Friend or Foe


BE THANKFUL

She sat shivering. Constantly checking whether her skirt was covering her breasts, pulling it with trembling hands up again and again. Silently she mouthed a prayer thanking God that she had worn a long skirt that day.
Outside the sun shone but no sunlight shone through the window. It was blocked by the people staring in.
She closed her eyes trying to shut out the eyes.
“You okay?” he snapped, in Pidgin Papua New Guinea’s second language, before slapping the file down on the table between them. She looked up at him. He threw down a black t-shirt and motioned for her to put it on before he pulled back a chair and plonked down. She pulled the t-shirt over her head. Then reached under it and carefully worked her skirt back down until she felt the waistband back around her waist. Once again she wrapped her arms around her body.
“You’re lucky, they only hit you, cut you and ripped your clothes’ off. Other women have been in far worse situations,” he said while looking at the people staring in. “What were you doing walking alone in the first place? You should KNOW better. What did you expect when you put yourself in that sort of position?” he asked.
“I… was walking to work,” she explained.
“Well next time go with someone,” he retorted. “How many?” he asked tapping his pen against the table as he looked at the ‘Domestic Violence is a Crime’ poster on the light blue cement wall.
“Three,” she said quietly while reaching to her back. She pulled out the shirt stop it sticking to her back.
“What, SPEAK UP, what is wrong with you?” he snapped.
“Three,” she tried again this time louder.
“What weapons did they have?”, he asked.
“A rifle, bush knife and a kitchen knife,” she told him closing her eyes feeling faint. “They ca…me out from the overgrown grass on the vacant plot on the other side of the Highway and…. called me to wait for them, so I ran across the umm..Highway to get to the other side,” she carried on, not stopping.
“That’s WHY they hit you and cut you, you should have listened to them,” he scolded her.
“I thought……that. If..if I got to the other side of the..the road then I could follow the iron fence and try to make it to the residential…housing area which is just before the warehouse where I worked but..they reached me before I got there..” she looked at him, bending up and down trying to make eye contact.
He kept shaking his head.
“Is there someone you want to call to pick you up or do you want us to drop you off at the hospital to get those cuts look at?” he asked looking at her for the second time since he walked through the door.
“I want to call…” she said.
“Use the phone on the table,” he said while pushing out the chair to stand up.
She gulped before saying, “ex..excuse me sir.”
He turned and glared. “Yesssss,” he ground slowly out.
“Did…. ummmm…did you get them and don..don’t you want to hear the rest of the story?,” she asked steeling herself not to look away.
“No vehicle, besides they probably already ran away…and you should be thankful nothing bad happened, did they rape you?” he growled.
She shook her head. He turned and left.
She sat staring at the doorway after he left, before turning and looking at the people staring in. Only three remained.
“Shame, shame on you,” she spat out. Two left, one stayed put, a grin spreading on his face. They stared at each other until he turned his head.
“Bitch,” he mumbled as he walked away.
Minutes later she heard Rose’s voice asking where she was. Rose burst in the room. She came to a dead stop.
“Let’s just go home,” she said, struggling to keep her voice in check.
Rose nodded, “Oh my god your cut, your arms are cut,” she said blinking rapidly trying to stop the tears from escaping.
“Rose, pleassse…,” she pleaded.
Nodding again Rose helped her up and they made their way out the door and down the corridor to the front desk where her interviewer sat talking to another officer who glanced at them.
“Are you okay?,” the officer asked coming out and attempting to take her other arm before realizing it had blood soaked strips of cloth tied around them.
“Sandy,” she blurted out.
“What?,” Rose asked her confused.
“My name is Sandy,” she said again, louder almost screeching. “My name is Sandy, you didn’t even ask my name to put on your report,” Sandy said. “So I am telling you… it’s Sandy and I’ll get my husband to check if you are looking for them,” she screeched at the interviewer whose lip curled and twitched as he stared at her.
Then Sandy saw her husband tearing in, his face scrunched in anger. The tears she had held back so long fell free.
“I’ll be back,” her husband told the officer, who was now asking the interviewer for the Sandy’s file, before gently steering her to the car.
“Thankful, he said, I should be thankful,” Rose heard Sandy say over and over again as she tried to hold Sandy trying to stop her shivering. Sandy jerked back. Rose pulled her arm away then realized her inner arm was covered with blood.
“My arms, legs and my back hurt,” Sandy moaned as her husband maneuvered the car out of the police station car park. At the end of the driveway, he stopped.
“Hospital?” he asked no one in particular, staring at his wife’s black eyes, split swollen lips and bruised cheeks through the rear view mirror.
“Quickly,” Rose said watching her sister-in-law talking to herself.

********
I know its not a poem. Bear with me please, am down with Malaria.

Police brutality has been bugging me for a while but I don’t have the brain power to sit and write a poem so I pulled out this from my pile. 

Links at the bottom

http://www.actnowpng.org/content/mondiai-vows-find-out-why-cops-beat-pregnant-woman

UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Presents Preliminary Findings on His Mission to Papua New Guinea

my brother has been on the wrong side of the law..he likes his booze and hangs with the wrong crowd.  One christmas years ago, the police had thought my brother was withholding information. They thought he knew which young men had held up a group of gamblers and made away with their winnings.

Its very professional how they investigate. They pick up any drunk young man they find. After all where else would a young man get money to drink. It still happens today.

So they took him and a friend of his into custody and decided to question him with the help of a 3X2 timber. They broke his legs, “incase he ran” and beat him into a coma. I still to this day do not know what he went through during the night he spent in their custody. My mother searched the streets all night for her son going from house to house until she found out he was in custody. His friend they cut with a razor blades both were rushed to hospital in comas. Both managed to survive.

My brother changed after that. He hated the police with a passion and would help young men running from the police. Nothing we could do could stop this. It eventually ended up with him serving several years for Assessory.

The story above is based on a experience I had where I was attacked several years ago while walking to work. I was not cut up but beaten..all the words are what was said to me.  I added the knife wounds because I know of people who have been in that situation.  The police are supposed to our friends but after the incident… 

If you also notice in my poems I use neighbours as saviors often because more then likely they are your best bet until the police turn up.

Yes they have brushed up their tatics alot. But still the public’s old fears remain and the recent news haven’t been helpful. I write this with hesitation knowing a lot of my extending family are in our police force.

So I see the other side. The long hours, understaffed, minimun wages, and they work around very tight budget restraints, and no mental health assessments after shooting etc.. but still…isn’t that what you signed up for to be our friends, our protecters.

If you have the time please tell me how to improve my short stories.  Honesty welcome.

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27 comments

  1. Maiya, I am catching up on my reading and reading backwards. What strikes me having read your recent poems and now this story is that often, if we look back in history, it is the artists and writers who have been the voice of the people – whose work has chimed the bell – and it is those we recall with fondness and admiration. I only have admiration for what you are doing in sharing your story through your work here and your poetry. But your situation leaves us feeling helpless. I am glad, though, that you have the strength to do what you do.

    1. SMM, I understand why my writing leaves people feel helpless. :-)I am glad you haven’t been frightened off. 🙂 As for having strength well I wouldn’t call it that, all I know is that I feel better writing about these issues and I don’t ever want to go back to how I felt before I began writing. It was a dark dark place.

  2. Dear Maiya, this story has touched me, The writing is perfect, conversation is extremely difficult to recreate and you have done so perfectly.You are a very talented writer and I am honoured to be able to read your work.
    The subject is very hard hitting and you obviously have plenty of knowledge on the subject. You write from your your soul .
    You said you are unwell with Malaria I do hope that you are recovering! I send you love and best wishes .
    Thinking of you willow.xx

    1. Willow, the honor is mine. I read your work and it INSPIRES me. You also write from your soul. So let keep going. 🙂 I am still struggling with the malaria I do wish it was gone. Blessings my friend.

  3. Maiya, I am so glad you looked in your pile to find that beautifully written piece of work. It is tragic that human beings can’t treat each other with the simplest of kindness. Writing conversation is not easy for everyone,and yours just flowed right off of the computer and put me in that room with the victim. I am blessed to be able to read your work. Until next time, Terri

    1. Thank you Terri, it was hard publishing because my short stories somehow feel more personal. I don’t know why I should feel like that with my short stories and not my poems as both are of personal subjects. Your so right about treating people with more kindness I really needed it then and instead…

      Thank you for taking the time to read and comment my friend.

  4. I think your story is extremely well written and quite thought provoking. It angers me the way women are somehow held responsible for the horrible, inexcusable actions of men. So sad.

    1. Hello Shoes, thank you my friend for your feedback on my story. It means a lot It also angers me when victims are held somehow held responsible. It really gets under my skin.

    1. Thank you Yearstricken, I am grateful to have met so many wonderful, supportive friends here. It makes clear paths on foggy days. Quicker climbs over steep mountains. Thank you!!!

  5. Dearest Maiya,

    Words can’t touch this. HeartWrenching.

    You wrote from the very bottom of your soul. I could not stop reading and then…

    to find that this woman was you…

    it breaks my heart wide open.

    You are a gifted writer and your poems and this story are one of the most valuable tools any activist can have in her arsenal of tools for change. You are a force to be reckoned with.

    I admire and care for you deeply, here so far away, and still not so much. Where I grew up I learned not to trust the police. My father lived through beatings by criminals and the police would NEVER press charges.

    What happens to Women is FAR worse. I will NEVER forget this story and the images are indelible.

    I am so sorry you had to live through this. And you seem to have sprung up as a Phoenix from the ash…

    Take care malaria too. My prayers are with you Sister.

    Love, Jen

    1. Thank you so very much Jen, 🙂 I know what you mean about not trusting the police. I have only gone to them when there is no other way. While what happen was so long ago the mistrust still lingers. The some recent news articles here have brought forth those niggling doubts.. Writing has been been a vent and I did write this hoping it would help somehow. Thank you my dear friend for the prayers.

  6. Maiya before i get into today topic..must tell you ..you are an amzing writer..I just could not take my eyes of this story..very captivating and true to its soul….
    yes People all over are suffering in hands of police the same system which is supposed to help us..makes fun of us and abuses our rights the most..
    very well written Maiya..Women are always adviced to dress up well, do this do that…but no one even thinks why cnt they enjoy the freedom that the men so proudly flaunt…we the women are treated as second grade citizens in this world…and we the women will have to change that
    loved your article Maiya..and get well soon..sending healing vibes your way 🙂

    1. Soma, sis…you have got it soooo right..why can’t we enjoy the same freedom as men?? You don’t see women attacking men cause they are strutting around bare chested. The funny thing is, as part of PNG culture we dress in grass skirts and are topless. 🙂 Yes… so I wonder why it’s such a big thing if a woman or girl wears a short skirt or trousers in public. Trust me grass skirts don’t hide much. 🙂 You’re right about we women changing it but sometimes it seems like a daunting task.

      1. agreed! excuse me, but when I am considered guilty 1st as opposed to being seen as innocent, that effects hyow society as a whole treats me. Who gave these people the right to see me any less than a man. Sorry I was’t born with a protruding tail on the wrong side….

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