How to forgive a father that beat you
43% of women in Azerbaijan have experienced domestic violence, says the report of The Advocates for Human Rights
Once while in the US, Fidan’s friends treated her to some hash brownies.
First she felt weak. Then music started playing in her head. Finally, hallucinations began. There were many of them, but she remembers one in particular: as if she was in her mother’s womb.
Fidan wants to believe that it was not just a hallucination, but a memory from the depths of here subconscious, because her first conscious memory is:
“Mom is quivering near the window, holding my little brother in her arms. And across from her is my angry father, with a knife in his hand.
“How old was I then? Three? I don’t know. I remember only a beautiful woman, fear in her
eyes, and my father’s back. A single light bulb hung from the ceiling and dimly lit a narrow bedroom, similar to a train wagon from Soviet times.
“This was my world. The only world known to me at that time. Eternal beatings and mom’s eyes.
“True, I also remember croutons. An old cast-iron pan, slices of bread, a plate of eggs, Soviet butter (so yellow, and wrapped in thin paper), and the smell of roasting croutons.
“I also remember the snow. Dad would try to go to work and he’d be stuck because the door had been blocked overnight by a snowfall taller than me. That was the first big snow in my life.”
When my father started beating my mother, I fell to the floor and hugged his legs so that he would let her go. It seems it worked at times. My father would calm down.
“He often beat her. And my brother. He did not touch me. I learned to be “perfect” for him. Not indulge, not to play, to be silent. From my mother and brother, I realized how much could annoy him and get him going. I also learned to read his emotions and mood by facial expression. I could see when a storm was brewing, and I tried to make my brother understand with a look. But he never did.
“And that’s how I learned to feel guilt.
“My father wanted me to study music and chess. I so wanted to be good for him that I tried very hard. In chess there is a method of training: you sit with your back to the board, and someone tells you how the board is laid out, how the pieces are arranged. And you have something like a blind game.
I sat like that on the floor in the living room. Next to me was my dad with a collection of chess problems in his hands. I remember the smell of this old book. I always found the right answer. Not because I loved chess. I was just afraid to disappoint him.
The second time was when I was 16 years old. My friend and I went to a concert, and then decided to eat ice cream. When I returned home, it turned out that they had already been looking for me.
“I stood in the middle of the living room. Right under the chandelier, which had six candles and yet barely gave off any light. I still don’t understand why this house never had enough light.
“I had managed to change into my home clothes, removing the dress I had borrowed from my neighbor Olya. My father stood across from me. He asked where I had been. I answered. He slapped me. I thought that by saying the truth, I’d avoid punishment. But when he hit me, I exploded, I began to yell and beat him with my fists:
“‘I told you the truth! What right do you have [to hit me]? We just ate ice cream!’
“I was hysterical. Not because the slap hurt, but because it was unfair.”
The third time he beat me when I was 26. My mother and I were sitting in the living room watching a movie. He hadn’t beat her in about eight years. He had gone to a mosque after the last time, put his hand on a Qu’ran and swore not to beat her. He took this oath to make her come back to him after she got out of the house with a broken nose and a crack in her skull.
“This time, he began to scold my younger sister, and my mother stood up for her. Suddenly he swung and punched my mom in the head. In the very part where she had a crack.
“I do not remember how I jumped off the couch and pounced on him. I yelled at him, cursed him, bit him. He grabbed my hair and kicked me in the stomach. My brother tried to separate us. Suddenly my father grabbed from the table a heavy crystal ashtray and swung it at me. I yelled, ‘Throw, it, you fuck, I’ll throw you in prison!’
“He lowered the ashtray. I miss that courage of mine.
“I also miss the books. Having learned to watch my every word, I almost stopped talking. I read all the time. I remember how I’d lie on the couch as a little girl and read Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi Longstocking and ask the meaning of incomprehensible words from my mother, who in the kitchen would be preparing the most delicious potato pies in the world. I miss these pies too.
At 19, still in university, I got a job and gradually began to earn very good money. In 10 years I was able to save up for an apartment and moved out from my parents place.
Now I am 39. Twice I had to avoid marriage and refuse a groom at the last moment. Periodically, I take my mother to the places where she always wanted to go. We’ve already been at the Vatican Museums, the Wailing Wall, the Széchenyi Chain Bridge. We’ve still got the Hermitage, the Egyptian pyramids and much more to see.
Mom and dad live there, in our old apartment, with the same chandelier. Dad has aged. I go to them a couple of times a week.
For years, I had a dream in which my father was strangling mother, and I was standing nearby and could not make a sound, could not lift a finger.
Once I found a book on the Internet with tips on how to forgive parents. It seems that one of them helped me. I knew a lot about Dad’s childhood, so it was not difficult to imagine him as a child. I imagine that we’re in the same room, and I see him beaten and humiliated by his own father. In my mind, I see myself going over to this crying boy and hugging him … around the chest – not the legs.