Darkness comes to all of us someway, anyway, anytime. Fear, ghosts and shadows are always hunting us but...I have seen it with my own eyes... We all end up feeding from fear and become stronger and ferocious. Humans can harm. Humans can cause damage. Humans can survive. Humans can forgive. Humans can heal. But humans are just not ready to be good. Not ready to be kind. Not ready to be loved.
I still remember that boy I really love and respect now. That boy that I miss. That boy who was dragged into hell and survived the devil´s attack. That boy who had the strenght I don´t have now. What a wonderful boy he was. If he only knew what a lame adult he was to become.
It was a rocky festive night in my home town, Cali. In Colombia, a third world developing country. The whole city was celebrating the Feria de Cali (Cali´s Carnival December 26 to 31). Laughs, drinks, friends getting drunk, more laughs, hapiness all over the city, but, in a poor somewhat ghetto neighborhood, a mother screams her lungs and anguish out of her chest when entering a horror scene and witnesses five men hurting her son.
Grandma is next to her. Mom looks around for anything she can use as weapon against those beasts feeding from her cub, for she was right then a wounded lioness showing predators that her son was neither to be touched nor harmed.
She grabs a machete and raises her now armed hand. A silver blink ends with one of the attackers getting a deep cut in his arm and back. There are screams and confusion. I was there lying in the floor totally exhausted. I can remember that there was no pain at all. Only exhaustion. I wanted to go to sleep. I swear to God I remembered that I had to go to school the next day. How can I, a boy, think something like that in a moment like this? I guess only innocense can do that. I´m there, wounded, bleeding, broken and all I could think about was that I had to go to school the next day.
Running steps come close to me, something pulls me into the air, I open my eyes again and remembered that it was mom ending it all. It was my mom carrying me in her arm, pulling me away from danger.
She puts her hand around my naked buttocks while holding the machete out against the drunken dogs and feels blood coming out of me. I´m in silence now. I know she will make the pain go away. Actually I don´t remember the pain now. Is that a superhuman power they have? I mean, mothers? they can really make your pains go away.
Blood is running out of the body of my dad´s co-worker. Confusion, pain, sufering, anguish, brutallity and love were all together in that room in the back of that warehouse. My mom looks at my dad and hates him. She still has the machete in her hands. Tears of hate, a broken deadly wounded heart, anguish and anger are fatal ingredients in a dramatic scene. She raises her armed hand against her drunk abusive husband and goes for him while screaming and crying.
Then I heard another scream. It was my grandma. She came with my mom and witnessed what was happening. That is one of the most vivid scenes in my mind of that night. I turned my head towards my grandma and saw that she came between my mom and my dad, got on her knees and begged for her son´s life. She cried, she begged and prevented mom from striking him with the machete. Then, everything was silenced. Hushed.
My Mom got out of the store with carrying me in one of her arms and a bloodied machete in the other one. Crying and yelling to people to help her get me to a hospital. She screams more. She wants help. People are dancing Salsa in the streets while enjoying the Salsa Carnival. She feels alone and helpless. Carrying her son who got brutalized minutes before.
I felt it in my heart you know? I knew there was something odd happening. Not only because you were away from home too long but also because your father never spent that much time with you in your whole life. That is why I went there looking for you. My heart was feeling it but how can a mother imagine that a man can do such thing to his own kid?
That is what my mom told me many years after I left my house when I was 15 years old. Many years after I decided that I was not to take any more shit from grown ups. But I was far from learning that while you are under-aged and under grown ups care bad things always happen to you. Always.
I remember now that there was noise all around when we arrived at the hospital. People talking and making mom cry even more. I don´t remember how we got there. She once told me that a woman drove us in her car and stayed there with us for the whole night, taking care of all the details while my mom was standing next to me and watching doctors and nurses put blood lines in my arms and stitches in places that only shame hides.
I called a friend of mine -
my mother says while she remembers those days when that nightmare took place- and asked him to gather a group of his friends and go to our house and get your father out of there and they did. They got him out and hit him bad. They later told me that your grandma was there with him and she was saying horrible things about us. She was saying horrible things about you. She said you deserved what you got because that was the only way to teach you how to be a man instead of being a feminine "mariquita" ladybug. Your grandmother never liked us. It all got worst when your sister was born.
My mind will always remember those days in that hospital. Grown ups were looking at my private parts and touching me and making me feel uncomfortable. Their fingers were touching me in all the parts I ache. When are the grown ups going to stop touching me? When are the grown ups going to stop hurting me?... I remember that, from those days on, I never trusted a grown up again. I really saw them as bad people.
Mom says the police never came to the hospital. She was terrified of the Police coming to get her and take her away from me. But they never came. She was aware that she just wounded a man and that there was blood. That man must have been in a very bad shape. She was actually convincing her self that she was going to jail and I was to be placed with my father and that was a picture she didn´t like. But nothing happened.
Almost a week later. After my dad was kicked out of the house and I was recovering in my room my uncle Tony came to our house and took me to see my dad. Mom wasn´t home at that time. She had to work. Tony forced the maid to let me go even against her will. Tony forced Isabel to let me go see my dad. There was nothing that poor old woman could do against that big strong man. Mom understood later that there was nothing nanna could do and forgot about the whole thing. Because nothing happened. But they didn´t know that when my uncle took me.
Isabel ran through the streets towards mom´s workplace. Her face is all filled with fear. Tony took me by force and let her know that he was taking me to see my dad. Isabel got to the factory where mom was working, asked the doorman to
...call Edith Betancourt it is urgent her son was kidnapped...
The guy was totally worried. Mom was one of the beloved employees there and something bad happening to her was everyone´s concern. The whole factory knew about it. Mom got home early. Called my grandma and she said:
Your kid is here. My son has the right to see him whenever he feels like it. But don´t worry, Luis is leaving town for good and it is all your fault. You and that little evil boy. Luis asked Tony to get him here before he leaves. Im taking the child with me to the bus station and after Luis is gone I will take him back to you for I don´t want to have anything to do with you two ever again.
Later that night I was there in the bus station with my grandmother (his mother) Romelia, hoping my dad wouldn´t leave without me. Squeezing my hand and face against a huge window glass that was keeping me from going with him.
He didn´t turn around to look at me and say goodbye. He didn´t sit next to a window so he could gesticulate an "I love you" while the bus drove away. He didn´t wave his hand to let me know that he felt me in his heart. He just left and didn´t look back.
It was like I was part of that deep sorrow that was forcing him to leave mom and his children. I felt that way, even though I was just nine years old, I felt like it was all my fault. If I had tried harder to be what he wanted me to be like, maybe he wouldn´t be leaving. If I wasn´t the way I am maybe he would have loved me enough to take me with him.
Only if I wasn´t this thing he so much hates. All I knew was that my heart was breaking into pieces and it hurt. I hurt.
But I do know now that turning around to say good bye and look at me and see the shape I was in all because of him would make him ashamed of himself. Besides, Mom´s friends advised him to leave town and never come back. Police hadn´t been called on what happened. A man lost his arm, a mother lost her husband, a boy lost his innocence. The world lost its value. We all are beasts waiting in the dark to unleash our deepest fears. Our monsters. Ourselves.
By Mauricio Betancourt2010©