…A real life recount of a chilling raw testimony on gender related abuse, as the world commemorates 16 days of activism (Tribute to Miriam Siula –RIP)
It is a common opinion that there is a thin line between life and death but gender based violence underlines a thin line between love and death.
And death stings. A sting of a brutal death terribly amplifies plentiful answerless questions bordering on whys, hows and whats. Unfortunately, the dead are forever on mute, leaving justice or an injustice hanging in quite an intoxicated uncertainty and a tremendous amount of speculation. The gap left by the departed throws the bereaved into a mixed bag of sympathy, mockery, humiliation, grief and a suffocation of anger that hangs on to bitterness as well as helplessness.
Such is the pain, a reality of losing a loved one due to gender based violence.
A LIFE PUT OFF, IN COLD BLOOD
Miriam Siula, ‘longosi’ as we fondly called each other, was a piece of the Siula family that harbored a great deal of potential as testified through her enormous value additions to our clan despite being young. Apart from being a darling auntie to her nieces and nephews, she was a practical muscle of hope, faith and love that kept our aging mum NyaChisenga afloat as she fulltime stayed with her at the Siulas residence in Chilinde, Lilongwe. This made Miriam a pillar for us all.
Little did we ever imagine that such a charming blessing to the Siulas would have her life cut savagely to death because she refused to be a puppet in love, because she exercised her right, because she embraced the strength of a woman, because she stood firm for what she was worth and yes, because she believed in her conscious. This warranted her abrupt death sentence via an intimate partner act, courtesy of an ex-boyfriend who stabbed her three times with a sharp object near the doorstep, right within the compound of the Siulas residence in Chilinde. Such a daring act of hate and brutality!
IS THIS HOW WE SAY GOODBYE?
Saturday, 19th August 2017, a day of doom. Miriam knocks off from work, gets home. Brother William visits from Gulliver, bringing along with him Mama NyaChisenga whom he picked up from Masintha CCAP church. Miriam convinces William to drive back to Mchesi so she can buy tangerines for her little nephews and nieces, she jumps on the ride.
He drops her back home, she gets at the living room, all hyped up and jolly -playing with the little ones. That evening, she doubles plaiting hair of her sibling Patricia amidst a relaxed atmosphere, the joy of a family being together.
THE LAST CALL, THE HOUR HAS COME
Buzz, buzz… Miriam’s phone echoed a ringtone at the living room. Fate smiled when she picked up that call. It was an ex-boyfriend calling, requesting for a glass of water. It was a lie, that brutal man was thirsty for her life. Had she known, she could not have stepped out, had her phone been off, she could have escaped the calamity but alas! Fate had concealed everything from everyone apart from the man equipped with a knife.
In such a swift and instant execution, the last those around Miriam heard from her was a loud scream ‘Kodi wabwelera chiwembu? Oh Mama akundipha ine mayooo!! (Have you come for violence? Ohh Mum he is killing me)’ Zzzz, blood gushed out from the stabbed flesh (the arm, the chest and side stomach) that was it, she was battling with death. Black out! When family members dashed outside, it was too fast but too late. The perpetrator accurately pulled a fast and furious that only dumped a lifeless Miriam lying in a pool of blood, her tongue out…she grew cold and froze right in Mama NyaChisenga’s arms. Fate won while the Siulas got lost in disbelief, fell blank. Only tears rolled and wailing took over the language to tell the story a sour love episode that became an instrument of death. The death of our sister did not come like a robber; it was a love robber that brought death.
Attempts to ferry Miriam to Kamuzu Central Hospital continuously hit a snag as motorists did not stop. Patricia went on a rampage to literally stop in the middle of the road and militantly stop a vehicle which consequently carried longosi only to be confirmed dead and confined to the cold room upon arrival at the hospital. Reality struck real bad.
HEARTLESS SOCIAL MEDIA INFERNO
In the aftermath of this tragedy, the mourning and grief was dealt with some social media mob justice remorselessly took the demise of our dear sister for ridicule by peddling baseless stories that seemingly victimized her and glorified the perpetrator of this violent act.
Disheartening and painful as this loss at hand, the viral lies objectifying Miriam as a material girl inflamed the impact of the tragedy to friends and family. It brought more pain. If only such people took time to know Miriam, they would not be peddling hearsay that eclipses her living attributes.
Some took the scorn to another level by creating a new facebook profile with her name and picture. They sarcastically used this dubious account to post obscene and wicked content. This, to say the least, only rubbed the salt on the wounds of our broken hearts. The family was left traumatized, twice –first, by the cold blooded murder of our bright souls and second by a callous people that took pleasure in trivializing and poking fun at Miriam’s death. The family only held on to the notion that ‘heavens should forgive such people because they did not know what they were doing’.
Through thick and thin, through strength amassed from various quarters of the society, our family sailed on despite knowing that Miriam was forever gone; shall never be seen again and sadly she had no slender time to bid bye or indeed say a last prayer.
The pain of losing a loved one in such a brutal manner was mitigated by overwhelming physical, emotional, spiritual and financial support from all corners. Such gestures made the send off of Miriam to her final resting place honorable. Through the tragic death of Miriam we have come to be reminded of a family beyond our blood, a love beyond our comprehension, a commitment above our knowledge. The gesture extended shall forever stand in us. The gravity of the reality shall continue to strengthen and remind us always of renewed progressive errands in as far as fighting gender based violence is concerned.
The presence of people and the solidarity march against gender based violence in the aftermath shall forever refine and define our purpose and meaning in life. Miriam rests at the Area 18 cemetery, wheels of justice are slow but she left us with an account that there is profound pain in losing a relation due to gender based violence; that ugly love beats and bites relentlessly. Gender based, or indeed intimate partner, violence is mark of a beast and the crusade against it must be a collective approach that leaves no one behind. It must live beyond the 16 days of activism. It must go on. Continuously. Religiously. Every day! Everyone has a role to play in addressing GBV through the promotion of positive masculinity.