Remember me? Dove. The girl you always played tricks on. The one who was never happy. The one you never let enjoy you. The one you hated. You always bullied me. I was never happy. I grew up to know you as evil. I neither appreciated you nor did I want to keep you. My sisters are far better than I could imagine myself to be. You were always picky with whom you protected and blessed. You made me who I am today. I will never forget all the trauma and hardships I went through. But, I must agree, though you were always against me, you still stood faithfully by me through all these.
Yes, I'm that girl, Dove Santiago. In case you forgot, I am still here. Why do I feel like you've left me? Well... Are you tired of me? I find it really difficult to say this but I must. I miss you so much and I wish you'd come back. Did you leave because you felt like I don't deserve you? Or Did you leave because you felt sorry for being too malevolent to me? Well, I don't know but either ways, I feel different without you. A part of me feels totally lost. Like I was abandoned in an isolated area and left to wallow in loneliness and agony. The feeling of emptiness and useless. Another part of me, the one that hates you feels happy and redeemed. I don't know which one to follow but I think I want you back.
For the past months, I have missed your troubles so much. I got a promotion at work last Tuesday and my boss, Jerry Humphrey actually said nice things to me, oh this is so weird. I am not used to living without you. You are a huge part of me. I wish I can have you back, but...just yesterday, Elvis called and said he wanted to get back together with me but I didn't say yes, you know why? It's not entirely because I felt like he cheated me but because I felt like you would be proud to see bad things to me. I loved him anyway, I still do and I always will. I refused the second true guy I loved immeasurably for you to return, don't disappoint. Let me take you on a very long adventure in the form of a story on why this whole thing started in the first place.
I made my first appointment with you when my parents decided to have a baby, me. I officially commenced this rocky journey with you on the thirtieth of December in 1986. With great joy, I came into this world, out of Mama's womb to be welcomed with scorn. Born in the living room of one Mrs Francisco, a mid-wife friend of Mama. I was born on the rug on the floor of Mrs Francisco's apartment in Idaho in a time when there was little respect for the girl child. Maybe the bundle of joy I brought along from my maker was enjoyed for a while, but soon forgotten. Mama may have welcomed me with a smile but very rarely tried to let me know how much she cared though it happened rarely or just almost never happened.
Papa welcomed me with an obvious frown which stuck to his face till today. It formed an older version of him almost immediately after he confirmed I was a girl. The gender discrimination against girls was still common then but I think he just hated me because he hadme outside. Soon after, relatives testified on how fast he had aged in weeks. Above all of these, my parents had me when the were still very young. Mama was 17 when she conceived me and had me at 18. Papa was 19 when I was born. Living in a primitive community, they were mocked and rebuked for being promiscuous at such a young age and being a constant plague in their life that reminded them of such horrible events.
Mama was a young high scholar when she started seeing Papa. Papa had a Mom who actually never knew his father and although they were comfortable, he lacked a lot in moral upbringing. He was kept in the care of one lady Clarkson, his babysitter till he turned twelve. Though Clarkson was a woman of great respect and integrity and despite her countless efforts to bring him up in the right way, the promiscuity of Papa's Mom, my Abuela nullified all her efforts. Abuela had multiple partners and would never not sleep with only one man in a day. She had this insatiable thirst for sex and things that had to do with seduction which contributed immensely to her wayward life.
Despite all the evil they said about my wonderful Abuela, I loved the fact that she loved her son, her only child, my Papa. She loved him so much but as she herself did not receive love from her parents and healthy advice, she was forced to fend for herself in the streets at 6. That's why she considers the streets as home. I also loved Abuela good because she loved me the most of all my siblings. I was her favorite grandchild and I still am. She was always too good and nice to me. Sometimes, too nice. She was like my guardian angel. She was the only true family I had and I could have never imagined my life without Abuela.
Abuela went ahead to fire Clarkson in 1979 when she decided to become a full-time mother to Papa. A mistake that was going to have lasting effects on future generations to come. She withdrew from her job as a full-time stripper to become closer to Papa in the daytime so, by nighttime, while he's in bed she could return to work. She could earn up to $4000 or more a night. Abuela was a very rich and comfortable woman. She appreciated living alone and taking good care of herself by herself. She had only one child who unfortunately couldn't stand her lifestyle so, in practical sense, one can say that Abuela had no family and was practically a very lonely woman.
Abuela had this habit of bringing home different men. Usually, of widely different age groups from hers. She sometimes brought men way older than her but most often, much younger men whom she joked rejuvenated her. Ewwwww! As a child, I used to visit her in Memphis every holiday period for three reasons. The first, because I would like to escape my parents's tortures and enjoy a long work-free holiday. Two, to earn some extra cash through the money I make from doing her chores. I mowed the grass, cleaned the house, made dinner, washed her car, went to the grocery store, made her lists and even picked the beans often. She was a workload. She gave me some cash, $20, sometimes whenever she was in a happy mood, she'd give me $50. I used to save it with Mrs Francisco, who later became an important part of my life. The third, being my unusual love for her chicken casserole. No one makes chicken casserole like my Abuela. I would always prepare the ingredients in the evenings and when she got back, I'd stand beside her and observe her cook. Which I did till I turned fourteen. Memories! She always added some nice herbs that'll smell so nice around the entire neighborhood. For cooking, she was an undisputed Grammy award winner though she rarely cooked.
Our holidays usually lasted a few weeks so I had enough time to get to know Abuela the more. Each day I saw her, I learned a new thing about what her true personality was. She was like Shakespeare's novels. Her true identity was not so pronounced by how she chose to live her life. Deep down, she had emotions and feelings as well. She often posed a tough personality to people but she was rather weak inside. She was particularly hurt that Papa didn't visit her. She loved him so much but she never complained as she wanted to appear strong.
One afternoon as I was cleaning the house, I was about nine and a half when I found a glass jar containing a whitish substance. It was unusually placed beside Abuela's bed as I thought it was salt. I quickly returned it to the counter in the kitchen of her cottage. After cleaning, I returned to the kitchen to have lunch. Abuela only cared about making dinner, I had to survive from the morning till the night of every day, waiting for her to prepare dinner. I was totally free and capable of making breakfast and lunch whenever I wanted. Abuela's pantry was stocked with enough food to feed thousands. She of course made a lot of money from her job, which as at the time, I was not aware of. I wanted to have soup.
"Let's see," I said as I looked at the pantry. From the big, hard and full jars of milk and juices and jams to the cylindrical tins of soups, I stood in amazement in front of the shelves. I had so much to choose from. It was a day I was never going to ever forget, ever. I finally decided to make soup. I took a can out in order to make carrot soup. I used the instructions on the tin of canned soup. I also innocently added some teaspoons of the "salt" contained in the glass jar. Little did I know the real contents of the jar. I was so naïve and young. The soup was pretty delicious on its own. I enjoyed using an old bowl we used to call "Grandma bowl". The name derived either because of its ancient or primitive or weird design or because it was usually found in the home of elderlies. I was initially okay. I soon started stooling non-stop. I experienced nausea as well. At my age I could not understand what was happening. I believed it was just a mild allergic reaction. I had hallucinations and dilated pupils and a whole lot more problems.
When Abuela eventually got home by 8pm. I cried in relief that I saw her. Of course, she wasn't alone but I was too sick to pay attention to him. All I could remember was that he was rather muscular. Abuela was not drunk, in comparison to her partner who was dizzy and lost in Alcoholandia.
" Poor girl, what happened to you?," Abuela asked with total sincerity. Still struggling to make words, Abuela carried me up from the floor, where I laid and took me to her car. She drove to the hospital. The doctor confirmed I had taken cocaine. Abuela, being so distressed, called Mama immediately. Mama came some hours later by which time, I was up. She seemed pretty worried so Abuela tried to console her. I explained what happened to Abuela and Mama at the hospital. Abuela was so disappointed and ashamed of herself that she began to weep. Mama was not happy but neither of them would tell me what the whitish substance was. I felt like I was not important.
When we returned to Abuela's cottage, Mama asked me to pack my things. It was absurd. I didn't know what was going on and then my vacation was being shortened. I packed my things because my Mama was not the kind of person to mess with. With heavy hearts, Abuela and I parted. And we left, using the Subway, from Memphis, heading for our little home in Cincinnati. It was a really long journey. Mama seemed really concerned about my well-being. She laid my head on her laps where it stayed till we arrived the train station in Cincinnati many hours later. We returned home soon, the next morning. Papa was furious with me. He shouted for hours. He finally summarised by warning me never to go back to my Abuela's cottage in Memphis ever again. The world was coming to an end. Jessica, my younger sister was standing by the room door beholding what was going on, though I doubt she understood even a bit of what was going on. She was already used to the shouting at home. Papa went ahead to shout at Abuela too when he called her. He eventually barred me from going to my Abuela's cottage. I didn't like it. She was the only person in the world that genuinely loved me and placidly showed it as often as she could.
All in all, she was my favorite Grandma. In fact, my only Grandma; I didn't meet Mama's Mom. So, I was on a quest to bring her back into my life. Papa didn't have to separate us. His decision made us drift even further apart. We kept malice for close to the next autumn when his first words to me were,
" I miss your tea, make a glass for me, would you?".
And although I was still upset, I reassured myself that Papa still loved one thing about me. Yet, something in me felt like he loved just the tea and not me. I quickly rushed to the kitchen and made the possibly best tea for him. I brought it to him. Things started seeming well between us. Our relationship started healing it's long gotten scars. The scars weren't just the physical scars I had on my back and arms from his constant whipping, but also the emotional scars as well which were supposed to have a lasting effect on how my relationship with Papa was to continue.
As you made it, Jessica became my closest companion and our relationship seemed unbreakable. But as a child, it was difficult for me to live comfortably in a house where I was being rebuked for any little mistake but Jessica wasn't. Eventually, Jessica started behaving like she owned the house and was the favorite child. It was no doubt that our parents loved her more than the little "love for humanity" they had for me. My relationship with Jessica undoubtedly took a drastic turn in eventual years.