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Cycles of Violence

It started out as two lovebirds on a night out.

The man, an American, was heartily devouring his steak. I did not see his companion, a Filipina, eating anything. They were both drinking: San Mig Light, Corona, tequila.

I pointed out to my friend the Poet what grabbed my attention: a huge military-like backpack hanging behind the chair of the man. Was he a turtle? They did not have a car, I concluded, and went on with my drink.

A little later, upon chancing to see the face of the woman, I told my friend that she was beautiful. Straight long her, clear skin, big round eyes and womanly. She also had that Filipina-American charm where you know she's different but not completely so. Nearer than impossible, but farther than possible at the same time.

Rarely do I see women in the bar, and this, even if nothing can be done but to gaze, at least was a welcome sight.

Then they disappeared. What at first amused us--I told the waiter to check the bathroom in jest--would break our hearts. There was a fallen knife on the floor where they sat.

The American came back alone to his seat and ordered a new drink. His eyes were smiling. I knew something was wrong. Where was the beautiful lady?

I had an inkling she was downstairs, in the parking lot. But since I knew they did not bring a car, my curiosity was further aroused. My guess was proven when the waiter came up to the American, talked soberly with him--part anger and part confusion--and walked away with some cigarettes.

Pity. She did not even have cigarettes with her as she was crying.

I told the Poet as we were preparing to leave that I would bet my life that we would see her downstairs being consoled by the waiter, crying and smoking. I won.

I saw her beauty reduced to a monobloc chair and cigarettes she had to plead for.

I approached her and signaled the server to leave. Tears where streaming down her eyes, smearing her make-up, all the more making the glitters on her face glisten in the dark. I did not have to ask her what was the matter as she voluntarily said: "My husband beats me when he is drunk."

I gave her my handkerchief, lit a cigarette, and listened. In between apologies, she revealed what had happened.

Her husband was checking out the women in the bar. So she told him she does not like that and she doesn't look at other men when she's with him.

The American said: "I will do what I want. You know nothing. I am an American and you're just a Filipina. You're just my wife."

Next came the flood of necessary reasons and expected justifications. That he only does that when he is drunk; that generally they're happy; that they just got married last June so probably they're still adjusting; that she knows he loves her, etc., etc.,--things that I no longer want to say, things that battered women always say.

So I told her that a man who beats a woman is not a man. And that it is not a question of love or commitment but a question of respect. It is not about race or sex or knowledge; it is about trust. These things, I thought, went in one ear and came out the other. She continued crying.

There is no point in reasoning with an unreasonable woman in the same way that you cannot convince a madman that he is mad.

Then came the father in a taxi. I thought he was going to pick her up.

I could not read his face when he approached her; he seemed angry, to be sure, but I was confused as to whom he was angry. I was afraid he was angry not at the American but at his daughter.

There were no embraces, no emotions, no consolations from the father. He lit a cigarette, sat beside her, held out his arm to rest his hands on her shoulder. He was a tough one. My friend would later say that he was the classic father of an abused woman: detached, macho, probably a wife-beater as well.

Seeing that it was an awkward sight for father and daughter to perform their dramatics by the side of a highway, I offered them a ride home.

The father smiled and declined.

They were going to wait for the American who was presently downing tequila shots upstairs.

Comments

  1. homing instinct... the woman probably came from an abusive household. also, she is probably so accustomed to violence that she thinks she deserves it... it is rather difficult to help those kind of people who refuse to help themselves and who don't love themselves enough to stay away fom abusive and destructive relationships...

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