That day, Auntie Beatrice stood outside on the streets yelling for everybody to hear. “Ashawo!”. “Whore!”. “You have no shame!”. She was clapping her hands feverishly as she jumped around to heighten the impact of her voice. I remember loud honking in the background,—from the market on a neighboring street—and whistles, and bells… Mama Chika from across the street was calling for Nkechi, her servant girl. I hoped that all the bustling would drown out Auntie Beatrice’s voice. I prayed no one was listening.
Auntie Beatrice continued up the street, still laughing and taunting my mother. My mind retreated to its safe place, and to hopefully repress the memory of this experience. I convinced myself that there was no way anyone heard her. I remember now… That day, I vowed to hate her forever.
Papa heard what happened when he came home the same afternoon. What followed until he put Auntie Beatrice’s suitcases in the trunk, and she waved us goodbye, is a blur. They argued when he returned. Papa grumbled something about Auntie Beatrice being right, and he too, walked out the door. I heard my mother cry later that night.
Auntie Beatrice left and Papa’s soul went quietly with her.
I’ve fought desperately to let go of the hate I feel. Hate towards Papa; because he didn’t have the ability, or the faith to stand up for his wife. Hate towards his sister; because she let jealousy drive her to committing this purely evil act against a mother and her innocent child. Auntie Beatrice saw me standing there; watching her. She looked directly at me when she stuck her chin up, and started to scream. Every word she spewed stung worse than the previous one.
That day at eight years old, I realized that my mother was by herself in a foreign country—a trip she made for love, and there was no one to protect her. I watched my mother’s heart break. And on this day, Papa became the man who broke my mother’s heart, and the first man to break mine.