By Fatima Ebadat Khan
“Get up! You worthless woman! Get up now!” the drunken shouts of Tehmina’s husband mingled with her terrified, blood curling screams of last night echoed in her ears.
As her eyes snapped open, it took her a minute or two to take in her surroundings. She found herself lying on the cold marble floor, wearing what remained of her already tattered clothes, which were now in shreds.
Tehmina tried to lift herself up but regretted this almost immediately as this slight movement made every nerve in her body twist and agonizing pain rippled through her body. Screams escaped her lips as she mustered the strength to lift herself from the floor. At once she collapsed onto the hard sofa. Tehmina peered at the blackish – blue bruises that her husband had inflicted upon her in his last night’s fit of rage. Carefully avoiding her face and neck, Asif’s merciless blows and kicks across her body, his ruthless abuses night after night made her feel almost inhuman now. Night after night, his cruelty had turned her into nothing more than a disgusting animal to him and he was her tormenting master.
“Where is my money? Hand over your salary or I will make you regret you were ever born Tehmina!” he growled at her.
“I do not have it yet Asif! Baji said she would give it to me next week. Please!” She remembered sobbing uncontrollably. But yet again, she could not escape his wrath.
She remembered asking her employer, who she had been working for as a maid in her house for almost three months , a advance on her salary but she had refused. Asif, being unemployed, relied on her to keep the house running. Tehmina was the sole breadwinner for her family of eight. She knew then that when she would arrive home, there would be hell to pay for as she arrived empty handed.
She cautiously stepped into her bare house, where Asif was lounging on the bed. The smell of stale drink coming from him filled the air. The children were clustered around him, dressed in clothes that were either too large or too small for them, given to Tehmina by her employer. She thought of it as a blessing to even have her children clothed. Questions about her salary were her husband’s greeting. She felt his menacing gaze fixed on her as she explained she would not receive it till next week. She sensed his impending murderous anger, as did the children, who hastily scurried away one by one when their father threw the empty bottle of liquor on the floor.
Tehmina remembered him hurling abuses at her, saying that she was worthless, not worth the dirt on his shoes, with his fists raised, ready to strike. At first her screams and cries were loud enough to make the ground tremble until one sharp blow across her cheek silenced her and she subjected to his constant beating till she became unconscious.
As she lay on the sofa, unable to move anymore, tears streaming down her face, she heard heavy footsteps entering the house. At once, Asif came in the room. It appeared that he had not been home since last night and was holding a bottle that Tehmina assumed to be alcohol. Asif walked up to her helpless form. Early in the morning, she could still smell the fresh drink off him. Little did she know that the worst was yet to come. Looking into her eyes, he threw the bottle of acid on her face and Tehmina knew no more.