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Apparently, men beat their wives because they ask for it

By Thuku Muthui | August 14th 2016

The first week of August always leaves me overcast. We can all do a list of inauspicious and heart-breaking occurrences, as a nation and as individuals that has left us melancholic. I prayed and hoped this one would be different, that there will be no rampant loss of lives, no war outbreaks and even fever, August is notorious for bad weather and chills. Luckily, there were no deaths or extreme news, but there is always that dark cloud looming and waiting for the opportune moment to release havoc and pain. Uncontrolled emotions.

 Jackline Mwende, rather the story behind her name, has been my source of sorrow and concern. That image of a mutilated woman, with a scar running through what was once a beautiful forehead that has been doing rounds on social media and making headlines in various news channels and blogs has been giving me chills the whole week.

I was chopping an onion for Wednesday’s supper and got carried away by a creepy thought I won’t write about when my ever blunt knife pecked my middle finger. It was such an intimate contact that blood was drawn, staining the onions and cabbages red.

By impulse, the knife flew to the bin; I grabbed the finger, and called out,” Mammmiiii!!” I bet the fingertip was cut off and it was after a concerted effort that I finally looked at the wound. It was a tiny hair-like cut but the pain felt like hell. I even noticed a wet patch on my pants. That was the end of cooking and laundry for a couple of weeks. Sema a blessings in disguise.

Back to our topic. I share in the pain Jackline Mwende felt.

 Usually what happens after such incidents is, the victim will be rushed to the hospital, activists will flock the ward, take pictures and stories and blog about them. A hash tag would be put up and the topic will really trend, gaining massive traffic on twitter and stout condemnation from the followers. Well-wishers, politicians, agencies and organizations will come up making pledges to sponsor the medical expenses, pay for prosthetic, upkeep and even promise a monthly stipend. The assailant will be arrested and an insert of his picture will be published alongside the victim’s poster-sized one on the daily newspaper.

That is where we go wrong as a community. We focus on the innocent, subject her to criticism and sympathy. The criminal is left in the shadows; the sentencing will be meager, domestic violence perpetrator in place of attempted murder. Among men, the victim automatically becomes a hero. Amekataa kukaliwa. The assailant should be crucified and his body left on the cross for crows to gouge his eyes out, for termites to disintegrate the flesh and for children to be fore-warned.

I means this figuratively. The activists should follow up their social media demos with courtroom battles and actions. Once that has happened, we shall hear of a life sentence for the convict and such extremities of violence will be stories of the past. As a man, I wonder what would provoke me from the person I loved to warrant me to do such an ordeal.

Yeah, you may argue that there is a fine line between love and hate but it takes more than hate to chop off the limbs on another mortal. I took the discussion to my married cousin. He is in his thirties, a father, a husband, a bread winner, a friend of God and a confidant.

 “Ah, these things never lack,” he answers after a hearty laugh. What is amusing in the question?” Have you ever fought your wife?” “So to what level has the worst ever reached, on a scale of ten?” He scratches his kinky beard as a painful grin appears and escapes from his face. He has formidable tells which I use to my advantage during the interview. He says it’s a whole seven. I hold my mouth. His face drops and he rolls his eyes. “That’s nothing compared to what my mother experienced,” his revelation hits a nerve and I almost double over.

Wife battling is not a recent encounter, it has been a sore wound in the ass for long and we have engineered ourselves to live with it like cockroaches. (I have just smashed one to the wall and the Yuck!) My beloved cousin admits to have given his wife a hell of a time in their third and fourth year of marriage. He almost broke a rib, gave her a beating worth a thief and even sent her away twice.

 “Why beat a woman, I think silent treatment is a better and more potent weapon?” I asked, sounding experienced. He watched me, pity inscribed in his face. I thought he pitied his previous life but indeed he pitied me,” You are so naive.

 Wives are not ones whom you watch do wrongs and keep quiet. You expect her to mold your kids with utmost care and discipline. So you have to instill it in her first. ”

 “So when does the whole canning thing come in?” “When you come home and find the children hungry and she comes in after you, with the lame excuse she was at the salon.” “That’s petty on the man’s side. He should provide for her needs and the children’s needs.”

 “You think so, but that’s just the onset. The end of it will be misunderstanding, an exchange of words, a walk away, a slap, an insult and before you know it, someone will be escorting your to the cell after you cut off her neck.”

 “I sense unresolved issues in the tone. So you would cut off your wife’s hands if she really infuriated you?” “That one is a nope. Even with all the matrimonial challenges, the good times will always surface. Going home to the laughter of the children, the scolding of a mother, the beauty of family and a candid pillow talk with someone you choose means a lot to a man,” he smiles at that one.

 I miss marriage already. “Simply you put it that there should be limits and avenues to correct a spouse.” “It’s that simple.” We walk by Cuts and Chops butchery and he buys a kilo of beef to take home. I look forward to interviewing a lady on the same topic.

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