It was a dark night. In fact it was so dark, Jacko and I held bets on who could spot daddy coming home first. Jacko said it was because there was no moon in the sky today. Coincidentally, the street light outside our house was broken too. I didn’t like that very much.
And then daddy came. Neither Jacko nor I had seen him, even though he must have been right under the window we were peeking through, in my room. As a part of the challenge, we had switched off the light outside the door, mockingly too, because we were both certain we would see him long before that. We were wrong. And that brought disaster.
Something crashed loudly outside the door. Daddy cursed loudly. “They DARE cut our light?!!!! Even when I paid half the bill today!”
Jacko and I ran out to our place at the top of the stairs. We shouldn’t have shut that light. Daddy was inside.
“WHO do they THINK they are?! So what I’ve been late with the bill, THEY don’t have to go house to house selling some ruddy insurance! And those- those- bastards at the company!!!”
I wished daddy would look at the kitchen. A light was on, mommy was working. They hadn’t cut the light. He did see. And in he went.
“What is this?! You! Why is this light on?! That’s just it. You. You make the bills so high. Why don’t you just pay them too if you make them so high! HUH? You hag! You’re the reason of all my problems! What do you do all day anyway, huh? You just sit around all day and switch on the ruddy lights!”
I couldn’t hear what mummy was saying. I went down the stairs. Jacko pulled me back but I wriggled out of his grasp.
“Oh God! Must I deal with you everyday! You’ll kill me with that smell some day!” She was shouting too but her pitch didn’t come close to daddy’s. It was IT. Another one of mommy and daddy’s fight. Those things Jacko didn’t tell me the reason behind. Did mommy and daddy not love each other anymore?
“What?! You have a problem with my drinking? So a man must work his arse off all day and he doesn’t deserve a drink! And that too when he has an old ugly witch for a wife who does NOTHING but makes his life worse, and raises his bills! Tell you what! YOU work from now on right! YOU get the money and YOU run the house! Hell, they won’t NEED to kick me off then, I RESIGN!”
Pans were cluttering. I hoped daddy was not going to hit mommy.
“So that’s what you did now, huh! LOST YOUR RUDDY JOB, DIDN’T YOU! There go all your reward breaks and early releases. You’re just a bum who got fired! You never did anything good anywhere! Not at home, not at the job! You’re just a FILTHY-”
An echoing thud came from the kitchen. Mommy screamed. I had to look in now. Jacko was coming down the stairs himself.
Mommy was on the floor. She covered one cheek with her hand. She was crying. I was scared. I pulled in my breath quickly.
Daddy turned towards me. “YOU NOW! What do you think you are doing! Can’t I talk to my wife without you or that shit brother of yours sticking your stupid head in!!! I’ll tell you what! YOU AREN”T MY KIDS. You are just rats! RATS!”
I cried now. Jacko had come behind me. He ran in towards mommy.
“And YOU! What do you think you are doing? LEAVE HER THERE! I want my wife on the floor, that’s where I’ll have her!”
Daddy took a step towards Jacko. He swayed violently when he moved. I cried out, “Jacko!”
Daddy picked up a knife and turned towards Jacko. “I said- LEAVE HER THERE!”
I was shocked. Daddy wouldn’t hit Jacko! What was he doing?
Jacko was looking at the knife. He was looking at the knife and pulling mommy up behind him. Mommy was really hurt. She kept grimacing and clutching her body- her legs, her arms… She moved her hand from the cheek, and I saw blood trickling down the side of her lip. Why had daddy hit her so bad?!
“You won’t listen!” And daddy made a plunge at Jacko. He waved the knife in front of him. Jacko bent back.
“Dadddddyyyy! You’ll hurt him!” I screamed. Had daddy forgotten he was holding a knife?!
Jacko picked up a pan.
“Jacko, what are you doing!” I was crying hard now. “Are you fighting daddy, Jacko?!” I sobbed, helpless, scared.
“Jenny just take mom to your room, now!” Jacko said, looking at daddy.
I didn’t want to think. I ran and helped mommy get up. I looked at daddy from behind Jacko. He was staring at Jacko. He didn’t look like daddy. I rushed with mommy. I hadn’t known she was so heavy. I rushed and rushed, I had to get back fast. I helped mommy into my bed and ran out down.
When I reached, Daddy had moved closer towards Jacko and Jacko had moved back. The knife and the pan were poised.
And as I stood and saw, daddy growled loudly, and jumped forward right on Jacko and threw him to the floor. Daddy stood over Jacko and kicked him in the stomach. I screamed and ran to Jacko but daddy threw the knife at me. I stood frozen to the place. The knife missed me by an arm, a very bad shot for daddy. But daddy had attacked me. I was stunned. Jacko was getting up, daddy was wresting him.
I was stunned.
Daddy hit Jacko in the face. Just like he had hit mommy.
I was stunned.
Jacko whimpered when daddy drove his fingers into Jacko’s sides and hit him again.
I looked at the jar on the slab. The glass jar filled with water. Stunned still, I walked towards it and picked it up. It was heavy, but not as heavy as mommy. I walked over to where daddy crouched over Jacko. I stretched the jar out over daddy’s head.
Daddy looked up.
I dropped the jar.
Daddy fell like a lifeless mass to the floor.
Jacko breathed painfully. He coughed and gasped.
He got up and pulled me away. He took me outside.
Glass pieces from a half broken bottle lay everywhere.
Jacko cleared an area and pulled me down beside him.
He pat my head and whispered, “It’s okay. Jenny, It’s okay.”
It’s okay? What’s okay?
I looked at the dark. I touched the dark.
I loved the dark.