"Just hanging out with a friend, Honey”
he said, with his back turned to us as he spoke lovingly
to his wife
who sat miles away, on that set of islands we call our Motherland,
on the other end of the phone line.
She sat there
that the woman he said was “just a friend” was really his girlfriend
and my mother.
My mother took that first insult without blinking.
When he finally said, “Goodbye” to his devoted wife,
All my mother
said was, “How is she? She sounds wonderful.”
And he said, “Oh, she’s great! But… not as great as you, baby, of course.”
What she should have said was, "I didn't know you have a wife."
That was just the beginning.
He wasn’t a happy drunk to say the least.
Once that copper colored liquid Bacardi slid down his throat
and his blood rose
to fill his Philippine-tan skin
to a flaming crimson,
that fury seemed to boil through his “nice guy” mask
and turn it into ash.
What we found underneath
was a monster
who had no qualms about beating her.
I heard screams and thumps through the walls,
as he ripped her drawers
She would give up, and let him enter her,
let him gain his pleasure by himself,
and spill it into her,
and leave her to clean the mess he made.
And if she said no,
Then the slaps to her face
would commence once more.
We knew that those slaps meant he saw her as nothing more than a bitch.
My mother took that insult without blinking.
A few months later, I went to sleep
alone in my mother’s bed,
and woke up with the monster next to me.
He fondled a part of my body
that was only 5 years old,
so unknown and unexplored
that it didn’t even know what it meant or
how to respond to being touched that way.
It only knew that it shouldn’t have been touched that way.
I pretended I was still asleep, my eyes shut tight
despite the pain of his unsacred hands.
I knew then that, to him, I was like his wife and my mother:
nothing better than another
I hate myself for it, because
I took that insult without blinking.
I think he knew I was awake.
Because after that day,
he couldn’t look at me straight.
He knew I had the power to speak,
to tell my mother, my school, the police.
Unfortunately, I didn’t know
I had the power to let them know what he did,
let them put him in jail for all the wrongs he committed.
See, what he did was clever.
If he couldn’t look at me straight,
then he would make me see myself crooked, too.
I became his new chew toy.
He would beat my mom, sometimes he would beat me
and blame ME for it.
Then, when I didn’t let him boss me around,
I became the world’s biggest, laziest, lousiest, ungrateful shit.
His twisted psychology worked.
I began to hate myself so much that
I could take all those insults without blinking.
In 2005, six years after they first met,
Mother became diagnosed with breast cancer.
And you can bet,
according to him,
it was my fault the doctor’s said she was going to die.
I was, apparently, the source of all the stress
that made her shave the hair off her head
and the doctors to chop off her breast.
I believed him for some time.
Believed I was worthless, a no good, a waste of a life.
But when my mother died,
I finally realized I wouldn’t live with that monster anymore.
And as I grew older, I began to adore
The young woman I saw in the mirror.
I remembered my intellect, my talent, my worth.
I remembered that I have the ability to work
for what I want, regardless of how much that monster tried
to tell me other wise.
I began to pride myself in my womanhood
and understood that my gender never
had a thing to do with the measure of my strength.
And I vowed that if I am ever to take another insult,
I still would not dare shut my eyes for a second.
But that doesn’t mean that my mouth will follow suit.
I have learned to not cower in the presence of a man
whose overblown ego gives him the allusion that he can stand
in front of my light.
I refuse to let a man think he can take away my right
to speak or think or exist.
And if he thinks he can raise his voice or, God forbid, his hand
to strike me,
and if he thinks he can do so without consequences,
I know I have the power to show him consequences.
I will never take another insult without using my voice,
or any other means necessary,