This is a piece of autobiographical fiction. Space and time have been rearranged to suit the convenience of the book, and with the exception of public figures, any resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidental. The opinions expressed are those of the characters and should not be confused with the author’s.
This story is written as an example to anyone who wants to believe that we are more than the patriarchy deems us to be, more than our limitations, and more than our fears.
15th April 2020
I’m in England, crouched over a pair of pink shoes. I’m washing dirt off a five-year-old’s shoes in exchange for a bed and food. The food is passable, the accommodation is not great, but at least there’s a lot of peace and quiet in the neighborhood. Space for me to think.
A few days ago, I celebrated my 28th birthday with the 5-year-old girl and her mother. I found them on the workaway app and I decided to spend a month with them in Oxfordshire, England.
Even though I had mentioned a while ago that it was my birthday, they forgot about it. I reminded them again on that day itself and got a day off. During that day, all I did was have a picnic with them and bought a bottle of wine to share together. It was a really nice night.
Now as I’m scrubbing the pair of pink boots, I start to recall what had happened during my birthday a year ago.
(Flashback to April 2019)
In the parking lot somewhere in Boat Quay, we are full on fighting. It sparked off from something so foolish, but neither Gideon nor I know how to deal with this.
I had planned his birthday earlier on in the year, I invited a bunch of his friends but they couldn’t make it and so I invited some of our mutual friends instead. It went okay but I had a feeling that it wasn’t the kind of birthday he would have enjoyed.
Today however, was my birthday celebration with my bunch of friends. My good friend Samantha planned for all of it. We went to a bar, went to a club and then had supper together. It was a really nice birthday celebration but now, Gideon and I are fighting. The fight is bad. It’s one of the worst we’ve ever had.
“All I said was that I helped to pick the venue, why would you get mad at me for that???” Gideon had said with his arms up in the air.
“Why would you want to claim credit for doing something so lame like picking the venue? You’re my husband, wouldn’t you know what I want for my birthday? Shouldn’t you be the best person to know what I would want to do on my birthday? You don’t know me at all and you don’t care to plan a birthday event for me” I am yelling at him loudly.
“Please, let’s stop fighting, please. Can we just go home?”
“No! You go home on your own. I can’t even stand to look at me,” I had continued, my rage was uncontrollably. Where the repressed anger came from – I knew. But this wasn’t the right thing to bring it up.
“Okay….I’m sorry b. I’m really sorry. You’re right, I should have planned a better birthday for you. I’ll do a really good one next year okay? I’m sorry. I love you.” Gideon said to me, lowering his voice.
His apologies always soften my heart and I get in the car. We don’t speak the whole way home and when we arrive in the carpark, I get out of the car and slam the door shut as hard as I can. He reacts by slamming the door to the carpark. When we get home, he immediately showers and goes to bed. I sit on our couch in the living room and I feel steam coming out of my ears.
I was fuming. I had so much repressed anger and rage, and all he could do was apologize.
When is he ever going to love me in the way I need? When is he ever going to know what I want without asking me? Why do I have to tell him everything? Why does he not care enough about me?
(Flash forward to April 2020)
Could I have handled that a better way? Could I have tried to understand his perspective better? Why did I need to make such a big fuss anyway? It was just a birthday. I remember that he had specially picked two bottles of alcohol and bought a bunch of bar tools for me that birthday. Why didn’t I fixate on that instead? Why did I only focus on the bad things instead of the good?
Perhaps if we had gone for therapy way earlier, things wouldn’t have come to this point.
The guilt inside of me was so loud and so big. Even though it was already dark, I took my flashlight, put on my shoes and I take a long walk again. I walk to self-reflect. I walk to talk to myself. I walk so I don’t go completely insane, ridden with guilt.