“THAT ‘STUPID SLUT’…”

When you watched the news this morning on TV, you knew that she’d never be coming back. She was gone for good.

Of course, you should’ve seen this coming. You might look at me in anger and shoot back: “How dare you. How dare you blame this all on us! She should’ve known better. Why didn’t she think with her brain?”

Excuse me? Of course, it was your fault! She’d told me all about how you’d always treated her, ever since she was a little girl. So she was rather chubby like her old man. So what? What was so bad about that?

Why did you have to keep comparing her to her older sister? Why did you let them do that to her too? Worst of all, you’d never backed her up, supported her. You told her to lose weight, so people would stop making such nasty comments about her body.

So she started doing whatever she could, just to seek your approval. She ditched foods. She threw up. However, when she fell sick, you still blamed her for not looking after herself well. You never asked. You never wondered why.

“Why can’t you be like your sister more?” Well, what kind of a stupid question is that? Of course she couldn’t. She was never her. She was who she was, like the person she’d always been. Why didn’t you see that?

Why wouldn’t you? If you had, she might still be here today.

Do you know why she’d become an overachiever – both in school and at work? She knew she was never as bright as her older sister was, but at least she’d tried. She’d been making more money and a great career, in hope that you’d have seen that and just been proud of her. She’d hoped that you’d have overlooked her not-so-ideal, physical features (well, according to you) and just loved her.

Instead, you never did. You kept reminding her of what she hadn’t got yet: a boyfriend…or better yet, a husband. She was 34, but then again – so what? Shouldn’t you at least have been grateful that she was alive and well, that she was still willing to care for her family?

“You need to lose weight. Don’t you want to have a boyfriend?”

“Don’t get too picky. Know your age.”

Go ahead. Keep on blaming her for everything. Or blame the guy she was last seen with. Thankfully, somebody had seen the two of them together before she fell off the cliff and crash-landed on one of the huge rocks by the waterfall.

He claimed to the police that it had been an accident. They’d only been going out briefly. It was nothing serious, he’d said. He was just looking for fun, but she’d been infatuated by him. Desperately in love. Desperate for a real relationship.

He said he hadn’t meant to kill her. It was just a light push.

I can still understand her fear. After countless breakups, she was afraid. She was slowly losing her confidence, because you kept reminding her to fetch what any normal woman her age should’ve got already. A husband. A family, with a kid or two at least.

You’d always overlooked her other achievements. That’s why she’d been too happy when he came along. She’d thought that maybe that was it: he’s the one. She did whatever he’d asked of her. She’d stopped listening to all her best friends’ warning. Her friends, the non-blood-related people who’d loved her unconditionally – far better than you ever did.

Then she’d gone traveling with him!

She’d stopped sharing her stories with you. Why? She’d wanted to give you a surprise. Perhaps this time, she’d bring a guy home to introduce to her family. Perhaps they’d make her stop feeling guilty and ugly.

And he was afraid. They’d done it, you see? She’d been late for three months. If they’d broken up and he’d left her, she knew how it would turn out: it would be all on her. If people found out, they’d call her easy. They’d label her as ‘that stupid slut’, despite her college degree and great career.

It could happen to anybody, you know? Even to ‘good girls’, believe it or not.

Anyway, it doesn’t really matter now. Congratulations, she’s gone. You’ve lost a daughter, a sister, a niece. It was all because of how you’d treated her, how you’d always made her feel.

‘That stupid slut’? That young woman most people would label her as that?

No, that wasn’t her fault. That was not even that guy’s fault. How come?

Because that was yours. You’d never reminded her just how beautiful she always was, no matter what. If only you had – even for just once in her entire life, she’d definitely still be around by now…

R.

(Jakarta, 26/11/2015 – from The Couchsurfing Writers’ Club Gathering @Anomali Coffee – Senopati, 8:00 pm onwards. The writing challenge topic: “Violence Against Women”.)

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