I have often seen you late at night,
With a plate of food growing cold
I see that distraught face
The restless glance
Moving between the TV screen and the plate and the bedroom.
But there was one spot the eyes favoured the most;
I have seen you gulp the food down quite often,
Gulp the food and finish a chore.
Sometimes you probably do try to eat well;
But those tears make it hard
I see you choking over the morsels
Then again, at times you are too tired to cry
Or maybe angry on certain nights
The food still remains an unwanted task.
If you won’t eat,
He might yell harder.
You need to look normal all the time, remember?
Even with those bruises and a cut; here or there
on your face
or the arms.
You have to smile despite these
Almost like a war veteran,
Proudly showing off the scars
Only you weren’t fighting an enemy in that bedroom.

Did you ever realize I used to be in control too?
I didn’t have scars on my face, or my arms or my neck or the stomach.
But I had them within
Where no one could ever see them.
So my job got easier.
Of looking normal,
Pretending that I didn’t know what was going on.
Pretending that this was a routine in most households.

It had to be, right?
You were at it most of the days.
Of course there was some respite every now and then.
And it was funny how he thought I would use those breaks to ‘share and spend time with him’.
Was it too hard to understand that I wasn’t looking for breaks?
Was it not evident that I was scared?
I was building my foundations of what a home is all about.
I was letting my mind process how hard a marriage was going to be.
I scorned myself each time I broke down and needed someone.
I stayed away from everyone just to hold onto this dirty little secret.
Coz while you kept saying this was all routine,
Something within told me it wasn’t.

I know this is all long gone.
I have moved on from the fear and the darkness
So have you.
And so has he.
We all have, in our own ways.

But you know what still remains?
The hurt. The disappointment. The want for warmth.
Years later, when I still see you gulping the food down in a way I have come to know too well,
I know some things never change.
But at least one thing did –
I have accepted this to be a routine now.