By Rumit Pancholi
Monday, June 12, 2000 at 21:19:51
[NOTE: we received this a few weeks ago WITHOUT an e mail address. If you know Rumit, please let him know we would like the balance of this story. Rumit, we have you in our prayers.]
The first and only impression I have of my father is with a bottle of liquor in hand. Day after day, he guzzled down what seemed like kegs and kegs of alcohol. But I'm sure it was quite less than that. Maybe. Ever since my lovable Mom was murdered one day, my dad took on a more extreme binge of potation.
From my ajar bedroom door, I peered through a ribbon of light, carefully listening to what the cops told my indifferent father. "She was found dead in the park across the street, beaten, strangled."
I didn't want to hear any more, so I shut my door, a mix of aloof voices continuing on the other side. I cried and cried, the tears hot and burning my pale cheeks. Such a brutal crew of words slapped me repeatedly, until the words appeared on my face almost naturally.
What hurt me the most was that I knew who it was that did this to my mom.it was my own father! I wouldn't have dared go to the police and tell them what I had known, for I would have ended up on the streets. So my mouth stayed sealed, a witness's testimony left supersonic.
Drinking was the major topic of my parents' disputes. Mom never liked him when he was
drinking and refused to tolerate it. Still and all, my father would beat my mom, not
caring what she had to say. I could hear her muffled weeping at night, the icy air gliding
her sobs into my room. Her sobbing often made me sad even during happy days and pierced me
like slivers of hot iron. I remember often she would tell me her biggest mistake in life
was her marriage to him.
I didn't want to believe it, but it was true. I stifled my sadness with a solid expression. I was only seven, but knew what she was feeling, nevertheless. The beating, the angers, the tensions-they all came to me as disease-infested syringes injecting harmful venom in my mother and me.
My dad didn't pay any more attention to me as did before my mother was murdered. Actually, he didn't even acknowledge my presence most of the time, due to his nauseating intoxication. When he did seldom notice me, he ordered me to get a bottle of whiskey for him, throwing a few bills in my direction. Other times, he would thrash me, yelling curses and telling me I'd never live up to any standards.
I obeyed him but tried to stay out of his way as much as possible. I tried to stay at my friend's house as many times as I could, until her mother would criticize me and would declare me as a bad example for her child. She thought I was a curse and that I shouldn't disquiet her family any more than I already had.
I took upon the woods behind our house as a retreat to my household problems. I went out there one afternoon and the small animals that lived there became my friends. They seemed to have loved me more than my father could ever think of loving someone.
One summer, I walked through the small woods and admired the family of birds cradled in
a nest, "At least you have your family, alive. and they must love you. If only I
could." My mother was the only person I considered as my family. I hadn't cared for
my father or his carousal of alcoholism.
I crouched at the cusp of the tree stalks, trying to smile at the happy habitat. Yet, flashbacks of my somber life flooded my head like a windy tempest. Memoirs of broken promises and relentless hate emerged, shards of shattered glass scattering across my head, puncturing my brain.
I broke into tears, shouting into the open air, for no one to listen to.
"Don't cry." I heard a voice, pacific and calm.
I looked up, afraid. A girl my age placed a comforting hand on my shoulder, "Who-who are you?"
"Don't be afraid. My name is Chloe. Why were you crying?"
First hesitant about talking, I said through tears, "I-I.my mom was murdered and I'm so alone." My voice trailed off somewhere in the meandering woods.
"I'm so sorry, I know it's hard.It's hard for me too. I come here to just talk to the birds about things. What's your name?"
"Lisa." I replied in my meek, but sad voice.
From that day on, Chloe and I would talk forever in the woods, about how our situations
are so much alike. She, in a house with an abusive mother, and me, in a house with an
alcoholic father. We talked, we laughed, and we played together, sharing moments of
happiness that would try to redeem the former pain and suffering.
In such a short time, we had become such good friends and then one day, both of our lives changed.
I came home from the woods and saw my father waiting for me, in his black armchair. He looked at me with two, cold eyes. He got up, his body oscillating with vertigo. "What are you doing in my house?! Your mother was nothing but a lousy housewife! I don't want any trace of her in my house. Get out you.!"
He slumped onto the floor, unconscious, his bottle still clung to his hand like a baby's embrace on a teddy bear. I couldn't take it anymore, and something subliminally made me call the police, as if I were in a trance. I revealed everything I knew to them-from my mother's murder to Chloe's personal grief. I could never believe I had done such a favor until the next day.
I couldn't remember all that happened next, for it was all so sudden. I was inside a dark car, begin driven away from my house, far away. Far away from my father. Far away from his ceaseless drinking. Far away from his negligent ways. Far away from.Chloe. She was moved to another home across the country.
I realized later on in my third week at my foster parent's home something important. My father had died that night. And I hadn't ended up in the streets as a stray orphan. And later, something nagged me then on, something remorseful: I would never see Chloe again.