Violence, oh Violence

Napping on the bus. Photo: Sergio Leyva

HAVANA TIMES — The young woman got home in a really good mood, carrying five pounds of rice, three pounds of peas, a cabbage and a piece of chicken she bought at the El Zun Zun market, a place that is always busy throughout the entire year. At least food for that day was guaranteed, and saving as much as possible (like we Cubans are forced to do) it might even be enough for an extra day.

Happy with what she had bought, she took out the things that had cost her waiting in long lines as well as a lot of money. She was going to change her clothes when her husband with an angry face said, well shouted really: where the hell have you been, is this a time to come home?

Startled, afraid too, she remained paralyzed, speechless.

She wasn’t expecting this kind of reaction. They had only been living together for two months, but he had never spoken to her in this tone before. While they were going out, he was the most loving man in the world, that’s why she couldn’t believe what she was hearing.

Look here, what’s going on? Did something happen at work or at your mom’s house?, she asked in a soft tone trying to keep calm and also trying to prevent him from more shouting.

Look, nothing is wrong with me – he shouted again – you’re my problem. This isn’t a time to come home to your husband, who do you think I am, eh? Don’t think you’re going to excuse yourself with this cabbage and this piece of chicken.

The next day, Tamara told her partner of just a couple months, very calmly, to leave the house, that they had only been together a short time and look at how he had treated her, that she wouldn’t put up with him or this or any other form of abuse, that he shouldn’t even dream about that.

When she told me what had happened when we were at work (we were classmates at university and old friends), I told her that the best thing to do would be to forget Raul. That he hadn’t even waited a year to bare his teeth. That if she stayed with him, she would regret it for the rest of her life, that this violent scene had just been the smoke signal, that the fire was yet to come if she stayed in that relationship.

However, like many women who are abused, Tamara felt she was to blame for what had happened: that she should have gone straight home after work, that she didn’t tell him she was going to go to the market, that she really did take a long time, that something else or another… Well, she forgave him, without imagining the storm of anxiety that was waiting for her.

It has already been 10 years since that first act of violence, the only thing I can tell you is that this was just the tip of the iceberg, the iceberg came later…