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A frightened little girl sat huddled in the dark corner of the small room quivering with fear, her dirty knees brought up right to her cheeks, her sticky hands covering her ears to muffle the terrifying sounds coming from the other room. Next to her, her younger brothers were crying as they held onto their mother, who held them close and hushed them, saying it would soon be ok and he couldn’t get near them. This was their sanctuary when their father came home drunk and angry. She was still too young to understand alcoholism, but not too young to feel the fear inside her every time she heard him shouting and breaking up things, every time they had to lock themselves inside this tiny room. She heard each chair crack against the table, she heard the cups and plates smashing on the floor, scattering all around the kitchen floor, which they would pick up later when he finally slept, exhausted after his drunken tantrum. They would come out only when they heard his loud snores coming from the bedroom.
“One day... one day I will leave this place and live in peace,” the little girl always thought to herself. “The day will come when I am old enough to leave and live on my own.”
Imgezza kokka fir-rokna tal-kamra, Isabelle, daqsxejn ta’ tifla ta’ ħames snin kienet imwerwra, titriegħed bil-biża’, irkupptejha kollha trab imtellgħin ma’ wiċċha, u jdejha mdellka kienu qed jagħfsu ma’ widnejha, tipprova ma tismax il-ħsejjes li kienu ġejjin mill-kamra l-oħra. Maġenbha, ħutha iżgħar minnha kienu qed jibku fi ħdan ommhom, li kienet qed tipprova tikkalmahom waqt li tgħidilhom li dalwaqt jgħaddi kollox, li missierhom ma setax jidħol ħdejhom. Din il-kamra kienet il-kenn tagħhom meta missierha kien jiġi lura d-dar f’sakra ma jarax art u rrabjat. Kienet għadha żgħira wisq biex tifhem fuq l-alkoħoliżmu, imma kienet diġà taf xi tfi sser il-biża' ta’ meta kien jiġi d-dar u tisimgħu jgħajjat u jkisser. Kienet tisma’ kull siġġu jfaqqa’ malmejda, kienet tisma’ t-tazzi u l-platti jinkisru mal-art, kull ħoss inissel aktar biża’ ġewwa fi ha. Il-ħġieġ kien jinfirex mal-kamra kollha, ħġieġ u frak li kienu jiġbru huma stess wara li kien ikun raqad, għajjien mejjet wara l-pandemonju li jkun qajjem hu stess. Kienu joħorġu mill-kamra meta kienu jisimgħu l-inħir tiegħu ġej mill-kamra tas-sodda.
“Xi darba... xi darba nitlaq minn hawn, u ngħix fil-paċi,” kienet dejjem tgħid bejnha u bejn ruħha dik it-tifla ċkejkna. “Meta nikber, nitlaq minn hawn u mmur ngħix waħdi."