My Last Duchess by Robert Browning

Dear Lord, my Father in heaven, I pray for my life, bless my soul for I do not know what to do, who to trust or what to say.

Here, I am locked up again in a storeroom at the end of the corridor, the darkest place among the house, for how many times I do not remember. It is filled with frowsty smell of old furniture, where rats can join my company, waiting to be rescued. It is so still that my heartbeat seems so clamour in comparison.

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I was warned by my servants not to have any kind of contact with any other man beside my husband. I must do what I am told, and speak when I am asked. I am living like a puppet, with my husband who has taken control over me. Who have I married? A beast, who likes having power over life?

My father, my dearest, teach me how to be with this man, teach me how to forgive him seventy times seven times, for he is my husband.

Every time he offers me wine, my emotions tell me the wine is poisoned. Whenever we have supper together, I wonder if the food is poisonous as if I were on the edge of my life. Being in that gloomy atmosphere in his huge, dark dinning hall makes me feel nerves, both towards my husband and this place.

If I had a second choice, I would rather not know anything about his previous wife, their relationship, nothing at all. However, God, you have designed my path for me. I think I could be with you by now, if I had not heard about this man from the servants, of how a wife of his should behave and what manner I should have.

My Father, are you testing my patience? I shall always pray until you respond to me.

Since the wedding night, I have been treated well but I have felt controlled. My husband is the kind of man whom I had always dreamed of, but his actions frighten me. We should always watch people’s actions rather than listen to their words. This is always on my conscience. Father, is it you that reminded me? Are you trying to help me through?

I remember once, when the two of us took a walk round our garden. It nearly took us half a day; our conversations were always about him, his business, his last wife, his relatives. Whenever he started speaking of his last wife, I had to force myself to think of some other subject and try my best to change the topic as I became jealous every time he mentioned her name. However, I failed. Or, in other words, I did not dare to do so as he is obsessed about having power over everything. For every word that I say, I had to look into his deep brown eyes to make up my speeches; make up my speeches to please him, to impress him.

In getting on with my husband, I know well that he will not tolerate with anyone who is out of his control. I am like a bird in a cage, knowing that even a canary can sing what it wants, and when it wishes while I cannot sing anything.

I am not allowed to go to some places in the house. As the house is huge, there are lots of passages in the basement, each to a different exit according to the servants. It is possible to get lost among these passages. However, although I do not know the way, I have always been able to find the right way out, though I have tried continuously to get lost, in order to escape from this cold-blooded devil.

During the first few months, as he had several friends visiting, I often chatted with them whenever I felt dull. I would walk down stairs, passing the painting where his ex-wife sits, staring from the couch. I feel sick every time I pass the corridor, as if my very body was reacting against her presence. Lord, would you heal my illness, as I know I cannot go through this alone?

I would then chat casually with the visitors as if I did not pay any attention to their visiting, to show that I took no notice of them at all but my husband only.

However he was not satisfied with me, he began to lock me in before his friends’ visits. When people asked about me, he would think I was having an affair-which, as a matter of fact, I did after four years suffering in this jail, this hell.

He is Thomas. A charming man with deep brown eyes, which suck your soul in when having eye contact. He is a very close friend of my husband. It really surprised me when I knew the friendship between the men. How can such a devil have a friend like Thomas, a man as gentle as the breeze but who loves as fiercely as a gale? He promised to bring me out of this hell at the first moment that he knew how badly I was treated. ‘But when?’ I asked hopelessly. ‘Immediately.’ He responded with the most assuring tone. I love him, but love him even more for the hope that he brings me, and for the way that he shows his love.

Thank you Lord, my saviour, for rescuing me, for giving another chance of being loved, being cared for, being missed and being needed.

I pray for tonight, for becoming, as a beloved woman, what I really deserved to live. Bless the ones I love and the ones I hate, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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