Anger expresses itself in different ways, but for Rosa, she felt as if her expressions were always imprisoned; imprisoned in the jail of her “brought-up-see”. No foul language could ever be heard from her thin red lips. No. Her Chinese African grandmother strictly forbade such diatribe from their upper middle class household. There was no room to shout either. “Ladies must be seen and never heard.” She could still hear her grandmother’s hushed stern voice as the words fought their way through clenched teeth. But hushed meaningless tones were powerless to communicate the weight of the burden of the anger and hatred which consumed Rosa’s innermost being like a wildfire on a hot arid day.
The house was alive with the chatter of voices echoing from the strangers she called her friends. Laughter filled the room as the smell of pride and expensive perfume engulfed the afternoon air. Suits of different colours and patterns – red, blue, black, pink, pinstripes and floral all contributed to what was now a painting of a life she no longer wanted to live. She looked at the scene in front of her the way an animal dying for their freedom looks at visitors at the zoo.
“Honey!” The deep monotone voice she grew to hate cut her train of thought abruptly.
He was honey brown in complexion with “good hair” and a perfect smile, white teeth, straight nose and taller than her, of course; just as grandmother had ordered! He was Trinidad wealthy, upper class and from a good family. “Love does not buy the life we want dear!” Again the stifled high pitched tone of her grandmother’s voice terrorised her present like a lion to its prey.
He nudged her into the large kitchen. “This way please!” His perfect smile gave way to a painfully familiar slap across her face. “Why are you looking so upset in front of our guests? Get it together quickly. We have company!” He then pulled her by the arm gently back out to their unconcerned guests as if nothing happened.
What would they think of her if she were to act outside of her character and erupt like a volcano on her beloved husband of fifteen years? Fifteen long, pain-filled years. All that never left her lips boiled inside of her like bursting peas inside of a pressure cooker. Her lips moved as she stared at him across the room but no sound would allow itself to escape. Her dark brown eyes continued to cut him from across the room and he could interpret exactly what they were saying. His eyes responded with even more hate.
She asked a polite ‘excuse me’ from her oblivious guests and ran like Bolt in the 100 meters up the winding staircase and as usual, buried her anger 8 feet deep in her pillow. But this time was different. This time her pillow said ‘No’. Tears feverishly poured themselves out of her now rose red eyes onto her scarlet cheeks. The pillow could no longer bear the brunt of all she would feed it daily. After all, feathers were feathers and anger was anger; like oil and water, their properties can never be combined. With a force greater than the strength she thought she possessed she threw the pillow and it made a loud thump as it hit the wall and slumped to the dark wooden floor. She marched militantly down the winding staircase in an attempt to go back to her usual game of pretend once she had reached the bottom. However, this time, it did not work.
Suddenly, she heard a loud voice hurling expletives and green verbs at the man she professed to love. The voice was hers and she could not stop it. The room suddenly grew pin-drop silent, but she could not stop. He angrily seized her arm, but her anger overpowered him and he fell to the ground consumed by cuffs and kicks and tears.
He realised he had lost his power to her anger. He dared not fight back. None of the baffled gazers in the room tried to stop her. Not even her grandmother’s voice.
Natasha Grimes is a Communication Skills Lecturer at the University of the Southern Caribbean South Campus. At present, she volunteers with the Victim Support Foundation and the Vessels of Virtue Theatrical Foundation. She writes and performs her own monologues across the country. She only very recently ventured into writing short stories and this is one of her maiden pieces.
The “16 Stories” series – exploring experiences of violence and discrimination against women and girls in commemoration of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence.