Chris’ car was parked in front of his mother’s house when we arrived, and seconds after we pulled up, he came striding out of the house towards us, a grim, furious expression on his face and pent-up rage in his gait.
My heart instantly began to pound with fear. Fortunately C.G saw him at the same time that I did, and with a typical child’s innocence not recognizing how angry his father was, he scrambled out of the car, and ran to throw himself at Chris with excitement.
“Daddy, daddy,” he called happily, halting Chris’ progress towards the car, as he stopped to scoop up his son.
However, with a sinking heart, I realised the respite C.G had provided was only temporary, as Chris carried him into the house and reappeared moments later without him to resume his march towards the car.
I was carrying out the last of the shopping bags from the backseat, half my body bent into the car, when I was violently jerked back by my hair, only to receive Chris’ fist straight in my face.
Only his tight grip on my hair stopped me from falling to the ground, and before I could react to the blow with more than the start of a scream, there was another, then another.
It took the cab driver a moment to realize what was happening, and because we were on the opposite side of the car, by the time he got to us, Chris had managed to land another two hard punches.
“No, please don’t,” the driver pleaded while grabbing his hand and pulling him back.
Chris resisted him for a while, and they struggled for a minute or two, until Chris apparently feeling I was not worth spending more energy on, finally released my hair and stepped back.
“Get her the hell out of here,” he spat, and then turning on his heel, stalked back to the house.
The cab driver did not need to be asked twice as he helped me up and back into the car, before speeding off just in case Chris changed his mind and returned. Apparently almost as shaken as me by the attack he had just witnessed, the driver did not say a word until we were joining the main road.
“I’m so sorry about that, are you alright? Where would you like me to take you?” he asked with concern.
“I’ll be fine, thank you; just take me to Kireka please. I’ll direct you from the trading center,” I answered through hiccuping sobs.
Back home, I quickly let myself into the house, thankful that there were no neighbors milling about to see the state I was in. Once inside, I headed to the bathroom on shaky legs to clean up and see just how bad the damage Chris had inflicted this time was.
When I caught sight of my face in the bathroom mirror, I groaned.
My lip was split and looked twice its usual size, my left eye was almost swollen shut, and my right cheekbone had a rapidly swelling bump as well.
In my experience, no matter how many times a woman is beaten by her partner, she never gets used to it.
And as I stared at my battered face, tears coursing down my cheeks, the horror of those few minutes when Chris had attacked me came flooding back and I started shaking afresh; so hard that I actually wrapped my arms around myself as though to keep myself together.
Although my horror was mainly at Chris’ violence, another detail of the incident kept playing through my head too; when the driver had helped me up and back into the car, I had noticed Chris’ mother silently standing on the porch watching us.
I did not know how long she had been there, or just how much she had seen, but she did not look bothered by what she saw, had not made one move, or uttered one word to stop her son in his rampage.
It was not until then that I realised just how deep her own hatred for me ran.