The crash of pots and pans, followed by the screaming and shouting woke me and alerted me to the heated argument taking place in the kitchen.
The year must have been 1973 or thereabouts. I was only four or five years old, but lately, this memory has been haunting my dreams and tormenting me whenever I try to quiet my mind.
I remember going to the kitchen door and listening for a moment before I plucked up the courage to look inside. The scene that greeted me was a full-on row. My mother was brandishing a large kitchen knife and a furious expression. She was screaming something about what my father had, or hadn’t been doing.
My father, was on the opposite side of the small kitchen trying to defend himself with a kitchen chair. He held the chair out in front of him; the chair legs pointed towards my mother. His apparent attempts to diffuse the situation seemed to have failed miserably, and now, faced with his hate-filled wife brandishing a large knife, he was fighting for his life.
The five-year-old boy, me, began to cry. I remember feeling terrified by my mother; I’d never seen her like this. The sounds though were all too familiar. My mother’s shouted accusations, my father’s futile attempts to appease her fury.
As a child, I would wake from a deep sleep to the sounds of domestic discord. My father would arrive home after a night out. My mother would realise that something about him was, off. They would be arguing about why he was so late home and why he smelled of perfume.
I remember these episodes as if they were a distant dream. But, when I give these memories time to develop, I can begin to put together a picture of what my life was like as a small boy.
My parents were always fighting. How my sister and I ever came into existence is a fucking mystery to me. How could two people that were so incompatible, ever have got together?
I’m not sure if my father became a philanderer because of the problems he was having with my mother, or maybe it was the other way around? Was my mother too difficult to live with, so much so, that it made my father look for comfort in the arms of other women?
Mum always blamed my Dad. My Dad has never told me the truth about what happened between them and why my mother left him one warm summer’s day.
They must have loved each other once upon a time, and I like to think that I was born out of that love. But now, my mother is ill again, and the prognosis isn’t a good one. My father has become an overweight, bald man with crap tattoos and, stupidly for someone as old as he is, covered in piercings.
He has isolated himself from myself and my sister. To be honest with you, I don’t think that is a bad thing. I believe that he might be suffering from Munchausen’s syndrome, given his propensity for creating mysterious illnesses for himself. The last time I saw him was 1990. I have spoken to him once or twice since then. Those conversations were more than a little weird.
My sister hates him and has no time for him, at all.
And the knife fight? When my mother saw me standing there in my pyjamas, gripping my favourite teddy and crying my eyes out, she stopped, dropped the knife into the kitchen sink and took me back into the living room. I don’t remember much more about that episode, all that I do know is that I will never be like either of my parents.
Until next time,