Married To A Devil

£5.00

By Abigal Muchecheti

ISBN: 978-1-84991-802-2
Published: 2012
Pages: 161
Key Themes: Mental Health, Breakdown, Domestic Abuse, Disability, True Stories

Description

This is based on a true story of a young woman who was born disabled. Her name is Vimbai. She had elephantiasis of the arm and this condition shapes the future course of her life. The character she is based upon is born in a remote village in Africa where disability is not tolerated. She is ridiculed throughout her youth and this results in depressions which plague her school years. They do not however, inhibit her capacity to learn. While other girls are getting into relationships, Vimbai is shying away from people. Books become her refuge. She hides away from the realities of life by reading anything that comes her way. This behaviour may be a symptom of depression but it still leaves her wiser than her peers.

The attempted rape in her first year in the city obviously does nothing to improve the situation. She has low self esteem and she suffers from panic attacks. Then, the rape at University puts her in an abusive four year marriage to Pete whose proud family will not accept that he could commit such a crime. Life in general becomes unbearable for her in this marriage, which is punctuated by numerous hospital visits for gonorrhoea treatment in a continent where HIV/AIDS is spreading like a fire. Her eating problem becomes the object of ridicule by her in laws and this makes her mental stress worse. She has problems with her fertility which are almost certainly psychological in origin ( In a later, happy marriage she gives birth to two children).The abusive marriage leaves Vimbai with a mental breakdown that keeps her on the edge of sanity throughout her life.

The book also highlights the problems Vimbai encounters, wrestling her demons. She is, however, determined to fight them and shows this with terrifying visits to a clinic for HIV/AIDS testing. She gets involved in the village fight back programme and proves in the end that disability is not inability. This book should be an education to women in different parts of the world who, whether disabled or not, have endured abuse, ridicule, rape and sexual violence. The book gives everyone hope.

About the Author

Abigal is in her thirties and lives in Faringdon, Oxfordshire. Born in 1976 in the then Southern Rhodesia and now Zimbabwe, Abigal immigrated to the UK in 2006. She grew up seeing the distress of her half- sister Vimbai and her disability. It was watching Vimbai struggle with ridicule, stigmatization, abuse and mental breakdown that resulted in ‘’Married to a Devil’’ In addition, the author was also involved with the organisation that shelters abused women in Zimbabwe called Msasa Project. Furthermore her work with Msasa Project exposed her to abused sick women who were on the verge of both mental and physical breakdown.

Book Extract

They tell me about how vulnerable I was when I was born. My mother lost a child before me, and there were fears that if things were not sorted out, according to the village belief, I would die too. My mother needed a cleansing ceremony if she was to have another live child. I survived, but before I was a year old I was very sick. I was pronounced dead, and neighbours had started gathering for my funeral. One of my uncles came and insisted that I be taken to the hospital immediately, because he could not believe I was dead.

I slowly got better, but the elephantiasis that is the cause of my disability had not yet been discovered. My father and uncle always repeated the story and always reminded me to be thankful for each day of life I have.

But I had problems as I grew up. I was always ill, and became susceptible to stomach aches. As I grew, one of my hands stayed normal, but the other one grew abnormally large – and kept growing. My height was affected too – while my age-mates were getting tall, I remained a dwarf. But my voice was clear and healthy. I was so loud, and I spoke my mind. Some people felt intimidated because I didn’t behave as I was supposed to.

My disability had never been seen in the area. It was an abomination, and I was ‘a curse’. People said that there was something wrong in our family, especially on my mother’s side – some sort of family curse. People called me all sorts of names, even people who thought they were empathizing with me.

My disability caused many problems, but no matter how hard it was for me to perform certain tasks, I always tried my best and always struggled until I succeeded. I never let anything go before trying to do it myself. I had learnt the hard way to accept my condition.

At first my age-mates laughed at me, and I found myself fighting to prove what I really could achieve on my own. It felt good to fight. People really got scared of me and my determination to do things by myself. If people did offer help, I didn’t believe they were sincere, and my suspiciousness left me with no friends.

Wherever I went, people stared and pointed at me, and I set out to prove that life goes on. I am more in control now, but back then, my biggest struggles were with things that needed physical effort. The more difficult things were, and the more unhelpful people were, the more I wanted to be self-sufficient.

It was men who most sympathized with me, but the closer they got the more they wanted to take advantage of me. And of course they had never seen anything like that before. They seemed to think that being disabled meant that part of my brain was disabled as well. If we got into a conversation, they immediately started testing how far I would let them go in caressing my arm and asking silly questions about how I managed. Was I normal in other womanly functions?

At university the men were a bit more polite and some would say, “Just wondered ma’am, no offence, just curious, that’s all.” I still had to be on guard when I was alone with a man. As Sekuru used to say, I had risen above my disability. I was an active person. How I managed I don’t know, but I am here now telling my story.


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This product was added to our catalog on Thursday 26 April, 2012.