It was already late in the evening. But the City was still awake. Zenaida and her classmates were still enjoying the night. It was after all a Friday night and as people would say, “Thank God It’s Friday!” The Karaoke singing went on and on and the boys, that included Zenaida’s husband, were already, somehow, drunk; you could tell by the way they sang. They had become bolder and more out of tune. But it was okay. The point was just to enjoy the night after that very difficult exam they had.
Zenaida was just observing her classmates and friends. She always had fun talking to them. She could relate to their happy moments. They did not know, though, that Zenaida had fears in her heart. Her greatest fear was to go home.
The bar was closing and so everyone slowly left the Karaoke room; still laughing on the endless jokes from everyone. The fear in Zenaida’s heart was starting to become bigger and bigger. How would she ride home in their car when her husband was also drunk? She also knew that he was into drugs. She was not afraid of his driving skills. She knew that he could drive home even when he was totally spent. But her fear…her fear was that her husband may hurt her again, physically and brutally; as he had always been doing this to her over the years.
They were on their way home. Zenaida kept quiet; afraid that any word may trigger her husband’s irritable temper. And BOOM! Out of nowhere, he threw his anger again. “Why are you silent?” This was his question which Zenaida did not know how to answer. “I am just a little bit tired,” she softly said. “I don’t think that is the reason why you are silent!” He demanded. Zenaida bit her lips and quietly sighed in prayer. “Come Holy Spirit, please Come!”
“Are you murmuring? Are you complaining?” He was at it again. This time, his voice was very loud that it resounded on all the walls of the car and even the tires could hear him. He was shouting at the top of his voice. He sped off and drove faster in the night. Zenaida was really afraid this time. She did not want to be in an accident. “Oh, dear Lord, please do not let me die, yet. Please!” She was praying intently.
They were still half-way through their journey home. The car was speeding so fast and it was the only loud sound that disturbed the quietness of the night. “Are you afraid to die?” He shouted and hit Zenaida’s head that hit the window of the car. Zenaida felt the pain but she could not complain. She could not even cry as she was afraid that her husband might get angrier. “Why are you not crying? Are you not afraid of me?” He was testing the limits of Zenaida’s patience. The more he shouted, the more Zenaida prayed fervently.
But he would not stop. He drove faster; twice the speed limit. Zenaida was already trembling in fear. “Please stop. Please slow down.” Zenaida was begging. But he would not stop. He hit her again on the head and the arms. His big hands were surely stronger than what Zenaida ever remembered. This was not the first time of her being physically abused in the car, in the house, or elsewhere. But this time, Zenaida felt the difference. Perhaps, she already became weaker with all the blows that she received over time. The pain that she received this time did not send her to tears. But the memories of all that she went through flashed into her mind and tears started to fall; as if to wash her pain.
Zenaida’s husband saw that she was starting to cry. This triggered another fit of anger from him. He slowed down and hit Zenaida several times on the head, the shoulders, the arms. Zenaida was silently crying. Tears did not stop falling. She wanted to stop crying; but she could not.
The car finally stopped. Zenaida’s fear was now bigger than her nightmares. Her husband wanted to hurt her more. Zenaida quickly went out of the car and ran as fast as she could to nowhere in the darkness of the night. She just ran and ran and ran faster and prayed harder. “Lord, please save me!”
The Lord must have heard her. A well-lighted gate was slightly opened. Unafraid of what she would be encountering inside the gate, Zenaida went through and closed the gate after her. All eyes were on her. They were all men inside the compound. They were working on pipes. They all looked at Zenaida and they were shocked. Zenaida said to them, “Please help me. Please hide me from my husband. Please do not let him in. Please!” One of the men approached Zenaida. He was full of pity for her. He brought her to a shed and told her to hide. Just then, everyone inside that compound heard the knocking on the gate.
“Have you seen a woman just now? She came in here.” Zenaida could hear her husband asking the guys inside the compound. The man who helped Zenaida answered, “We did not see anyone here. This gate has always been closed just like right now.” But the husband insisted, “I saw her come in. She must be there inside. Why are you hiding her from me? I am her husband.” But the man insisted that Zenaida’s husband should leave and not to disturb them as they were doing their night work. He told the husband, “If you need help, you can always call the Police. Do you want us to call for you?”
The husband left, afraid of any intervention by the Police. The man locked the gate and asked Zenaida to come out from where she was hiding.
Zenaida thanked him and all the guys there. They offered her coffee and told her to rest a bit. After some time, Zenaida asked for a telephone where she could call somebody. She was led to the Office where she made the call.
Life is always full of surprises; there is pain, there are hurts and there are tons of fun. It is the balance of those things that we want. But the memories in our hearts are always those that set us into the extremes.
Zenaida’s father picked her up from that compound. He did not ask a single question. He just kissed her and hugged her. To Zenaida, that was enough. It took away all the pains.
It was already early morning when Zenaida arrived home. Everyone thought she had a good night. She could not share her bruises, her hurts, her pains to anyone. Yes, she enjoyed the night with her classmates and friends. She enjoyed listening to their stories, jokes, and laughter. She just kept the bruises to herself. It was not yet the right time for her to get out from that mess. “It is not yet time. I will persevere,” Zenaida assured herself. She offered to the Lord all the pains she had. They seemed to heal faster than the heart. But Zenaida knew better. She knew that she was worth more than just being the object of fits of anger, of physical abuse, of verbal abuse. She understood that there is a reason for everything. “One day, I will treasure all these in my heart; and I will remember these moments.”
Zenaida took away the bitterness from her heart. She replaced it with a calm surrender. She knew that after the storm is always a calm, a serenity, a bliss. Bruises could easily be forgotten and the heart can heal; in time, with Jesus. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21).