“Where have you been?” Phillip yelled as soon as Nono walked through the door.
“At work,” she answered, walking past him.
“Your shift ended five hours ago! Where the hell were you?”
“I was out, OK?” she said, putting up her hand to shut him up.
Phillip noticed the bandage. Suddenly his anger turned to worry.
“What happened? Are you alright?” he asked, holding Nono’s hand to check on it.
“Fine, Phillip. I’m fine,” Nono said, walking to the kitchen.
“You know I don’t want you wandering around all by yourself at night. You know you’re supposed to call me to pick you up.”
“Yes, yes! I’m supposed to call you. I’m supposed to treat him too,” Nono said, waving her arm in the air. “I’m a doctor, first and foremost. It’s a must.”
Phillip realised that she was drunk. Her speech was slurry and she spoke no sense. He suddenly felt bad for shouting at her. She was, after all, a doctor and she was under a lot of pressure. Maybe something had happened at the hospital? he thought ,as he watched his wife kick off her shoes and throw herself on the couch.
“Honey, why don’t we go to bed so you can rest, huh?” he offered sincerely.
“Rest! That’s what everybody seems to be doing these days – resting,” she said as she allowed Phillip to pick her up.
“Yes love, we all need to rest at some point.”
“He doesn’t deserve to rest! He shouldn’t even be alive!” Nono shouted.
Phillip was starting to really worry about his wife’s ramblings; he needed to get her to bed immediately. And just as if Nono was sensing what he was thinking, she pushed herself off of him, falling to the ground.
Phillip tried to pick her up, but Nono shouted at him to leave her alone.
“This is all your fault!”
“I’m sorry Nono, but you must get to bed.”
“No! I won’t! Leave me alone!” she yelled, pushing Phillip’s hand off her.
When Phillip tried to pick her up again, thinking she was just having a drunken fit, Nono almost succeeded in biting his hand. Shocked, Phillip stopped and looked at her for a while, trying to figure out what had gotten into his wife.
“If you would’ve come on time, like I asked you to, none of this would’ve happened.” She said it softly, but loud enough for Phillip to hear her clearly.
“I would have come immediately had you told me you got off early,” he tried to reason. But deep down he knew that was not what she meant. She wasn’t talking about today; she was talking about that fateful day. At the realisation of it his whole world seemed to stop moving.
“So it’s my fault? Of course, it’s my fault,” she said sarcastically, laughing a drunken laugh.
He couldn’t speak; he just stood there. He was shocked that all this time he had wished Nono would say that, instead of telling him it wasn’t his fault. But now that she was blaming him, it stung. But he stood there and took it in.
“It’s all your fault. I was violated and molested, all because of you. How hard is it to keep time, Phillip? Huh? How hard is it to do what you say you’ll do, at the time that you say you’ll do it?”
She was sitting crossed-legged on the bedroom carpet as she spoke. Phillip could do nothing. Tears were falling down his face and he was making no attempt to stop them.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered. “I’m so, so, sorry Nono,” he sobbed.
“Me too,” Nono whispered, shaking her head as she thought of it all.
Phillip moved a step towards her and he was again halted by Nono’s outstretched arm and hand, ordering him to stop.
“Don’t touch me. Don’t you ever touch me.” She looked him dead in the eye as the words cut inside him. “I hate you, Phillip,” she added with a hiss as she got herself up from the floor.
Phillip watched her as she sat on the bed, and after a few seconds, lay her head on the pillow then was out like a light.
Phillip went into the living room and sat on the couch. With his head buried in his hands, he sobbed bitterly. He blamed himself and that was no secret. If he had been there just five minutes earlier, then none of this would’ve happened.
That night he was meant to pick her up from work but he was delayed. He couldn’t tell her he was running late; his cellphone battery had died. So when she got tired of trying him and getting through to voicemail, she went to catch the last bus home. It was dark and the streets were quiet, something unusual for a Friday night in Observatory.
That night, just like this night, Phillip had cried himself to sleep.
Tell us what you think: Should Phillip be blamed for Nono’s trauma? Should Nono do her doctor’s duty and treat the man who attacked her?