‘Leave it. Let it be.’
She didn’t look at me, but her words fell to the floor in front of me. I wanted to touch them, hold them, make them feel better. She was my mammy. I couldn’t let her suffer alone. Every day it was the same. My father would come home in the evening and shout at her for no reason. But he always had a reason.
The food is cold.
You left a window open.
My shirts don’t smell fresh.
The sky isn’t blue enough.
Damn birds are chirping too loud.
It would always begin with a reason. His voice would rise steadily, then when he tired of shouting, he would use his hands. They were big and rough. One slap or punch could knock out a person’s senses. But my mother had a capacity for his beatings.
She would shield herself with her arms and hands, but they were too thin and small. It must have hurt more than she showed. There was nothing brave in holding in her screams. She should have cried and cursed, but she took it all in silence.
When it would end, my father would throw something, anything. It would smash and scatter across the floor and he would grunt and laugh.
Clean this up!
Show over, great performance, time for bed.
It had been a pickle jar this time. The oil and bits of mango lay defenseless on the floor. I was trying to clean up the mess, wipe away the shame that I felt.
‘Just leave it alone!’
She was biting back her tears, her angry voice eased out the pain.
‘Please go away.’
I couldn’t refuse her exhausted request. She didn’t have to say it again. There was too much brokenness for me to fix. I wandered back to my books. They said an education was the remedy for every difficulty.
I would study hard. It was more for her than for me.
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