find peace after long tiring days. While typing this post DG recalled all the times when she and many others did not want to go home but had nowhere else to go either. One time a young woman told her how everyday she spent an hour in the car in the parking lot at work just to get some respite for once she was home there awaited demands and complaints. She had a car so she could say the traffic was bad but all those who don’t have cars or travel by public transport cannot say, they missed the bus or metro every single day. To her weekends were a torture. Yet another said, she feared going home because the atmosphere weighed her down and another said, “I am homeless it is his home I live in.”
Every time there is a mention of home DG is reminded of “Chaipau” of Salaam Bombay and many kids like him who runaway to escape the perils of so called home. Most street children are runaways and they run to escape the abuse within the homes. Habitual runaways, whom police write off are often teens who want to flee the toxic homes. It should not hurt to go home…