Today, facing my mother´s (apparently) poor memory of the past made me feel more frustrated than ever before in my entire lonely pathetic life. Today, I realized that this woman has a dark side that I don´t like. She made me remember those years when I was a little boy under her care. I remembered her cold looks after I left my father´s room when I had to bring him his usual cup of coffee made by her. Today I felt her cold heart... again.
This morning at 8:00 a.m. my heart got thorned. I felt like I was being left alone with the hate poisoning my insides. But even though I recognize the kind of heart she has. She gets me all confused when she tries to reach out and get close to me. I know she is not a monster. She loves us. But I don´t quite understand her love.
I have to grant her the strenght that she had when she faced my father and saved me from him. I am absolutely convinced that if it hadn´t been for her, he would have killed me in one of his attacks. But then, when my memory fixes in the past I get confused. Why did she save me then if she wasn´t going to give a shit about me later?
This small minded woman survived the worst years of her life because she got blessed by The Architect with a basic animalistic heart. It´s just that simple. Her simple, basic, uneducated mind was able to avoid the hurt of the past merely because she just didn´t have the tools in her hands to analyze and internalize her anguishing situation. She cried back then, she suffered, but when it was over, she moved on. Why was it that easy for her? Was that intelligence? Brightness? Fierceness? Just plane negligence or pure and simple lack of self conscience.
This unaware-of-the-world woman suffered her first marriage with stoicism, pride and hope for a better future but not because I was there or because my sister came later, no. She was able to endure all that because she had dreams for her future only for herself and that was something no one could take away. She fixed her heart in the future and extracted her body and soul from her painful present those days. She knew all that suffering was going to have an end eventually. But she was thinking only in herself.
However and despite all what happened, today I look at her and see no damage done to her soul. She can sleep like a baby I´m sure, and she doesn´t have a clue that I can not rest at night. My soul is all screwed up, torn to pieces and that infuriates me to the bones.
When I see her eyes and can´t identify a glance of regret, is when the rage comes and takes over my chest and while I give her a dirty look, my mind wonders: What´s wrong with her head? Doesn´t she remember? Did she forget all what happened? Wasn´t she aware of what was being done to me back then?
When I see her having a normal life, bragging about her perfect little world I want to yell in her face. I want to shake her and look her in the eye and dare her to deny my past.
Yeah mother! Tell it to my face. Tell me that nothing happened then. Lie to my face and tell the world that I dreamed it all.
I need to have peace of mind. I need for her to acknowledge what happened then. To say I AM SORRY, FORGIVE ME.
But no. That is not happening. When I see her smiling I feel like taking my shirt and pants off and demanding her to look at me and see my scars. They are everywhere.
"Don´t you remember this one Mom? It happened when I was five. What about this one? Hey! Look at me damn it! this one here happened when I was six. What can you tell me about this other one here hu? It happened when I was eight. What about this one here?... touch it... can you remember how I got it?...don´t you remember what happened to me? DON´T YOU FUCKING REMEMBER MOM? What about what happened in the back of the store where dad attacked me with his friends? Hu? What about that? Don´t you remember? Don´t you see these marks? Don´t you see my father´s tracks of his abuses?
But I know what´s her answer...
"Why should I bother? I don´t remember anything. I can´t remember mi amor, sorry. But I see that you are O.k. now no? Here you are... all handsome and grown up. It doesn´t really matter, what happened in the past, since you turned out good anyway right? You didn´t need any of us... you made your way through life and got everything that you wanted and dreamed to have? Didn´t you mi amor?
My face heats up and I feel the anger rush coming. She just doesn´t feel my pain anymore. Doesn´t know that all I want is to rip my heart out of my chest and put it in her hands and make her feel what my heart feels all the time.
The rage that cuts it in little pieces more and more. The anguish that won´t let it rest. The sadness that won´t let me rest. The regrets of not having the same opportunites other kids had. The frustration of being this bittered grown man that can´t see any future ahead. She just doesn´t have the knowledge nor the intelligence to understand what is happening to me inside. She is just too simple minded. Too small.
Facing her incapacity or unwillingness of remembering our lives back then makes me hate my self for hating her so much for so many years and for resenting her actions and her poise at the events. For just playing fool. A son is not supposed to resent or have mean feeling for his own mother. That is not nature´s law. Is just a fucking aberration.
"Oh! This one is beautiful. Remember this one baby?"
She shows a big golden reindeers illumination to my youngest half-sister. She smiles as if she is happy and has nothing in her past that can possibly cloud her perfect world.
Mom asked us this morning to go up into the attic and get the Christmas decorations and ornaments. A 6.5 feet green plastic tree. All the dusty boxes with names written in their sides: Santa Claus ornaments, reindeers ornaments, bells, ribbons, crystal balls, figures; the Christian Nativity, hundreds of little figures and decorations and lights. All the cheerful decorations to cheer up the mood for the holydays.
When she started handling the decorations to us with such sparkly mood, I lost it. I just couldn´t take any more of her bullshit. I had to say it. I had to get it out of my chest otherwise it was going to chocked me to death. I felt dizzy. My upper lip got all sweaty. My armpits were sweaty. I felt like a pig ready to squeal... and I did. I squealed. This pig bastard that I am got it out of his chest. I threw it all in her face:
"I remember 20 years ago when I was 15 years old.. walking the streets of Bogotá. My feet were numbed. Not because it was a freezing Christmas night; no, but because I had been walking all night trying to find a place that could help me forget that it was Christmas and I was alone, dirty, hungry, tired and absolutely buried in sadness and despair"
The room went mute. They kept silence and looked at each other. My mother, my sisters, my older nephew, my brother-in-law and my stepfather. They didn´t know what to say and I kept talking:
"I also remember that I had to climb a tree so other homeless people won´t find me and attack me... but you know what happened? hu? Take a guess... come on Mother, take a guess of what happened then.. come on... it was a miracle"
My mother looked at me and with a sweet face but with her eyes filled with burning anger replied:
"I don´t think this is a good time to bring those kind of topics to our family reunion Mauricio. Calm down and let´s have a good Christmas season. Please"
"No Mother, I am not allowed to have a good Christmas season. I might have been given the chance when I was young but I didn´t have a family giving me the love and support that I needed to have a good Christmas season.. so... take a guess... what happened that Christmas night?... take a guess Mother"
She sat down. Dusted off her skirt. Took her white cotton gloves off and looked at me with anger, she put the gloves and the reindeer ornament aside and said:
"O.K. Let´s get over this right here and right now. You need to get this out of your chest. All right, let´s hear it. Come on Mauricio. Tell us. What was that miracle that happened that night in Bogotá when you were hiding away from people"
I cleared my throat. Drank the coffee in one sip and continued:
"I was trying to rest. I climbed a tree. It was a freezing night. When I was falling asleep I felt something dragging me off the tree. It was the police. They got me and without explaining anything they just started getting me naked in the middle of the street. I don´t remember why but they slapped me several times, I remember the heat in my face. One of them punched me with something hard and all I remember is waking up in the hospital, lay down on a mat in the floor...
In that moment, my sisters were mute. They looked sad. My stepdad got up from his chair and went to the kitchen. Mom kept looking at me. But there was no love in her eyes. There IS no love in her eyes. They are empty for me now, there is nothing inside her for me now. She doesn´t feel me. I can feel it. She doesn´t feel me anymore. She was hollowed out inside. I continued:
"A nurse saw me waking up and walked toward me with a cup of hot coffee and a piece of bread. She wished me a Merry Christmas and I just cried. I cried like there was no tomorrow. I didn´t care if people were hearing me and witnessing my little pathetic scene... all I wanted was to cry until I dry out..."
I kept explaining to them what happened to me that Christmas night. I was feeling the solitude I felt that night 20 years ago. This morning I felt the shame of being in the streets and had been treated like garbage. And then I told them something they didn´t know:
"The nurse took me to the showers and bathed me. She rubbed my back and arms and my legs. I felt her cleaning my crotch and my arm pits. She gave me a Christmas bath. She gave me clean clothes and a pair of shoes that didn´t fit. They were too big for my skinny feet. She took me to another room and asked me to sit and rest. Moments later I heard people singing Christmas carols...
...There were volunteers bringing presents to the people in hospital. There was an old man among them. He saw me. Smiled at me. Came close and started talking to me. I told him my little story. He listened. After a while they just left the hospital but, the old man, gave me something before leaving. He gave me his business card and asked me to call him if I needed any help. He promised to help me find a job...
...When I was ready to leave the hospital the nurse approached me and gave me some money. Asked me to keep my self safe and left. I started walking the streets again. Then I decided to give the old man a call. He answered. Minutes later he was picking me up in a very elegant car...
...Hi stranger... he said with a big smile. Hello! I replied timidly...we went to his house. A very elegant penthouse in a very elegant neighborhood of Bogotá. He was a wealthy single lonely man, I was a miserable teenager in the streets. He offered me a bag. I opened it and there they were. My first pair of shoes...
...Merry Christmas, he said. Thank you, I replied...
"You know why I brought you here right?"
I didn´t know for sure but I might had thought about something like that was going to happen or that he was going to ask for some sex favors in exchange for the shoes. He did ask for sex. I was 15 turning 16 and there I was, Christmas night, getting naked, getting on my knees to give him a blow job...you might be wondering how did I know how to do that being that young. Well mother, being young in the streets is an open call for perverts to hunt you down and when they get you, you just don´t fight back. You don´t fight back.
"Enough. I can´t hear ....."
My mother went mute. She got on her feet and went to the kitchen. My sisters kept looking at me with tears in their eyes. My brother-in-law was holding my hand, he put his arm around and hugged me. No one said anything. Erika, my sister, asked my nephew to go upstairs. We stayed there, in the living room, sorrounded by Christmas ornaments, in silence.
My mother came back from the kitchen with a mug in her hands. It was chocolate. My stepfather was behind her with bread, marmalade and cheese. They sat next to me and then my mother said:
"I remember that you liked your chocolate hot and thick. I remember that you liked to spread marmalade on your bread. I remember that you liked to have them in your bed and sleep after you finished them all. Let´s go amor, you need to rest now. Let´s go"
She grabbed my arm and helped me get on my feet. She took me to the room. Put me in the bed. Stayed there in silence next to me. Waited until I finished my chocolate with marmaladed bread. She tucked me in. Kissed my forehead... and without looking in my eyes, she left the room. I decided to fall asleep. I was tired. Very tired.
By Mauricio Betancourt 2010©