Promise You Won't hurt Me. - Chapter 5
You wouldn't break your promise, would you, Mammy?
I am running through the house in Malaysia. My mother is running after me. My heart is pounding and I am finding it hard to breathe. I run into a room and lock the door behind me.
My mother is hysterical. She is yelling and screaming at me and telling me to open the door. She is banging on the door and I feel the vibration of the door as I lean against it with my cheek pressed against the wood. I am terrified of her and I don’t want to open the door.
I am crying and I just want it all to stop. I want this to go away. Then what seems like an age of gut wrenching fear her voice lowers. She starts to talk in a sweet voice to me. I so want it to be true. I want so much to believe that she loves me and she is not angry any more.I want to believe that she has softened. But more than anything I want my mother to love me and not to hurt me again. She tells me in a soft caring voice that everything is ok and that I should let her in now. I ask her to promise me that she will not beat me. "Promise you won't hurt me Mammy.Please promise me Mammy, please promise me." She promises and I turn the key.
She storms into the room and I fall to the ground. She has a bamboo cane in her hand. She raises it over head again and again. She is breathless as she beats me. She beats me with that cane so badly that my legs and body have welts on them and I pass out with the pain. I wake up alone sobbing and I knows "I" can never trust again.
This incident at such an early age killed any trust that was left in me. My mother had lied to me even after promising me. She promised me she would not hurt me if I let her in. I let her in and she vented all her rage and anger on me in such a violent way that "I" never really got up off that floor. The welts she inflicted on my body are remembered by a little boy who remains frozen in time sobbing on that floor in disbelief at how the woman he saw as his mother could betray him like this. Being betrayed is something "I" becomes very familiar with.
"I" doesn't love you any more!
I have just arrived by train in Birmingham. I have travelled for hours from Ireland. First by boat and then by train and I am now waiting in the train station. I can’t see Ursula anywhere. I can’t understand why she isn’t here to meet me. I am so excited to meet her. I haven’t seen her in over three months. We have been together for seven years and this is the longest we have ever been apart.
She arrives with a friend and seems cold. Something is different but I put it to the back of my mind. I am in her room in the hospital where she is studying to become a nurse. I take out all the goodies I have brought over for her including O’Gormans sausages and Christmas cake from her Mum. The bag weighs a ton and I carried it all the way for her.
Something is wrong. She hasn't wanted to hold me the way she used to. She can't look me in the eye.I ask her what’s wrong and she says nothing is wrong. I know something is wrong. She finally tells me and it isn’t till much later that she finally looks at me and tells me. "I don't love you any more." I hear the words again and again like an echo that won't stop but I think they are words for someone else not the "I" that is sitting opposite the girl whp promised to love me forever. It gradually begins to sink in. She does not love me anymore. She has found someone else and she loves him. I can’t believe it. I am in shock. I want to leave immediately but I can't. I have to wait till morning to change my tickets. I get very drunk that night and I stay awake all night crying inside and in shock. I am lying beside her and I already miss her. I don't want her to feel sorry for me but I can't stop crying. I feel pathetic. The next morning she gets up and without saying anything she gets dressed and we leave the room together. She walks with me to the gate. We say goodbye. She goes to work and I get the bus to the train station and go home to Ireland. I am twenty one years oldand "I" has lost something. This wound will take decades to heal.
I dreamed about Ursula every night for ten years after that. I met her every night in my dreams and we loved each other. I had invested so much love in Ursula that if I could not have love during my waking day I would have it in the dream world I looked forward to visiting every night.
The dreams eventually became less frequent until one day three years ago when she came to me again in my dreams. We went for a walk and I was sad leaving her when in the dream she had to go. I learned soon after that she had died when her sister sent me a photograph album I had given Ursula nearly 30 years ago. When I gave her that album I told her that it contained the photos of everyone I held dear and I asked her to look after it as it symbolised my heart. She had asked her sister to make sure that I got this album.