He careens onto the highway without saying a word in the heat of the morning. He is going so fast I have to clutch hard at his shirt. Tears start to brim on my eyes.
As he maneuvers our motorcycle through the heavy traffic, swerving left and right, making my heart leap to my throat every time he came too close to another vehicle, his shoulders and back show his anger. They are stiff and knotted with tension.
I cannot say anything. My fear of his speed, the wind against my face, and the tears already sliding down my cheeks are almost choking me to death. Every vehicle we pass by is a blur.
I try not holding on to him because I want to let him know I was hurt, too. But, I can’t. I don’t want to fall off the bike.
I feel him glance sideways at me. I know there are a lot of questions in his mind. I can answer all of them. But, I will not. Not this time.
Last night was the last straw.
Sophie, our two-year-old daughter, was not feeling well. She was feverish, cranky, and fidgety. She will not let her dad put her down to sleep.
I was lying on our bed, with my eyes closed, trying to rest a bad headache away. He was holding Sophie on his lap, getting more furious by the minute. He was tired and wanted to go to sleep already. But our little girl wouldn’t let him.
She kept on tugging at his arm, wanting him to hold her closer still. She wanted more of his attention minus the anger. If only he could have been gentler, Sophie would have calmed down a bit.
After a few minutes, he suddenly got up and dumped Sophie forcefully on the bed beside me. His every move showed his exasperation. In my surprise, I gasped his name out load and catapulted off the mattress like a spring.
Having landed on her butt, Sophie cried. She wailed as if in pain.
I admonished him for what he did, but he brushed me off and shouted at our little girl to shut up. Sophie bawled even more, her shrieks piercing the stillness of the night.
I didn’t know what came over him, but he suddenly slapped our baby, his meaty palm landing smack on her left cheek.
She was momentarily stunned into silence, before she burst into fresh tears, her wails shriller and more piercing. A trickle of blood appeared on the corner of her mouth.
I was stupefied. For a moment, I wasn’t able to move or speak. I just stared at him, my mouth agape.
Then, all hell broke loose. I became a tigress protecting her cub. I launched at him and pummeled his chest with my small fists, while my legs kicked at his shins. I cursed at him and called him names. I told him to pack his bags and leave.
But he just headed out of our room as if nothing happened.
I turned to Sophie and cradled her in my arms. I brought her to the kitchen and applied some ice to her cheek, which was already starting to swell.
I know I shouldn’t have done it with Sophie in tow, but I did it. I trudged to the veranda where he was sitting on a rocking chair as if everything in his world was all peachy and great. Then, in a voice as dead as the bones buried at the cemetery near our house, I told him again to leave.
I told him I did not love him anymore. His having laid a hand on our daughter was a line he should have never crossed. To hurt him as much as he hurt Sophie, I dealt him with a blow I know he will never recover from. I revealed how I still love my former boyfriend and how I wished he was the father of my child.
Everything I said fell on deaf ears though or so I thought, because here I am now, holding on for dear life with the wind whistling at my ears. The ground seems to rise up to meet the sides of my face every time he swerves too low. I can do nothing else, but to hold on tighter to him, even if I wish to push him away.
I’m afraid I will not reach my office alive. I may not see my daughter again. With so many thoughts racing through my mind, I scrunch my eyes shut.
Moments later, our motorbike stops. I open my eyes and breathe a sigh of relief. We are already at the parking area outside my office and he is looking at me with wary eyes.
I fix him with my deadest stare and tell him I don’t want him near me or our daughter ever again. Then, with shaking knees, but with my head held high, I walk away.
Last night was the last straw.