MARTINE MOUTOU

Layla, a tender hearted little girl whose heart pounds on an endless race of love conquering, fell victim to molestation, cradled by domestic violence and cuddled by emotional abuse. Roar! Roar! Roar! Are these birds chirping? No! Powerful sounds of anger were peeking to find a stiff and still room within her soul, a soul yet too soft for a concrete recognition of the danger withheld in anger.

Barbie is her fantasy. Her mind thrusts her imagination into some squeaky clean fallacy but oh, how cheerful and beautiful is this feeling of happiness that submits the rest of her ruthless circumstances to poetic stances.

The drama does not let up, staining petals of her mind, moulding her mental mechanism with fear and anxiety as sole partners of negativity whose main devoted aim relies on building its empire of control within Layla’s stimulus, leading her life into wilderness.

“Stop! Stop!” Acute shouts bursting out of her mother’s mouth, whose parts of the body get regularly stamped by Layla’s father whose fist tattooes without ink but with violent beatings. Layla witnesses such regular events, forcefully intervening as a defence mechanism which her mother can’t display at any point in time.

Uplifting words are strangers to Layla. Void of knowledge on love, her parents instilled, unknown to themselves, doubt and insecurity into her veins. “You are lazy, irresponsible, can’t mount up to anything……”. Layla’s ears and spirit would suck this condescending vocabulary in, throughout her journey from childhood to adulthood, it disrupting the normal weaving of her self-esteem which revolved around approval addiction, soul mutilation plus a people pleasing attitude, convinced to the core, her bets of winning on love from humans would be fully scored. Little was she aware of the emotionally dependable route she would be trapped into.

A smile would regularly draw itself on Layla’s lips when hearing her parents laugh together, relieved by some rays of sunshine piercing through the usual foggy and rainy days to shortly and sadly befalling to a slight argument that would turn into a heavy downpour of some brutal and loud words screamed from the lashing out sessions her parents indulged into as a second nature capturing a happy moment. The fear of happiness would daunt on Layla who anticipates some thunder striking for every ray of sunshine; one of the shortcomings of strife, a ruling component of domestic violence.

A child’s circuit of life should be filled with innocence, security amidst storms and joyful events. Destruction is bestowed on many young lives without warning. Layla loved playing the family game in which she would be assigned the role of the mother. Innocence can quickly, violently yet subtly be snatched away by monsters clothed as supposedly caring family members. Two of her cousins, each from her mother’s and father’s side, traded candid blood related love for some twisted sexual behaviour, robbing purity.

On separate occasions, one attracted her into a dark cave and asked her to touch these parts which he should have kept private. The second wrongdoer sat Layla in front of a pornographic movie, later imposing some mild sexual scenes on Layla’s body. Child molestation leaves an imprint for life if not dealt with properly, twisting the real intimate and beautiful meaning of a loving physical fusion into a shameful moment as a sequel to initially being touched inappropriately. Layla experienced some emotional overboard till adulthood until she recognised the source of its misleading.

Layla’s growing process would be scarred by belittlement attached to the powerful forces of abusive treatment, pulling her into a sphere of rebellion where emotions are in constant motion. Layla wanders in a dark and freezing cold forest full of crows, prowling on her flesh. She weeps till tears run out of drops. She weeps till suffocation rips her heart apart. She weeps for loneliness digs its claws under her skin. Life is meaningless and the suffering vivid. Death haunts the flow of her thoughts, swamping her brain. Suicide becomes the new guide to her aimless ride. The attempts are frequent to eventually remaining irrelevant.

Misunderstood by most, Layla cries out for comprehension and justice. Honest since the nest, sincere to all species, intelligent till leaving a dent in her surrounding’s mental discernment, Layla is only being perceived rather than being seen. The world’s eyes on Layla are blurred with speculations and condemnation as dominant leaders, ruining her reputation. Judging on misunderstandings reflects a blow in a soundless whistle.

Her weapon which is nothing else than her imagination, her closest and best companion, sets its engine on, rolling a red carpet before her with some shiny, sparkly and attractive colours. An outburst of light that shakes that inner sense of death off, shifting from darkness to colours. Layla’s spirit awakens to revival, to a rising chance of turning her mess into a message; one of hope and victory!

Layla took a stand against that victim mentality, spoke herself out of it, snapped out of it with steady and strenuous effort, powering through the wilderness, falling, bruising, and yet rising above every stumbling block. Layla took her own hand and walked herself bit by bit through and out of the wilderness. Help! Help! These came and still come out of her tired soul from time to time and embracing humility, Layla knocked and knocks on several appropriate doors for support all the while her spirit is clinging to God, a living God whose love and compassion reach the deep ends of a crooked and desperate spirit. A God who is not involved with man-made religion but with a secure and deep love which is not related with judgment, criticism and condemnation! But a Love which rescues and restores! A love that turns ashes into beauty.

Layla is not where she needs to be yet but she is not where she used to be. Her journey started with a shadow swallowing any tiny luminous peep but she got acquainted with self-awareness and humility which drew her closer to that beacon of light she found in the midst of darkness. Layla, whose name means “daughter of the night” is slowly, surely and with some peaceful joy, converging to her new and restored self, especially that within her name lies “ayla” which means moonlight. Layla is becoming a beaming light overshadowing the night.