Blinded But Not Defeated

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In June 2011, Rumana Monzur’s visit to Bangladesh turned into a nightmare when her husband, the father of her child viciously attacked her.  He robbed her of her sight and disfigured her face because she wanted to pursue a higher education in Canada.   “He has made my world dark.  I can’t see my daughter,” she told Bangladeshi newspaper, The Daily Star.  She couldn’t see her daughter’s face.  He was arrested days after the attack. Doctors were able to reconstruct her face but they couldn’t restore her eyesight.

Her world was plunged in perpetual darkness.  She underwent psychological counseling. Her story captured headlines and the world watched as she courageously recovered from her ordeal.  A month after the attack she moved back to Vancouver with her daughter.   Two years later she finished her Master’s degree and decided to pursue law.

On Wednesday, May 24, 2017, Rumana received her law degree.  As she stood there, trying not to cry as she said goodbye to the University of British Columbia which had been her home and a source of solace and strength to her for seven years, she admitted to crying a lot during the first 18 months.   It was a challenge not being able to read any more and having to be helped around the campus.  But she soon realized that she just had to keep going and what encouraged her was how nice the people on campus were toward her.

As a little girl, Rumana had dreams of becoming a pilot which for her would have been very liberating and free.  However, she chose, instead rising sea levels and environmentalism as her field of study because Bangladesh, more than most places, is at risk from climate change.   Then, her world changed in 2011 when she returned to Dhaka to tell her husband, Syeed Hasan Sumon that she wanted a divorce.  He reacted by trying to rip her eyes out with his hands, biting off the end of her nose and ripping flesh off of her cheeks and one arm.  He told her, “I wanted to kill you with acid, but good for you I couldn’t find any.” He died in custody of an apparent heart attack six months after the vicious assault while awaiting trial for attempted murder.

Why didn’t Rumana leave this abusive marriage earlier?  She explained why in an interview.  “It is hard to have the courage to stand up to social norms, social stigma,” she said. “That mindset that if we talked about it it’s shameful for yourself, it’s not at all like that. I thought like that too, that if I share it with anyone it’s a shame for myself.  I wanted to look like I was happy in my marriage, that made me socially acceptable, that’s what I thought.”  It is truly sad when the abused feels shame when it should be the abuser who should.

Rumana wants the women in abusive relationships to know that they have options. “The power has to come from within. I didn’t have the courage to stand up for myself for a long, long time, and look how I ended up, right? I paid a huge price. I want them to know their lives are precious and they should not accept something which deteriorates their capacity and potential. Life is full of opportunities, they need to know there is always a way out of those abusive and brutal relationships, it’s not their fate.  Not only women — men, children and elderly people, violence is not something worth tolerating, you need to get out of it as soon as possible.”

It is my hope and prayer that women in abusive relationships will leave the first opportunity they get to do so.  No marriage or relationship is worth risking your life for.  As the Bible says, women are created in God’s image and are of great value to Him.  A woman was meant to be a man’s companion, helper, supporter, etc. to be loved and appreciated.  She is not to be trampled on, abused, mistreated, neglected, discarded or devalued.  And success is not supposed to be gender bias.  Success comes from the Lord and it is for everyone.  It takes a special kind of man who wouldn’t feel threatened by his wife’s success and aspirations but will offer her his complete support.

What kept Rumana going after she was blinded and brutalized? “What I told myself is, ‘You have three options now,’ ” she said with a smile. “I told myself, ‘You just fell in the garbage, what can you do now?’ Either I can stay there, or I can try to stand up slowly, or I can stand up as quickly as possible and start to move forward.  As you can see, the last option was the most acceptable and so I chose that. I didn’t want to stay in that garbage. I didn’t want to lose hope.”

Kudos to Rumana for her courage and her determination not to remain down but to stand up quickly and move forward.  She wrote the exam for law when everyone thought she was crazy for doing that and today, she’s a lawyer with the federal Justice Department.  You have to admire the tenacity of this phenomenal woman.

Sources:  The Daily Star; Vancouver Sun;

Toshiro Consoles Ife

Polo-Ralph-Lauren-Pre-Fall-2019-Campaign03“What’s the matter, Ife?” Toshiro asked.  He could tell that something was wrong.

“I found out yesterday that Damba, my ex-husband was killed in a road accident.”

“I’m sorry to hear that, Ife.  Is there anything I can do for you?”

She shook her head.  “No, there isn’t.”

“When is the funeral?”

“It’s on Friday.  My manager gave me the entire day off.”

“That was very thoughtful.”

“Yes.  I’m very grateful to him.”

“How is Miremba doing?”

“She’s devastated.  He was her Dad and she loved him.”

“What about you?  How are you holding up?”

“It’s hard.  We knew each other from childhood and were married for ten years.  I can’t believe that he’s gone.”

“How old was he?”

“Thirty-five.”

“The same age as me.  Did you love him?”

Ife shook her head.  “No, I didn’t love him but I cared about him.  We got married because I was pregnant.”

“You know I would understand if you want to go home and be with Miremba now.”

She got up from the chair and walked over to the window.  “No, I don’t have to leave right now.  Miremba is with her uncle and his family.  It helps her to be with her cousins right now.”  hC64MrmM_o

Toshiro went up behind her and pulled her against him.  “I know this is hard for you, Ife.  Although you didn’t love him, he was still a big part of your life.”

Ife relaxed in his arms as she stared out the window.  “Yes, he was.”

He turned her around to face him, his eyes searching hers.  “We don’t have to do anything, you know.  We could just talk if you like.”

Ife shook her head.  “No, I don’t want to talk right now.  Maybe later.”  She moved away from him and walked towards the bedroom.

He followed her and after closing the door behind him, he went over to where she stood beside the bed.  His heated gaze met hers before he took her in his arms.

“You can stay here for as long as you like,” he told her some time later as she lay on her side with her head resting on his chest.  He had his arm around her, holding her close.

“Thank you,” she mumbled.  She wished they could remain like this forever.

“I wish I could come to funeral just to give you my support but, unfortunately, I have a very important meeting.”

“I understand,” Ife replied.  She was really touched that he wanted to go to the funeral for her sake.  It sparked hope inside her that he was developing feelings for her.

“Although I will be absent from you in body, I will be present with you in spirit.”

“I know.”

“Where’s the funeral going to be held?”

“At my church.”

“What time is the service?”

“It’s at 11 after the viewing which is at the funeral home and it ends around noon.    After the graveside service and burial, there is a repast at the church.”

“I’ll understand if you would rather be with your family instead of coming here.”

“No, I’m still going to come–at the usual time.”

“When you come, we can just talk if you like.”

“All right.”

“I would like to send flowers to the funeral home.  Before you leave, could you give me the address?”

“Yes, I will.  That’s very kind of you to want to send flowers.”

Toshiro closed his eyes in despair.  He wanted to tell her that it had nothing to do with kindness but would she believe him?

Next up is The Conflict.

Source:  Bible Hub

Toshiro Learns About Miremba

Toshiro

When she showed up in the suite on Saturday afternoon and saw him wearing a red tee shirt and a pair of jeans, she was shocked.   She wasn’t used to seeing him in casual clothes.  It made him even more attractive and irresistible.

He smiled when he saw the way she was looking at him.  It was obvious that she really liked what she saw.  He should dress more casual whenever he was with her.  Perhaps it made her more comfortable and less class conscious.  “I’m so happy you came, Ife,” he said, holding out his hand and when she put hers in it, he pulled her against him.  “I hope it wasn’t too much trouble for you to come today.”  Yesterday when they saw each other, he arranged to see her regularly on the weekends as well.

She shook her head.  “No, Mr. Kobayashi.  It wasn’t much trouble.”  Fortunately,  Miremba was spending the weekend at her cousins’ house.

“I wish you would call me Toshiro,” he murmured huskily before he lowered his head and kissed her.  They kissed for several minutes before he took her by the hand and led her over to the sofa where they sat down.  He was still holding her hand.  His eyes met hers as he laced his fingers through hers.  “Why did your husband and you divorce?”

“We grew apart.”

“How long were you married?”

“Ten years.”

“Do you have any children?”

His question startled her and she looked at him warily.  “We have a daughter.”

“How old is she?”

“Thirteen.”

“What’s her name?”

“Miremba.”

“Why didn’t you mention her to me when I asked you if you were married?”

“I don’t know,” she said.

He excused himself, got up from the sofa and walked over to the desk.  He returned holding two tickets which he gave to her after he sat down.  “These are for you and her.”

Ife glanced at them and saw that they were tickets for the ballet.  She looked at him.  “You didn’t have to,” she said.

“I wanted to,” he replied.  “Please take them.”

She got up and put them in her handbag.  “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.  You look so beautiful.  That color suits your lovely complexion.”  He reached for her hand again.

“Thank you.  This is the first time I have seen you dressed so casual.”

He smiled.  “I know.  I saw the way you reacted when you walked in.  You were shocked.”

She smiled.  “I was.”  950969-500w

He reached for her hand, the same time he lowered his head and kissed her on the shoulder, making her catch her breath.  He raised his head.  “Let’s go to bed,” he said, his eyes restless on her face.  He stood up and pulled her to her feet.  Still holding hands, they went into the bedroom.

“How old were you when you had Miremba?” he asked some time later as they lay next to each other.

“Seventeen.”

“That’s pretty young to be a mother.”

“A mother and a housewife.”

“If you hadn’t gotten pregnant, would you have gone to university?”

“Yes.”

“How did your family feel about the situation?”

“If my parents were still alive, they would have been really upset.  They were strict Christians.  Irumba was very disappointed.  He’s been encouraging me to do something worthwhile with my life.”

Toshiro rolled on to his side, his expression tense as he looked at her.  “Who is Irumba?” he demanded jealously.

“He’s my older brother.  He’s married and has two daughters.”

Toshiro relaxed.  “What does he want you to do with your life?”

“He thinks I should quit my job here at the hotel and find a better one.  He told me about a company called Paper Craft Africa.  Their products are sold in local hotels and gift shops.  They employ young, single mothers like me and the company’s right here in Kampala.  I promised him that I would check it out.”

Toshiro became tense again.  He got out of the bed and walked over to where his robe was.  He put it on.  “Why haven’t you already checked it out?”

“I don’t have the time,” Ife said, watching him.  “I only have half-hour for lunch and I can’t go after I finish work.  And by the time I leave here, the company is probably closed.”

He turned to face her.  “Have you called them to find out what their hours are?”

She shook her head.  “I don’t have the number.”

“Didn’t your brother give it to you?”

“No.”

“Would you like me to look it up on the Internet?”

She shook her head.  “No.”

“Why not?”

“I don’t want to quit my job at the hotel.”

“Why not, Ife?  It would be the opportunity for you to get out of our arrangement.”

Agitated, she threw off the covers and climbed out of the bed.  She hurriedly got dressed.  “I have to go,” she muttered before she quickly left the room.

He followed her into the living-room.  “Do you really have to leave now?” he asked.  “I was going to order dinner for us.”

She avoided looking at him.  “Yes, I have to go.  I’ll–I’ll see you tomorrow.”  And she was gone before he could say anything else.

 

Next up, Ife Gets Jealous

From Self-harm to Self-love

39a1ef3b-4d0c-44bb-ad22-cd952e418c41Neeha always wore long sleeves even when it was hot and humid outside because she didn’t want anyone, especially her friends to see the ugly cuts on her arms.  She wanted to stop cutting herself but she couldn’t seem to.  It started when she became pregnant and told her mother who said, “Unless you get married or give up your baby for adoption, I won’t have anything more to do with you.  What you have done is a disgrace to the family–getting pregnant before you’re even married.”

Neeha was devastated.  She needed her mother but was rejected–shunned.  Marriage was out of the question.  Her baby’s father was already married and he didn’t even want to acknowledge the child.  He had even suggested that Neeha have an abortion which he was willing to pay for but she refused.  The thought of killing an unborn child horrified her.  So, she decided to go through with pregnancy.  When she started to show she would wear loose clothing.

When things got really bad and she felt there was nowhere or no one to turn to, she began to harm herself.  She used a pair of scissors to do it.  Soon, the beautiful, clear skin on her arms was covered in red, ugly welts.  What she was doing to herself horrified and repulsed her but she couldn’t seem to help it.  It was better than turning to drugs or alcohol or even committing suicide.

At the office, she would go into the bathroom and cut herself and when she came out no one suspected anything.  She kept to herself because she feared the backlash from her mother and the rest of the family.  This kind of behavior wasn’t something one would imagine would happen in an Asian family.  It wasn’t something that they would want to acknowledge or talk about or want their white friends and neighbors to know about.

One afternoon, she was flipping through the channels when she came across a program.  It was a sermon.  She decided to watch it.  It was about a demon possessed man who was living among the tombs.  He was naked and in chains which he broke.  What got her interest is that the man cut himself with stones.  When she heard how Jesus freed the man from the demons and clothed the man, she began to cry.  The man was in his right mind and no longer hurting himself.  She heard the preacher say, “Jesus can help you just like He helped this man.  Whatever you’re going through, come to Jesus, fall at His feet and He will free you.  He will heal you.  You don’t have to go through what you’re going through alone anymore.  Jesus can help you.  All you have to do is to cry out to Him and He will hear you.”

At the end of the service, there was a free offer of a book, entitled, Hurts So Good: Exposing the Lies of Self-Injury.  She quickly scribbled down the information and sent for a copy.  Afterwards, she cried out to Jesus whom she had heard so much about.  Now, she needed Him.  She wanted to believe that He could help her.  Tears poured down her face as she asked Him to free her from this cycle of intentional self-injury like He freed the demoniac.

When she was finished, the tears subsided and she felt a peace she had never experienced in her life before settle over her.  She knew then that Jesus had answered her prayer.   With the nine action steps outlined in the book, she was on the path to hope and healing in Christ.  She replaced the knife or scissor blade with the Bible and its promises.  She gave birth to a healthy baby girl and called her, Prutha which means “daughter of love”.

Neeha found a church nearby and began to attend their worship services every week while her best friend, Farha took care of Prutha.  There at the church, Neeha met Safal, a widower with a five year old son.  They struck a friendship which soon blossomed into a romance.  Two years later, they got married.  Neeha’s mother attended the wedding.  She apologized to her daughter for the way she treated her.  Neeha readily accepted her apology.  She was just happy to be back on speaking terms with her mother.  Prutha never knew about her biological father.  As far as Neeha was concerned, Safal was her father.  He was happy to adopt her as his own.  He doted on her and she adored him.

Neeha is currently expecting another child and she is ecstatic.  Prutha is now six and is excited about having a baby brother or sister and Taj, Safal, son, whom she adopted, was looking forward to the new addition to the family as well.  Neeha is thankful that she watched that Christian program.  It changed her life in so many ways.  She is a volunteer for an organization called, Samaritans, a unique charity dedicated to reducing feelings of isolation and disconnection that can lead to suicide.   Some of the people she has helped were victims of self-harm and a few of them have requested prayers.

Self-harm is a very serious issue.  If you find it difficult to speak to a family member or a friend or even a co-worker, here are organizations you can reach out to for help:

  • Samaritans – The Samaritans provide a free anonymous helpline. Someone will listen and help you, 24 hours of the day on 116 123. (UK)
  • Harmless – A user-led organisation for people who self-harm, and their friends and families.

You can also ask your GP to give you advice and direct you to the best place to get help, whether it is counselling or some form of treatment.

Self-harm is something that can happen among Christians as well.  Read this story of a Christian student who struggled with self-injury.  Please reach out for help.  Don’t let fear or shame prevent you.  Take the first step toward healing.  Take the path from self-harm to self-love.

Source:  Desiblitz; Samaritans; Blue Letter Bible

His Best Mechanic

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“We’ll have your car ready by five,” Mr. Brown promised.  “She’s a beaut.”  His gaze ran admiringly over the sleek Bentley.

“Thanks.  I’ve had her for ten years.  It’s my first time bringing her in for service.”

“She’s in good hands.”

“I’ll be back at five.”

“Wow.  She’s purring like a cat.  Thank you, Sir.”

“Don’t thank me.  Thank my daughter.”

“Your daughter?”

“She loves to tinker with cars.  That’s why she’s my best mechanic.”

75 Words

 

 

This was written for the Weekend Writing Prompt by Sammi Cox. For instructions, click Here.

Berta’s Lot

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Berta sat down, dog tired.  Tears ran down her cheeks.  She brushed them away.

What had she done to be saddled with a life of hardship and misery and an ungrateful child?  Hurt and anger welled up inside her as she thought about her only daughter, Clarissa.  She, Berta had worked so hard to make sure that Clarissa went to a good Negro school where she’d meet a fine Negro man and what does she do?  She runs off with an Injun.  All that money wasted and all that hard work for nothing.

Slowly, she rose to finish the ironing.

100 Words

This was inspired by the movie, Unbowed.

This was written for the Friday Fictioneers challenge hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields For more details, visit Here.  To read other stories based on this week’s prompt, visit Here.

Anna/Rift #writephoto

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Photo by Sue Vincent

“Mama, I’m going for a walk.”

“But, my Dear, Mr. Foster shall be calling on you at precisely three o’ clock.”

Anna stared at her mother.  “Oh, I forgot that he was coming.”

“You would do well not to slight a man of Mr. Foster’s constitution.  I’m sure you’re not impervious to his singular affection for you.”

“No, I cannot say that I am.  I will admit that Mr. Foster is a very amiable man and I have enjoyed our conversations but I’m afraid that my affection for him is of a platonic nature.”

“My Dear, you would do well to remember that you have no beauty or fortune to recommend you to any man.  And so far Mr. Foster is the only gentleman who has shown any solicitude toward you.  Don’t let your fancy notions about love blind you to the fact that if you offend Mr. Foster in any way and he withdraws himself as your suitor, you will end up an old maid like your Aunt May.”

Anna took a deep breath.  She didn’t want to lose her temper.  “Mama, I’m going for a walk now,” she said.  “I can do with some fresh air.”

Her mother looked rather put out and she sniffed indignantly, her expression one of censure as she gazed upon her rebellious daughter.  It was Anna’s fault, really that there was a rift in their relationship.  She had always been a rebellious and unconventional child.  “If you want to go gallivanting about the place, by all means do so,” she said.  “Just make sure that you are here when Mr. Foster calls.  I will not have you embarrass your father and me.”

“I will be back before Mr. Foster comes, Mother.”  And after giving her mother a perfunctory kiss on the cheek, she left the room.

What a relief it was to be out of the house.  The temperature was mild–pleasant, though the sun wasn’t strangely absent.  She headed straight to her favorite spot–the clearing in the wood and the rock with the crack.  When she reached it, her face was flushed but she felt invigorated.  She sat down on the rock and removed her bonnet.  She smoothed her fingers over the golden wisps of her that brushed against her forehead.  She could remain there all afternoon but she had to return to the house before Mr. Foster got there.  Drat.

Why did Mr. Foster have to show such a marked preference for her company when he could easily have shown the same to other young ladies, like her cousin, Charlotte, for example.  Charlotte seemed like a better suited companion for him than she was.  And as her mother liked to remind her, Charlotte was very sweet girl with such an agreeable disposition.

“Why can’t you be more like your cousin?” was her mother’s constant query. As fond as she was of Charlotte, there were times when she found her wanting, not to mention boring.  No, she would never be like dear sweet and irreproachable Charlotte and that suited her well.

After spending a long time there, enjoying the solitude and nature, she reluctantly quit the place and returned home.  Slowly, she entered the foyer, removed her bonnet and made her way to the sitting-room where she would receive her visitor.  Upon entering the room, she was surprised to see a strange gentleman standing there beside her mother who was sitting on the sofa.  “Anna, my Dear, this is Mr. Abbotsford, Mr. Foster’s nephew.”

Mr. Abbotsford bowed and Anna curtsied.  “Miss Fairley.  I’m here on my uncle’s behalf.  Regrettably, he has been called away on urgent business in London and has bestowed upon me the important task of conveying his deepest regret that he’s unable to keep his appointment with you.  I asked me to offer you his profound apologies.”

Before Anna could reply, her mother spoke up.  “Mr. Abbotsford, please inform your uncle that although his absence is of a considerable disappointment for my daughter, that she understands his predicament and that upon his return, she will be more than happy to receive him whenever he is able to facilitate another visit.”

Mr. Abbotsford bowed.  “I shall inform my uncle of your disappointment, understanding and eagerness to see him.”  His gaze shifted back to Anna.

Anna met his stare squarely.  He wasn’t at all like his uncle.  He was tall with very striking features.  His black hair framed a very handsome and tanned face.  It was slightly long and brushed against the crisp white collar of his shirt.  He looked and had the manners of a gentleman.  He looked to be six and twenty.  She wondered what his occupation was and why Mr. Foster never spoke of him.

Mrs. Fairley cleared her throat.  “Mr. Abbotsford, if you have no pressing business to take you away, perhaps you can stay for tea?”

“I would be delighted,” he replied.

“Very well.  I shall ring for tea.  Please be seated, Mr. Abbotsford.  Sit there by the fireplace.  Anna, come and sit beside me.”

Anna dutifully went and sat beside her mother.  After arranging her dress and making herself comfortable, she looked over to where Mr. Abbotsford was.  Again she wondered why Mr. Foster had never spoken of him nor introduced him.  Perhaps, it had to do with the fact that he was young and very handsome.  And perhaps, if Mr. Foster were privy to the thoughts that which occupied her mind as she studied his nephew, he would never have enlisted his help to bring her news of the urgent business which had spirited him away this afternoon, preventing him from being at her side now.

As she sipped her tea and listened attentively to the conversation between her mother and their visitor, she hoped that she would see him again.  Surely, Mr. Foster won’t object to her family getting better acquainted with his nephew.  Perhaps, she could persuade her mother to invite him for dinner.  There was no telling how long Mr. Foster would be in London.

This was written for the #writephoto Prompt – Rift at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.