At this time of the year, flowers have poisoned the air with their fragrances, competing in the atmosphere. Their beautifully disturbing brightly colored petals , had fallen off some of them. They were everywhere, on dresses, on the streets, even here, in the courtroom, soaked in a crystal vase with a note. White Roses. While I looked at them, I remembered the day my grandmothers white flower shaped porcelain vase broke. Its the reason we are in court now. Here is what happened.
Papa had just come from work and reeked of alcohol and smoke. It was bad enough that the flowers could not mask it up. He was the tallest man I knew and he wore the finest of clothes, a successful businessman. He evoked fear and respect to people around him, even around us. Mama and I feared him. Mama with her tightly wound headscarf, tattered apron and worried face did not confront him. Instead she asked gently of how his day went and he barked back at her, I felt my ribs shake. So normally, she retreated. We ate together, it had been a while we had done that. I was aware that my father had something else in his mind, he is the kind of man, who would not want to let anyone know of his feelings.
Then later on in the evening, I heard Mama whimper in the kitchen pantry. On my way to her, I saw Papa on the phone. He was not looking pleased. He mentioned something about killing somebody. In that moment, the flowers kept sending their scent to me. I had to leave that spot yet I needed to hear whom my dad wanted to kill. The flowers were ready to tell on me, my skin had some rash and it itched so badly. I felt my tongue fill up and blocking my airway and so I tried tiptoeing aback then the vase decided to fall and he saw me. He knew from my trembling feet that I heard him. Mama must have heard the vase break. “What did you hear?”, my father roared, his face had deformed and he looked like some monster from a recent animation I watched, don’t know which but it was scary. He took my shirt and held me up in the air, my feet dangled, shook, and I would have peed myself then. Mama ran into that debacle, she tried calmingPapa down. And I saw the face he puts on when he is about to beat us both. He dropped me to the floor, took a piece of the vase and sent it straight to the wall mirror. The shattering sounds were too much. I blocked my ears and closed my eyes.
When I heard the struggle was over, I opened my eyes and saw the mirror pieces on the floor. They were too sharp and reflected at Mama’s scarred face, severed by anger. The wind shook the trees outside our window and she could feel its breeze and smell the whiff of rain. “What have I done?”, she asked me? I had not seen a thing. Her hands shaking and feet anchored to the floor, she couldn’t move, “Wake up! Please, wake-“, she cried out to Papa. He lay there and then there was a knock on the door. My mother asked me to hide, so I hid behind the curtain. The moonlight shone on the mirror pieces and she was too shaken to think of what to do. Just then, a voice came out, “You need to go. Leave him there, call an ambulance and come let’s go!’. She snapped back to reality, her heart thumping so hard, it could leave the claws of her ribs.
Aunt Sara came in and took Mama’s hand. She saw her pain, she did that before, when nothing else could be done and violence was the only resort. She saw the broken bits of glass and Jake lying there as if dead. She heard me crying behind the curtains. He couldn’t be dead, she only smashed the mirror onto him and he never woke up, it had been 5 minutes. 5 long minutes that took away the heroic stance of self defense. 5 minutes that stripped her off fear. “We should go, the police would be here any minute”. We left the room, my Aunt Sara carried me and held Mama’s. Her eyes still pinned on Papa, “I really pray he’s alive”, letting out a silent whisper. I heard her too. I prayed too.
That night’s dreams were the worst I ever had. We slept at some place, in a room, just us two. Sweat bathed me wet and I heard the sound of the breaking mirror constantly. Playing like a soundtrack during my parents’ fight. I did not sleep, my eyes were wide open and my mind alert. I stared at the alarm clock and when it rang, so did my cell phone. Sara was at the end of the line, shaken voice, whispering tone, “Pack your bags and leave, don’t tell anyone where you are going. Just go, now”. I heard, we left.Taking everything we could carry, we fled the small town of Lobatse. Were I grew up, the only place I knew. We did not know where to go, who to go to, how to get there and what to use. Yet we left, running away from the possibility of death, of imprisonment, of torment from being abused by my father, the man she fell in love with 5 years ago.
This is what I should have told the court. But they could arrest Aunt Sara and Mama. I knew and when Moagi, her lawyer asked me what happened that day, I looked to the judge and jury and denied leaving my father half dead. Even when the flowers prompted me, I couldn’t.