The whole thing was outrageous to me. I hadn’t lived with my mother more than a couple of months in Colon when she worked up the nerve to be scolding me for spotting her in one of her questionable moves. Silently I kept recurring back to the day she abandoned us as small children, to leave us with her sisters-in-law whom she hated and who hated her right back.
Something was happening at the time to make her go off the deep end, or maybe it was my dependence on her as a child that would trigger her rages. But if memory served me, there was also the time when she had fought the neighbor lady and drew blood. These memories of my mother’s crimes were serious reminders that such behavior merited some kind of punishment or incarceration, or some kind of detention or planned medical treatment at the very least.
As I suspected, however, no one but me had seen the inside of my mother and that she was really a disaster waiting to happen again and again. Such frightful notions perturbed me continually as I realized how dificult it was for me to find my rightful place in the scheme of things in a Panama which was confusing. I hoped for the moment to be able to tell her that I had forgiven her, especially of how she had abandoned us as small defenseless children. The accumulation of these things made me realize how it had all caused us a lifetime of emotional trauma plaguing us throughout our short lived generation.
My dilemma was that I continued to live those moments of tragedy and I felt that we in many ways had been cheated. There were so many other horrors and precisely when in my rare moments when I’d be basking in good feelings, my mother never failed to interrupt my bliss. She never failed to plunge me rapidly into depression and lonelines. I would often find some way of getting out of the house and roaming La Playita, the deserted beach nearby. By then, the more judicious side of me prevailed and I decided to visit the campus of Abel Bravo College, hoping to find someone there who could advice me as to what to do to enroll for the upcoming school year.
When I finally got there I found the Director’s office. A teacher immediately asked me, “What can I help you with young man?” Those words served to wake me up from my litany of thoughts. On my way there I had thoughtfully addressed this strange new environment since at this secondary school I would be spending some of the best years of my youth. My tongue showed signs of life and I replied, “Miss, I need to know what I have to do to enroll in this year’s third year class.” She patiently waited for me to finish, as I finished saying, “I am coming from the National Institute.” “Well ,young man, you would need to return to the Institute in Panama, and request a copy of your credits. When you bring us the document with all those credits, we can enroll you,” she replied immediately.
Politely and gratefully I said, “Thanks Miss!” Determined not to waste any time I got right down to the train station to take the next train to Panama. Once I boarded that Panama Railroad and took my seat I waited for the train to begin its journey. Suddenly, I remembered how I hadn’t eaten anything all day and also hadn’t visited any of my relatives nor seen my maternal grandmother- my Nani- the one I loved so dearly since I was a small child. Now, I was betwixt and between the National Institute and that Colon College and I still harbored feelings of belonging to the Institute in Panama.
This story continues.