© Lill A. Gubben
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THE DARKNESS IN MY FATHER’S HEART
Beset by a Female Psychologist-Cop
Early this morning, I was preparing my breakfast tea, an insistent knocking on the door made me drop my tea-cup on the floor. As before, I decided not to be at home. I expected nobody and wanted to be left alone.
Still, I wheeled into the hall and watched through the peephole and saw a woman, not a policeman. I opened to hear what she wanted and kept the security device on, just in case.
“Good morning.” She had a high-pitched, squeaky voice. “I want to talk to Nána Jao Agbontor. Is that you, sir?”
“What’s it about?”
She put an ID to the door gap. She was a Detective Inspector. My first impulse was to shut the door. I wanted none of this.
“Can you tell me your date and place of birth, please, just as a check.”
“Twenty-second of May 1997. Golokwati in Ghana.
“Thank you.” She smiled. “I am Mary-Elizabeth Churchyard. I’m here to learn about your father and Dr de Wite. We need a little more information.” She didn’t sound threatening or abusive. “It won’t take long, and it would be a great help.” Compliant, almost apologetic? Hmm.
“Do you want to come in? Is that what you’re here for?” I didn’t want them to think I was clever. I opened the door.
When she sat down in my sofa in front of me she put her legs apart, like a man, the same as women did in Africa. Was she a lesbian? Short hair, jeans, Ecco sandals and no makeup. If she met a rugby player in a narrow corridor, I bet she’d bump straight into him rather than swerve even half an inch to get out of his way. But she wasn’t butch, just a plain young woman. Her hair was black, short and curly. Not as curly as mine, but still. Could be easy to talk to.
“So you know with whom you’re dealing,” she said with a sparkling smile, “I’m also a trained psychologist. I work with sudden and unusual deaths. Here my job is to get a good picture of who they were, your father and Dr de Wite, to better understand why they died so dramatically, one after the other. You and I will chat about these two men and your life together, here and in Africa. What do you think?” She pulled out a bunch of papers from her brown briefcase.
“Do I have to?”
“Yes.” She smiled again. “I’m sorry.”
“Okay, I understand.” What else was there to say? I can talk even if it may sound strange when you’re not used how I sound. “I haven’t had my breakfast tea yet. Do you mind if I serve myself?”
“Not at all, please go ahead.” Her smile looked enforced.
“Would you like to join me?”
“A nice cup of tea would be nice. Do you want me to help you?”
“I manage. I’m not crippled, even if I sit in a wheelchair.”
“Of course.” Smile, smile, smile. Too much smile. Why was she trying to charm me? Or what?
I rolled into the kitchen. When I had got a tray, cups, sugar, milk and the kettle to the table, she tried to be helpful. I know my arms may shake a little, but the tray was there to protect the table from anything lost or spilled out. I didn’t need her help, but let her do what she wanted.
“So, the sixty-year-old business man from Europe,” she said and put aside her bunch of papers, “made friends with your teenage father in Africa? Is that correct?”
“Just one lump, please.” Her smile stiffened.
To use the silver sugar tong was quite a task, but I managed. She followed my battle with the imperfect neural impulses to my fingers.
“They met when Daddy was young, yes. He had no family, and nowhere to live, so I guess the Bee felt compassion for him and took him to his heart.”
“Yes, that’s what we called my godfather, the Bee.”
“How do you see the relation between your young father and… this old man?”
“Their relation? Not much to say. It was ordinary; a very good, friendly relation between both of them. That’s what I think.” Too many words. She may have seen me as nervous. I wasn’t.
“The difference in ages is staggering, isn’t it?
“In England, maybe. Not in Africa. My own grandfather was older than the Bee, and he fathered two small children, with a young wife. In Africa, we see this as perfectly normal, not like you in England, where you would call my honourable grandfather a dirty old man. Not very civilized by people in a civilized country, is it?”
“I hear you know they had an intimate relation.”
“Yes, friendly, very friendly.”
I think I begin to learn from her different smiles what she thinks. Now her smile is askew and she thinks she caught me there. She can think whatever she wants.
“One had no schooling at all, and the other was a doctor of economics. How could one explain they came to form a lifelong relationship?”
“They were both football fanatics; at least that’s how they met.”
“And based a lifelong relationship on that?” No, of course not. I was the reason they maintained their strained relation, but I didn’t want to tell her. I tried something else for her.
“There’s maybe one thing that could have been important for my father. He was torn between his admiration for the whites and his wish to be able to be proud of his backward Africa. Daddy praised the whites for their knowledge and competence. In Africa nothing worked properly, people were greedy and selfish, and didn’t have the ability to do anything well or to understand how things worked. But the Bee liked to be in Africa. My dad called him Euro-African, and hence the Bee helped to iron out this dilemma for my father, at least a bit. That’s what I think, anyway.”
“I’m impressed!” she said. She was more likable than I thought when she arrived. “You seem to have understood your father very well.” She smiled and nodded as if confirming. Then she looked serious. “Did you like your father?”
“When I was a kid, he was like a god. He and the Bee. Daddy was my hero.”
Did she think this was a smart question? “I don’t know what to say.”
We were both silent. She looked at me.
“Later I was not a child anymore.”
I don’t know why I said this. I don’t need her to understand anything? I have to be alert. She’s got nothing to offer.
And so, we talked. That is, she talked. She asked polite questions about Africa and our life there, my handicap and about this home. She commented, she laughed, she smiled, she looked concerned, and she frowned. She performed a whole show. No interrogation. She sat down with an original, hundred percent African black male and chatted with me as if I were a white, upper middle-class school-friend, whom she hadn’t seen for many years, and now had invited to have afternoon tea in her backyard before sunset. Was this psychology?
I guess I was supposed to be confused, maybe flattered. See her as a friend and look at her with confidence. She annoyed me and I could feel the suffocating whiff or her menstruation. I coughed and looked away. She embarrassed me.
“I wonder about your own relation to Kurtz de Wite. Would you say you had a close relation with him?”
“Yes, very close.”
“Do you know if Dr de Wite had children of his own?”
“No. I was his only child.”
“Yes, he wanted me to see him as his father.”
“Would you say you had two fathers?”
“Were you closer to him or to your real father?”
“Both were real. I was close to both. But in different ways.”
“Can you explain?”
“The Bee loved me more.”
“In what way?”
“With more respect, more interest.”
“Explain, if you can.”
“I can tell you about a little detail. When we went out walking, which I learned after I was two, my dad would grab me by my wrist, just as he would grab anything to hold. The Bee would hold forth his hand and let me grab or hold a couple of his fingers if I wanted. He always claimed that any contact between me and any other person should be decided by what I wanted, not the other person.”
“A considerate man, who didn’t want others to come close to you?”
I was not sure if she had seen my point, or was stuck in her own prejudice.
“He loved me.” I drew a deep sight. “He had loved me since the day of my birth.” I eyeballed her. “I was the joy and pain of his life, he said.”
That made her silent. Again, she looked for rescue in her papers
She didn’t seem to notice, that I noticed she made a swift glance at my thighs, or thereabout. I’m a rather well build boy, in spite of neural complications. The Physio treatments I’ve been subjected to over the years have made me strong and well formed in certain parts. She was not a lesbian, for sure. She found me attractive. Just a little too much sparkle in those young eyes for a serious Criminal whatever she was.
“I’ll be back in two or three days, take care,” she squeaked when she left.
That was that. Easy. I have to be careful; no complacency. She fancied me all right. This could be an asset.
When she had left, I checked on Google and Linkedin. She was a twenty-eight-year-old PhD, recently employed by the Home Office for special duties. ‘Description and Analysis of Background, Personality and Motives in Homicide Offenders who do not Confess’ was the title of her doctoral dissertation. She didn’t tell me this!
My Lord, you whom I praise and to whom I dedicate my life, let this cup pass from me and I will remain your loyal and humble little boy and sing your praise as I have always done.
Extract from Dr Churchyard’s Personal Diary
First short visit to Nána Jao Agbontor this morning, twenty-year-old man living in UK for the last ten years, born in Ghana, suffers from mild form of Cerebral Palsy. Wheelchair bound, can walk single steps with help of sticks or other support, mildly spastic in both arms. Talks with only minor problem, good vocabulary and a fairly good understanding of people and relationships, which he may use for manipulation.
Lives alone in Griffith Park, 56 Eversom Crescent, 17th floor, came here with his father, 39 years old (dead 25 Dec, pushed or falling out of window, assumed victim) with special arrangement with the City Council to be carer for Dr Kurtz de Wite of Anglo-Belgian descent with dual citizenship, 83 years old (died of suffocation, possibly in his sleep, 30 Dec, possible victim, also a suspect).
He refrains from admitting the men had a sexual relation, so there were no sexual relation in his little family. This makes sense in an overall strategy: no sex in the family, no sexual abuse as a child, hence no cause for lethal vengeance.
Rigid defence structure, probably brittle, massive denial and reaction formation. Refers to God as Almighty in his argumentation; may suggest a power and authority complex? Could manifest itself as both submission and revolution, even a bloody one.
Innocent? I can only see this as unlikely. Abused as a kid? Most probably, his defence of that old man is too rigid, I’ve heard the phrase ‘take to his heart’ too much to be able to believe in it.
No apparent personality disorder, psychopathy cannot be excluded, gives impression of having lived isolated with the two men. Nothing said could suggest a motive.
Maybe a quite disturbed young man. Should I send him to David for Rorschach testing? Have to be careful not to lose him. Try to unlock him with a more human touch. Will push more on relational issues. Not a word said yet about his mother.
But if he cracks, we could have (1) a confession of two murders, (2) a detailed account of sexual abuse and (3) trafficking. In a single investigation, not bad. If I manage to lead him back to reality, we may get a necessary confession, our evidences are not strong.
Whatever, one thing is certain, which de Wite noticed, as we know, he’s a damn attractive young piece of male specimen, as my gay colleague would say, very good-looking in plain English, and a captivating charm. Will return in a couple of days.
Me and my two Fathers
Not until both of them had died, did I find out that Daddy and my godfather had been lovers when we still lived together in Africa and even before my birth. I’m glad I didn’t know. They might have been condemned to death, at least to a long prison sentence that would have kept me out of touch with them for years. Without the protection and support that the old white man supplied, who was my godfather, I doubt I would have managed.
I’m only a simple boy from Africa, but I know of much worse deeds committed in my native land. I will not be a judge, I leave to our Lord Almighty on the Day of Wrath to put benevolence, of which He is so rich, in one scale of His Justice and in the other righteous vengeance - so be it.
Mr McOrbin at Barclays in Reading called a week after my godfather’s death. ‘Your own account will be open, no doubt about that. However, it may take time before we know how much Dr de Wite left. There are non-negligible funds to look into, also abroad.’ That sounded reassuring. Daddy and I had always depended on my godfather’s generous aid and to be without his helping hand, now that he was dead, would be difficult.
Waiting for their burials, which may take place only after permission from the Police, I go through all the files on my godfather’s Mac and my dad’s PC: e-mails, pictures, videos, and all their chats and messages since before my birth until only two weeks ago.
I’m curious to see if there’s anything more to discover about them and our lives together. ‘In Africa we’re not curious,’ Daddy would have said. ‘We take things as we see them. And there is nothing to wonder about.’ And then he would add one of his many proverbs: ‘When you put a goat with the cows, it will behave like a cow’. He claimed my godfather had turned me into a too curious European boy even if I was as dark-skinned as he and my mum.
Daddy was a young teenager when he met my godfather who had just retired after being in charge of the Economy Department in a Belgian international shipping company. His name was Kurt de Wite and he was a doctor of economic science and people called him ‘Sir’. King Albert of Belgium had honoured him with a Gold Medal of the Order of the Crown, which my godfather was very proud of. The medal was for his promotion of national industry and for his philanthropic work in Africa.
In spite of being such a prominent man, my godfather was caring and generous. Daddy called him his Bee, and in the little family we referred to him as the Bee. I never asked why. The Bee was the Bee and had always been the Bee in our lives.
When they met, my dad had no education, no training, no job, no family and no home. In Site Twenty in Community One, which was the most run-down areas in town, Daddy had a young friend. He let Daddy sleep with other homeless boys on a thin mattress on the floor in a small, dark and dirty room without window. Sometimes a young girl, the half-sister of the friend, shared their ‘nocturnal retreat.’ This girl was later to become my mum.
The Bee soon provided Daddy with a home of his own, two small rooms in Community Four. They were on the bottom floor, and each room had a window looking out to a narrow alley. There was no kitchen but a toilet and shower room. In this little home, the Bee’s generous gift to my dad, I was later conceived. That was after the Bee went back to Europe for two years and my mum moved in.
The Bee, whom our Lord had sent to take care of me when I was still a baby, later acted as my only teacher and ten years ago brought Daddy and me to the Civilised World, where I live now, in England.
“It will never be easy for you to talk the way other people do,” my godfather said and quoted an influential book which claimed ‘*the ability to talk, this bewildering and illuminating gift of expression, was the safest boat to travel on during one’s voyage up the dark river to life success.’* “So, if you will never be able talk as normal people do, we shall prepare you to master a language in writing.”
I know my literal performance, if I may be so pretentious, pleased my godfather because he loved me with all his heart and praised me for everything I tried to carry out. He even praised me when I failed, which I often did because of the brain injury fate allotted me the day after my birth.
My father’s parents came from a small village in West Africa. For reasons I don’t find recorded anywhere, my grandparents split up for good when my grandfather moved to other African countries working for the Church.
He left my grandmother alone with four children, of which Daddy was the last-born and not yet three years old. “I can’t afford to care for all of you. I am alone, a weak and feeble woman who needs to have a man to care for me.”
“Yes, mum, we understand,” my father’s siblings said in chorus, since they were well aware of their sparse resources.
“It is impossible for me to keep my last-born child. He needs an angel’s care, which I cannot provide.”
She dumped my daddy with an elderly couple in the village and decided to move down to the Big City with her other kids, to try her fortune there.
On the day of departure my father’s siblings dressed in their European clothes to look the best arriving in the Capital. They hoped that they would all be well received. And people in the village gathered round the bus to wave them off and wish them happy journey and a successful life down in the Capital of their State.
Before my grandmother got on the bus that would take her away, she gave her last-born child a handful of small change, but not a kiss. She patted on his head and hurried up into the bus.
When the bus slowly rolled away on the pitiful road, her weeping child run after it. He threw the money at the bus and screamed ‘mummy, mummy, I don’t want your money.’ When the bus was out of sight, the little boy who was my daddy ran away to shelter in some place where nobody could see him cry.
‘Half orphan’ Daddy called himself and recalled those early years with resentment. He never forgave his mother. The Bee said we could understand my dad’s jealousy and strange behaviour, if we recognised the pain and hatred he harboured from when he was a child.
That was about the Bee and about Daddy and his family.
The Tongue has the Power of Life and Death
“I’m with child.”
“Yes, I am.”
“Why tell *me*?”
“It’s your fault, it is.”
“No, it isn’t. I take care of *me*. You take care of yourself, or don’t you?”
“Don’t blame *me*. I told you to stop, but you didn’t, did you?”
“Stop? Where you get such bloody nonsense from? You don’t ask a man to stop, just like that. At that moment, I can tell you, since you don’t seem to know or understand, at such a moment, a man is abandoned to the mercy of powers stronger than any living male can master.”
“Oh, is he? Blame those fucking powers then, and don’t blame me. I am not happy at all. You have to marry me now; that’s for sure.”
“Marry? I can’t marry. I don’t want to marry. Why should I marry? Never in my life.”
After my mum told him, Daddy became ill – fever and constipation, as usual. He refused to believe until he saw on her tummy. Then he claimed the child wasn’t his.
My mum’s reaction was more positive, at least according to what Daddy or the Bee have recorded. She knew my daddy had no income, which was bad. On the other hand, he lived on aid from Dr Kurt de Wite in Europe, which was good. That man had even given him this little home with two rooms, each with a window, and a cosy shower room with a toilet.
The two young parents to be, sixteen and nineteen, contacted their families for advice about the pregnancy. My mum had an influential granny and my dad consulted my grandfather, returned from his work abroad. Also, an older brother who ran a typical African business down in the harbour, selling colourful Chinese plastic pegs, was deemed to have a voice.
A small congregation of the fifteen closest in the families gathered at the granny’s home in an area of ill repute. It was in the most run-down part of Community One, close to the harbour and inhabited mainly by riffraff.
There she commanded her large family, three surviving daughters and over ten grandchildren, with the full authority of a Caesar at the height of his power. She wore a dress in the colourful cloth of the local tradition and a huge matching headgear in green, red, blue, yellow and purple. Her body shape was typical of women in our country, a wide behind and thighs and bosom that matched. Her gait was dignified and slow, she swung like a ship, and tall as a talipot she looked down upon the world.
The meeting took place on the porch outside the Granny’s hovel, where kids were running around, screaming and shouting the way kids do, and young women were washing clothes in large, colourful plastic bowls and hanging up rinsed clothes to dry.
My grandfather began, as expected, since he was the most senior man at the meeting. “Faithful to our Father in Heaven,” he said and put his hands together in prayer, “without whose guidance we would run astray on this earth, we have agreed to meet and give advice to the bewildered and indecisive youngsters, always keeping in mind we should pray for guidance from our Almighty Father. Amen.”
“With all due respect,” the Granny responded. “We, in our family, see this calamity, which has befallen my beloved granddaughter, as the result of a foolishness committed by the young man, who has neglected the realities of life. I see that the young man - or his family - will have to compensate us in some form.”
My daddy’s older brother who saw himself as an independent and successful business man, would not let a woman, no matter of what status and stature, take the initiative during their meeting. “We think the couple are far too *young*.” He spoke slowly and stressed the last word as Mandela did. “And they’re not mature *enough*, to take care of a *child*. And if there is no *child*, I see no need for *compensation*.”
“That is a solution my family cannot consider,” the granny said. She elevated her huge body and standing steadily on her two feet with her legs wide apart, she spoke as if in front of a whole assembly. “One of my cousin’s daughters sought such a solution. Her destiny was the same as that of the unborn creature which should have been her offspring.”
My uncle attempted to vent an opposing opinion. “With modern *medicine*, and the most well educated *doctors*, who have had their training in *Europe*, this may be effectuated both *efficiently*, and with rational methods that are totally *safe*.”
“I have already stated.” Her majestic voice resounded over the hovels and the rubbish heaps around her. “We will not endorse such a solution.”
“Anything may be discussed,” interrupted my grandfather, who didn’t accept first a woman and now his own son to override him. He demanded due respect for a man of his age, and that they should decide nothing without his approval. “It is not the will of our Lord that we kill an unborn child. So, I agree in that respect. However, since the resources of both our families are scarce, it is not human to bring to life a creature we cannot nurture. I do not listen to gossip, I am not that kind of person, still it would be impure to disregard that tongues in our community whisper that one cannot be sure who is the real father of this child.”
“Oh shame, I will not listen,” the granny shouted. “How dare you make such godforsaken accusations, old man.”
“It’s not uncommon,” my grandfather said, “that a dishonourable girl shares an innocent young man to make the poor young man or his family support her. Maybe even makes herself with child on purpose. I make no claims, I only want to clarify that things may never be as simple as they seem…”
“Well I assure you and all assembled here, that this was not the case, and it has never been the case in our family. We are from a stock of honourable people, not riffraff who do not know their fathers.”
The sign of an open conflict did not appeal to my dad. He stood up, turned around and threw up. He hurried towards the toilet, but didn’t reach the door before he threw up once more.
Later, Daddy vehemently denied this had happened. But when my mother later told a friend about this shameful event, as she called it, my daddy hit her so hard on the mouth, that she lost one of her front teeth. When I asked my dad if this was true, he warned me not to talk about this malicious slander ever again. It was just a way for my mum to hit back at him for something he had never done, so help him God, or something like that.
“With full respect.” The granny lifted her clenched fist, “I conclude we have now decided this pregnancy will have its natural course”. Nobody objected; they submitted to the irrefutable fact she got more balls than them, and by this decision part of my future was clarified: they would let me be born, by the grace of Granny.
“To provide a child with food and clothes is not accomplished without considerable effort and sacrifices,” the Granny stated. “The boy is a work-shy freeloader, who lived in our home and let himself be fed and then took advantage of my young, innocent granddaughter. He or his family should contribute to the cost of the child.”
None in Daddy’s family responded to her challenge. My grandfather lived in the countryside, where he cultivated plantain, on a very small scale. What he earned from this, if all went well, which it seldom did, was enough to feed himself and his new young wife and their two small children. He had no money for an unwanted grandchild. My uncle had got his eyes on a car he wanted to buy. And he had three children of his own to feed, two with his wife and one with a girl in the neighbourhood. Many colourful Chinese pegs had to be sold to support them all. Now, there was another girl, who seemed to be pregnant, well, that is how it was. He had no money for anybody else’s child, even if it was his own little brother.
“I will have enough to maintain this child” my daddy grunted. “I have managed to acquire international contacts.” A sudden silence settled upon the porch. The young women stopped washing and looked at him. Even the romping children were quite for a minute or two.
“International contacts?” Granny looked sceptical.
“It’s a white man who’s bought him a home in Community Four,” my mother exclaimed and looked glad.
“A man? What kind of man would buy this… this… well, boy a home?” Granny said with a dismissive wave of her hand.
“He’s a philanthropist,” my daddy said, “honoured by the King.”
“A phila what?”
“Philanthropist, a friend of man, it means,” my dad explained.
“A friend of men, who buys the boy a home?”
Silence settled upon the squalid porch. Was there a serious accusation in the granny’s voice?
“A friend of men, who buys the boy a home?” Granny repeated after the silence had made its ominous effect on the congregation. “I do not like the sound of this. Where is this man?”
“He’s in Europe now, he lived here before when I made friend with him.” My daddy knew his Africa: white men were seen as treasures and should be treated well and what had no name did not exist.
“Why should he pay for the subsistence and care of a foreign baby?”
“He’s very happy about the baby. He’s asked to be godfather and will come here to meet the child.”
“Godfather, I never heard of this before, what’s that?”
“It means he will protect the child from anything that’s bad.”
They were silent. Nobody seemed to be sure what to think, and even less to say.
“When the child is born,” Granny said, “I think it will be better for mother and child to stay with my daughters Josephine and Philomena in Ashaiman, where the child will be protected well enough.”
Not everybody nodded with acclaim. A white man was a treasure, and should be treated with respect. But there was something in this matter one could feel unease about. So better to keep quiet.
Daddy’s intervention reminded the granny of a central issue.
“It is not customary in our family that children are born out of wedlock.” Everybody knew this was not true, but the words had to be said. In Africa the words, not the facts, created the reality to consider. “But since the father of the child has no income at present, we will celebrate marriage when his luck may have turned.”
The granny ordered forth a Bible so that Daddy could swear to marry my mum.
“It is contrary to my deep and sincere Christian conviction,” my daddy said with a trembling voice, “to use the Holy Scripture for matters of the world. Jesus Christ himself says in Matthew 5:33 to 37: I say to you, ‘Do not take an oath at all.’” Daddy banged his right fist on his chest, above his heart. He was always prepared with a proverb or a citation from the Holy Script and never erred when giving the correct reference to a citation.
If there was something else, my dad did well in all his life, it was to evade duty and responsibility. He knew these words, and could use them correctly, when it suited him. He never understood their essential meaning. But you needn’t understand the phenomenon of electrical resistance in a burning hot iron to keep your fingers away from it.
“Instead, I can promise on my honour,” he proclaimed in loud and fairly steady voice. Muted laughter was heard. Nobody believed in his honour, neither did he, unless in moments like this, when the word honour could be used to prevent what he saw as a great calamity. The meaning of words was flexible, which made them useful tools when creating a suitable reality for others to believe in.
“I promise on my honour that I will marry Granny’s granddaughter Gifty, as soon as circumstances so permit.” At least he put his right hand over his heart and pronounced the words loud and clearly. From what can be inferred from comments about this meeting, my mum was pleased to have saved a better future for herself.
And so, the meeting was dispersed, with nothing much decided more than about my birth and that I would live with Granny and her daughters after I was born. To vent one’s opinion and establish the reality of salient matters with one’s own words was more important at a family meeting than conclusions and decisions.
An Unwanted and Discarded Baby
The day after birth, the baby’s head enlarged, his face turned bluish and he couldn’t keep his food. His mother rushed him to the stately run General Hospital. He suffered from hydrocephalus: water occupied space in his head, which his brain would have needed to develop in a normal way.
Six months later the baby’s legs made spastic movements. The Cherub’s little brain was scanned in a huge, devilish machine from Europe, after they inserted sharp needles in his teeny tiny little baby hand. Confronted with all this, my dad went ill and fainted. When all tests were accomplished, a doctor solemnly declared their darling boy’s brain had ‘bilateral temporo-parietal cerebral atrophic changes, secondary to early neonatal cerebral insult.’ My injured brain would make me ‘slow and dull’ and in need of ‘a lot of help with everything’. I suffered from Cerebral Palsy. The Bee was crying, all alone in England, my mum was crying too, and my dad, who said he never cried in all his life, was shaking. I was shaking too but for other reasons.
’I’m sure someone cast a spell on me,’ my mum said. ‘Now we see he managed, don’t we, someone evil, who wanted to harm me.’ With disdain my mum dismissed the impious talk about brain injury. ‘He has no brain injury, he hasn’t. In the hospital they don’t know the power of a curse, do they? I was always so careful, I was. Every time I fed him, I covered my breast with a shawl so nobody could have cast a spell on my breast, nobody could. The truth! I protected him so much, I did. I have done nothing wrong, I am sure. Honestly! It’s unbelievable how this could happen, it is. So, I don’t know.’
Where we lived, you rarely saw persons who were not ‘normal’, like beggars without legs, deformed cripples or simple idiots who really looked like maroons. The general meaning was that you had to get rid of such creatures as children, or at least hide them away.
If a family was truly Christian and charitable with the Grace of God, the child was locked up in a room in their family home. But this was only if the family could afford to feed and keep a creature who would never contribute to its own livelihood.
These unwanted children were found on stones in graveyards, put there to be closer to Our Lord Almighty. Others had been tucked away among waste bins behind some huge building. Most often parents disposed them in an institution. My mum hid her little baby from the world as well as she could. I was never taken out of my small room. My daddy was the sole visitor, and he came on only short visits to take videos of me to send to the Bee in Europe.
It was a catastrophe for Granny and her daughters when they realised I was not ‘normal’, a disgrace for the whole family. They encouraged my mum to leave me in one of those institutions where they kept unwanted cripples and misfits like myself. This would be the best for both me and my mum.
In such a place, I would have been trapped in a cot behind bars, in a hall overfilled with demented, deformed and spastic children like myself. Undercover video films, which I have seen many times on my dad’s PC, showed poorly paid people with no training, who were merciless and capricious towards defenceless little children. Nobody supervised them and when possible they could make a profit steeling from the children. They sold food or clothes or toys donated by charitable white persons whose hearts were bleeding for the tens of thousands of miserable little children abandoned by their families.
Some of the children could not talk but screamed night and day. Others hurt themselves for hours until some merciful soul tied their hands and feet to the bars in their beds. My future if I would have been sent to such a place? Alone and abandoned I would get bedsores on my body that would lead to gangrene and amputation of my legs. Nobody would care. What would it matter? I wasn’t able to walk, anyway. I would learn to see nothing, hear nothing and feel nothing, just swallow what they put into my mouth, and have others take care of it at the other end.
Year after year would follow until a final and releasing end. The same for me as for thousands of other misfits, cripples and invalids stored in camps where death was the sole remedy.
If you were a baby like me, you were not welcome to life and to live among your brethren in the part of the world where I was born. Dark hearts made a horror of life for all of us and nobody cared or said a word, except an occasional excuse if the horror of our lives were ever mentioned.
Both families I was born into had a clear view: for my mum to be able to live a decent life and blossom as a young woman, I had to be put away to rot.