“Mary, umeosha nguo? Na wapi chakula yangu?” Mrs. T yells from the living room. I run to serve her food and rush back to wash the clothes. It’s 1.00 am and she just got back from a trip. I am exhausted and cold, but I know what would happen if I don’t wash the clothes she just dumped in the laundry room.

I bend down slowly and begin my work. The ribs don’t hurt that much anymore. It’s been a week and I think they are healing well. I hear her coming and hasten my pace. She will be angry if I take too long. She stands at the door staring at me for a very long time saying nothing. I refuse to look up, and pretend I don’t know she is there. I finish washing the clothes and move to take the out to the clothesline.

She looks down at me and says “Leave them. Utapeleka asubuhi” and walks off. I sand there for a long time wondering what got into her. She has asked me not to do something for once. I am worried but I slowly walk around the house switching off the lights and head to my room. I have to be up extra early to hang the clothes.

Sleep does not come easy. I struggle to lie still on the tiny metal bed. Any movement and the bed will squeak. She hates any noise coming from my bedroom. I lie staring into the dark, and my mind wanders.

I look at my son laughing and running around with his father. I smile and continue cooking dinner as I stare out the window. My stomach moves and I rub it gently. The little one is getting restless, it’s almost time. I think of the first time I gave birth three years ago. It was painful, but I wouldn’t mind going through it all again. I look out the window again at my son; he is definitely worth the pain. ”Just a few more days baby.” I say as I rub my tummy

“Mary! Stupid girl. Bado unalala?” Mrs. T’s voice interrupts my dream. I jump out of bed confused. What did I do this time? I don’t have time to think about it as the door to my room opens and she storms in, whip in hand. I start trembling. I know what is coming next; I have been through it before. The room is tiny and with her in it, there is nowhere to run. All I can do is stand and wait for her to pounce.

I can no longer feel the pain. She has beaten my body till I’m numb. I don’t know how long it’s been, but she is not tired, and her anger seems to be increasing. Blow after blow lands on my body and I no longer try to block them. I lie there tears streaming down my face and I think about my dream, the only place I’m ever happy.

Will I get that life? To be happy with children and a husband? I want that, I want a chance to be a mother and teach my children how to walk. Laugh with them and my husband. I want to love my children the way my parents never loved me. To protect them from the evils of the world. As she hits me I want it more now than ever. Breathing becomes a problem and her image becomes a blur as I stare into space. I want to be happy, to have a family, to be loved. But most of all, I just want a chance to grow up.