My parents divorced when I was six years old. It was such a traumatic experience that I would not be able to get over it, not even as a grown-up man. I still remember the quarrel in the adjacent room at home, mutual accusations, shouting, swearing, taunting, cursing and stomping, until the door slammed and someone left the room and rushed outside. I stood on my bed, leaned on the windowsill, and saw my mother striding down the street. She wore her red coat and carried a brown bag. The street bent to the right and went parallel with our orchard, and I waited for her eyes to turn
towardsto look at me, but that never happened. If she had moved her head just a few centimetres towards the right, she would have seen me watching her in amazement, but her goalconcern must have been to disappear as soon as possible and as far as possible. I would remember that moment year after year, and I hadhave never forgiven her. To leave my younger sister and me without a word or a sign meant the ultimate betrayal.
I was confused and did not know whom to hold responsible for the breakup, my father or my mother. I would ask myself many questions, but I never found the answers. How my father could marry my mother, was one of them. He was an experienced man who had seen the world, had a good job as a foreman at the large building company, and had not lacked social skills. He was handsome, talkative and liked by everyone. One day he was buying a pack of his favourite cigarettes at the kiosk. The garrulous woman in
athe little, stuffy, metal building had been kind and bantered with him. My father returned the next day and became a regular customer. I would never know what had been happening the following weeks and months, but he must have become infatuated with that plain woman from a village somewhere in the mountains who hardly could read and write. He must have taken leave of his senses when he decided to marry her.
He had built his house a few years before, but he had not lived there alone. He had his three sisters with him, all unmarried and uneducated. He must have been naive and mindless when he decided to bring his wife into the house to live with his sisters. His hopes had been for everyone to live in harmony, but it was a disaster waiting to happen.
A few months after my mother’s hasty departure, my father took us to the court, which was going to decide about our custody. Although I loved my mother, I wanted to stay with my father and lived on in my neighbourhood where I had so many good playmates and neighbours. We entered the courtroom, and I saw my mother for the first time after so many months. My heart beat faster and I shouted, “Mummy!” She looked at me, and I saw tears rolling down her face. She made a few steps in my direction, and just when I believed she was going to hug and kiss me, she grabbed my sister by her arm and
they twodarted outside, before anyone could do anything. My father panicked and shouted, “She kidnapped my child, and I started to yell and cry. Now I was not only deprived of my mother but also of my younger sister.
In the following days and weeks, my father searched for them everywhere. He enquired among friends and acquaintances and wandered the streets looking for any sign that could lead
itto them, but they seemed to have vanished from the face of the earth. Several months later, we sat again in the courtroom. This time we were like two hostile tribes. My father and I sat on the right side in the room, my mother and my sister on the left, and the judge in between us. I hoped the judge was going to order my sister to be returned to my father and me, but the middle-aged man with grey hair had come up with thea different decision. He told us that because my sister was a girl, the best solution was for her should beto stay with my mother, and I, as a boy, should stay with my father. We returned home broken and angry. I think that on that day, my father smoked three packets of cigarettes, and still he could not find peace of mind. He felt like an idiot. A yokel had outwitted him, and he was powerless. In the coming months and years, my mother would take my father to court so many times to courtfor different reasons that his health woulddeteriorated, and which would leadled to two heart attacks, which almost killed him.
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