A quiet night’s sleep seemed to be all I needed to rest my battered emotions and forget a lifetime of physical and verbal abuse. The dawn of that next day in Colon felt like I was in a foreign country and as I opened my sleepy eyes I was met by the adoring glances of some little fans, small frye who had been ogling at their older brother for some time.
Sitting near the couch where I had been sleeping their large brown eyes had that expectant look waiting for a new playmate to come alive and open the conversation. Those little ones couldn’t wait to tell me all the stories of what was going on in the building that they knew as their part of their world in the City of Colon.
“Good morning!” I said with an air of mockery noticing that they were trying hard not to wake me up. I sat up to let them see that I was fully awake knowing that they had been warned not to disturb their older brother. For the rest of that day, however, those little ones would act like my bodyguards unable to move about freely without being followed by those “pelaos” who seemed to have been waiting for just such a visit since the last time I had visited with them.
The whole day would turn into a day of adoration for me their older brother as they dedicated their time to me like a fan club to carry the story of their older brother who was staying with them for good. As they made their flash appearances in the small apartment yet another neighborhood kid would follow them just to see for themselves if my presence was for real.
Although I had awakened in the mood of a warrior, refreshed and glad that it was the next morning, I decided to remain quiet and tried not to disturb the air of tranquility at the home that had welcomed me. Right then I was more interested in learning more about my stepfather and I hoped that I could speak to him before he left for work. Finally, he appeared in the room and we sat down to make small talk. I tried to bring up the issues that had brought me there wanting to explain what had happened between my aunts and me the night before but I noticed Bobby wasn’t interested, so the conversation turned to the things I would need to establish myself in school in Colon.
“What have you been doing with your life Juni?” said Bobby picking up one of my baby brothers. “Well, Sir,” I said nervously. “I’m about to enter my third year of studies in high school at the National Institute,” I finally said, “and I was working at learning the dental laboratory part as an apprentice making false teeth. I was trying to keep up my grades and keep busy getting into the world of the arts. I also joined the marching band of the Instituto Nacional hoping to learn to play some instrument.” That was my first and only opportunity, I realised, to really count the things I had been doing in Panama when my emotions began to overflow seeing how strange it felt to actually be at home discussing such things especially with another man.
Before I finished telling my stepfather how I felt he stood up gesturing that he was about to leave for his job. He then said, “Son, what do you really want to study?” Since he appeared to be in a hurry to leave, looking at his watch, I answered quickly, “I’d really like to be a lawyer, studying at the University of Panama, but the things that I’ve been doing were just things that I had an opportunity to learn.” “Hey Juni you can tell me later because now I really have to leave,” he said as he started to get up.
With those few words and in that instant of time it seemed that as men we had come to know and like each other instantly with Bobby expressing genuine interest in what I had been doing with my life. He was late, however. “Really Juni, you can tell me next time because I have to go!” With that, Bobby Grant, a true working Silver man, went out the door.
This story continues.