A Normal Day

In this beautifully-written story, Dawson student Maryam Parvez reveals how gender-based violence touches generations, but remains surrounded by silence.


Darkness overwhelmed her, it seeped into her pores and grew. She was not always like this, frail, weak with a body that was just bones, and eyes that were lifeless. No, she was not supposed to end like this. Her once round and beautiful face had shrunk to the point her eyes seemed to be bulging constantly; as if there were two hands taking her life away slowly. No, she had had eyes that showed eagerness to enter the world and make a change. She could not have known that she would end up here, at this moment, in a room where darkness was her companion where she lay sprawled on the floor, unable to move.


“Mama! Mama!” she wailed at four years old. Her mother silently shook and did not respond to her daughter’s cries. She would not face her daughter to show her what her face had become. I mustn’t let her see me, she thought, she needs to sleep, she needs her teddy; yes, I’ll turn the light off. Darkness will help me.

The light is off and her cries seem ever more so haunting like a wolf howling in the night.

“Hush, baby, hush. You can’t cry like this. Be brave, my child, be brave.” The pain was torturous when she spoke. Open her mouth and she was beaten, open her mouth to comfort her child and she was punished. Stay quiet forever. Yes, that is the solution to my problems, the mother thought. Her eyes had swollen to the size of a fist and were the color of a ripe plum. Blood seeped out of her nose into her mouth and she could not stop it. The smell of the blood, like coins in her hand, was making her nauseous.

Yet, she fought when he attacked her with a knife. He had gotten her, swiped that knife into her flesh as if her skin was made of paper, a clean cut down the arm and across her jaw.

My baby needs a mother, my baby needs me.


Her mother had ironed her clothes stiff for her graduation. She was excited, and so eager to walk down the aisle to get her diploma. After all, it’s not everyone who gets to graduate grade six, especially in her family. At the ripe age of twelve she almost had the same level of education as her parents. But this is why her father came here, for a better life for his children. This girl adored her father, but didn’t understand why her mother was so quiet all the time. She barely spoke. A little nod here and there, a hmm and ohhh. Her father, too, was somewhat reclusive and scary, she thought. His hands were scary. Big with veins sticking out like tree roots. Nonetheless, she loved her father dearly: he gave her the opportunity to get a higher education. And she would make her father proud. High school: the next step. She felt a shiver at that thought.


Thud, thud, thud. No, no, no, no. No more please, she begged, in her head. Never did she voice her pleas. No use, just like an animal can cry all it wants in a cage it never gets out. Why did she say yes to her father when this wedding proposal came? How could she ever have loved this man? He was so gentle at first. His eyes would gleam whenever she walked by. Now, there’s an emptiness, a void. It’s not her fault she aged. It’s not her fault he’s always in a drunk stupor. It’s not her fault he can’t keep a job. Yet, he blames her. You are the worst thing that has happened to me. And from there on, he becomes more creative: I only married a whore like you so I can come here; you were a disgrace to your father and a burden to me, and he would continue with a slur.

The worse is when the children are there. The daughters are beaten along with the wife. The two boys are shielded from this and sent to their rooms. The boys, the boys, the boys! What if they become like their father? After all, if I become as mute as my mother why can’t they become as violent and inhuman as their father?


She heard the expensive perfume bottles breaking. She imagined her mother fell and her father was picking up the tiny shards of glass, while cautioning her mother to not step on the glass. The tiny shards scattered on the floor. There was blood. Undoubtedly, father would tell mother to be more careful; and if there are any bruises on her it must be because of the fall. No more thought was given, she had homework.


All the men were sitting and having an uproar. “You saw that sweet thing on the street? Aye, was she something! Her legs never ended and her hair”, she was next to her mother making tea for those men. Is this what they think of us? No, no, of course not. She noticed her mother was trembling, she looked smaller as if she was cowering in her own shadow. Lately, that’s what she was: a shadow in the house.

Slapping their thighs they continued their meaningless talk while smoke swirled around them. The girl (or should we say woman as of now?) entered to bring tea and pastries for those men. She didn’t go back inside. The men stopped talking. “Go inside”. “Yes, yes I will sir,” she began, her heart was pounding, “I just wanted to know who you were talking about?” Her father stood. He walked towards her. She remained standing, but not for long. It burned, that spot where his hammer like hands made contact with her doll-like face. It was red and it throbbed. The men were quiet. No body rose to stop him. But truth be told, this was not the first time.

Maryam Parvez

Health Science

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10 Responses to A Normal Day

  1. Sabrina Gagliardi May 4, 2016 at 11:59 am #

    Wow, what a powerful story that is both beautiful yet deeply saddening. I had not read the title “A Normal Day” before reading the story, but when I finally took note of it at the end of reading the entire story, that is when I felt the most pain. The terrible events described in the story are understood to be that of every day occurrences. It really emphasizes the notion about silence only perpetuating violence to the point where it just becomes a casual act. The young girl loves her father and respects him because his wrong doings to her mother have been silenced. This shows the importance of addressing violence and acknowledging the perpetrators. In any case of violence, I believe it is crucial that the perpetrator be called out for it and punished. As we see by the silent mother and the men at the end who do not speak a word when the father hits his daughter, a lack of voice and recognition is what allows the violence to persist. It is a shame when victims are unable to speak their minds and stand up for themselves but it absolutely shameful when those who can defend and protect the victims choose to be silent. The bystanders are in fact supporters and should be punished as much as the perpetrators. My respect and best wishes goes to the author of this personal story. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Steven Philippas May 7, 2016 at 1:02 pm #

    This article was very well written, often dark at times but that added to the overall effect of the short story. The way the women in the story would try to rationalize and ignore the abuse is very telling of the gender based violence that stems from older generations of males. How they ask why did they did something that they knew would get them hit rather than why are these men hitting me at all shows the level of mental abuse these women have gone through. This short story also does a good job at showing how they begin to ignore the violence at times and try to think its something else in order to go on with their day.

  3. Sewsen A. May 10, 2016 at 9:34 am #

    Very moving story! It was hard to read at times, but I wish it were longer. (write a book!!) I was most touched by the fact that the you would write from the young girl’s point of view. Indeed, in most cases like the one we read, women are not encouraged to speak; their opinion is invalid. However, through this story, I feel as though they finally have a voice. One selection that made me especially sad was the fact that the father in the story would only express his anger on the women of the house, which in turn, could teach the sons that hitting girls is normal.

    Everything about this story, every little detail, goes to show how sexism is still alive in our society. From the men lusting after the girl to the daughter’s public humiliation, it really feels as though that women are views as inferior beings. But we are not!!
    This story is a great lesson for all! Maryam, I think that you should keep on writing! Not only will it help bring awareness to a very prevalent form of gender-based violence, but you would be a true hero for all the women out there who are too afraid to unleash their deepest, darkest thoughts.

  4. Samantha May 12, 2016 at 10:06 pm #

    The story is wonderful but shocks me very much. I very much appreciated the light and dark contrast between each other. The thing I found most interesting was the age differences of the girl and how the story continued smoothly. Very touching. It troubles me to think a human could hurt another human with such violence and aggressiveness. As the author describes the cries and screams, and could just imagine her voice shaking and crying and it gets to me on an emotional level.

  5. C.Charles May 12, 2016 at 11:41 pm #

    It is very sad that victims of domestic violence are reduced to silence. Not because they want to, obviously, but because they are paralyzed by fear. The partner they once loved, trusted, depended on has become the one they fear the most. These women are unfortunately scarred for life, and are left with a set of issues including trust issues, and even PTSD or depression in some cases. It is easy to read stories like these from the outside and think: “why don’t they get out? Why can’t they just leave?” I have asked myself those same questions on multiple occasions, but it is very hard to capture the state of these victims without being a victim ourselves.

  6. Rachel Camiré October 24, 2016 at 4:34 pm #

    The thought that some men wouldn’t feel the need to act when a woman is physically abused is so sad yet not surprising. I’m hoping this will change and people won’t stand by anymore when witnessing such hateful acts. I know some people say it’s “none of their business” or that “he’s her father so he’s allowed” or that “she’s his wife so he’s allowed” but I think those are just excuses to help them look away and not feel guilty about it. People need to realize that nobody has the right to hurt others and that if you see it happen and simply walk away, you are not much better than the one who is inflicting the pain.

  7. Elsa Wauters November 28, 2016 at 9:34 pm #

    This story reveals a terrible yet hidden side of our society. It is extremely easy to pretend that everything is fine, but is it really? Your powerful story shows how a family can be broken in the outside, yet tries to hide it in the outside. I also really liked the fact that you use the relationship of a mother and her daughter, because nothing is stronger than that.

  8. Jessica Marcotte December 4, 2016 at 8:58 am #

    “Wow”. The quick pace of the story really took me aback, but I truly loved it. It showed an original perspective of domestic violence that effectively reached me. Truly a great way to spread awareness about a gruesome topic without any veil or restraint.

  9. Elizabeth Breuner December 6, 2016 at 11:05 pm #

    This story was very well written. I liked how she began from the perspective of a small child and then let it evolve to the time where she is understanding more and more about what is happening around her. I liked how the title “A Normal Day” could be so different for so many people. I instantly pictured my everyday and it created an instant juxtaposition as soon as I started reading and discovered that this everyday did not mirror my own. A lot of people myself included take our everyday for granted, it was hard to read this story, knowing that this could be someone’s reality. This story really reflects how present sexism and domestic violence still is in our society today. It’s sick that with all the changes and movements to enable the genders to be treated and respected equally, there is a very present bias that women are the weaker beings. It’s inspiring that someone would put these experiences on paper; it could be a stepping stone for other young women to share their feelings and maybe learn that they are not alone in the world.

  10. Wen Qing Hu December 7, 2016 at 11:59 pm #

    This story is very shocking as victims of domestic violence are reduced to silence because of fear. In my opinion, no matter how close you are with the person who abuses you, you can always report it to the police because violence is never acceptable. Confessing the act and talking about it can solve many of the problems. Don’t try to stay in silence as there are many people who can help you. The more people talk, the less domestic violence there will be.

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