It was the diary that started it all. The day I found it a thick fume of anger had clouded my heart. And I knew without doubt that my mother had intended for someone to find it. For someone to know the truth of what happened to her — correction — the truth of what they did to her.
She was poor; born to nothing and she died with nothing. In her diary she states that the richest thing she’s ever had was me. Me who spent the past 15 years of my life loathing her. For bringing me into a world that was not designed for people like me, the orphans and the poor.
And so when I held that cobweb-covered diary in my hands, frantically trying to put the fragile, ripping pages together and squinting in an attempt to cohere the faint penmanship, I cried. I cried that whole week honestly.
I cried for my mother and how life dealt her the worst cards. I cried for the life she should have gotten. I cried with anger because it only took one man to collapse her world beneath her. But mostly I cried with guilt because of how I spent my whole life hating a woman who loved me before she even grazed my skin.
That part I could only admit to the silent part of my heart. Because the loud part was raging a war that drove me insane — correction — drives me insane. I began planning — plotting really. Doing my research on where the triplets went, what they do, everyone they’ve ever dated and even down to the sports they played in elementary school and what year their great-great grandparents immigrated to America. But my biggest question was: which one killed my Mother?
Finding out which one was my father didn’t even matter anymore. I’ve always wondered about my father — who he was, if he knew I existed or if he would love me like the way every father loves their daughter. At least from what I’ve observed at every father-daughter dance Nana forced me to go to, although I was the only girl without a father.
Finding out the identity of my father was no longer important to me because he could possibly be the one who killed my Mother. And I am my mother’s daughter. I was born to nothing, and as I’ve been told my whole life, I will die with nothing. But if I die knowing my Mother’s murderer is cold in the grave, at least I have died for something.
Nana died the summer I turned 17. I buried her under the willow tree, the one outside our trailer park that she loved to “look” at while seated in her rocking chair. She was deaf, crippled and sickly but not once did I ever question her love for me. I suppose she’s the only parent I’ve ever had. She had my mother young, after facing an attack that also left her crippled and deaf. But to my understanding Nana was born ‘simple-minded,’ according to the town doctor who is the only man Nana trusted.
Society loves to say that girls are meaner than boys but the truth is, they overlook the capacity that boys have to dehumanize someone to justify their cruelty. The boys in my town threw rocks at me every time I walked past, called me “simple” even after I won the spelling bee and was at the top of my class. But I’ll never forget the day they chased me home, held me down, cut off my locks and attempted to peel my skin with a rusty potato peeler, to see if Nana was actually deaf. As she was only a few feet away from us while I screamed my lungs out…Nana didn’t flinch from her sleep. We were only 10 yet they were capable of such cruelty.
So now I hope you understand that my distrust in men stems from generational trauma. The only two women I know in my life have been hurt by men and not one boy in all my years of schooling has shown me an ounce of kindness.
For a short period of my life, I used to dream of going to college. Getting a normal job, marrying a normal man and living a normal life. But then rather rudely, life hit me with reality. I will never have normal, not even at my fingertips. Not when every waking second; like autopilot, my mind drifts to my mother and the triplets. Not when I can’t even find peace in my sleep as they find a way to haunt me even then.
At times I wonder if this obsession has turned me into a psychopath. If I’m just as bad as those town boys whose peeler marks I still have on my arms. I have this weight on me that has my stomach all twisted up. And I know it’ll never leave until I find my mother’s murderer.
My dearest Adele, I was 17 and had nothing to lose. And so before Nana even turned cold in the ground, I ran. With the diary, my important documents and my thirst for revenge to keep me warm.
I had a lead, a goal and plans. None of them were supposed to lead to you, but in the words of my mother, “You are the richest thing, I’ve ever had.”
She finally closes her diary and puts her pen down.
TO BE CONTINUED…
Perpetual Kahindo is a third-year Political Science major. PK973548@wcupa.edu