Hate is a learned experience; we are not born with it. Injustice that can’t be answered creates helplessness. Helplessness repeated generates hate.
I was 7-years-old at the time but I clearly remember my baby brother’s birthday. Mother had gone to the hospital and I was left with my father and two brothers, Nigg six-years- old and Hans five. I wondered if maybe they would let me stay with grandpa when they brought Siegfried home. I knew grandpa was so lonely. He sat mostly in his study and I always had to ask my parents if I could visit him. My mother yelled and argued with him all day long. Grandpa didn’t like my father and told mother she would be better of without him. Everything changed after Lella died.
One Saturday night I heard grandpa come back from the Gasthaus. He went straight to the kitchen. Since Lella died he had to ask my parents if he could use the kitchen. I didn’t understand why since it was his kitchen and his house. First, I heard my father fighting with grandpa in the hallway and then something fell. I jumped out of bed. Grandpa was lying on the floor. Paralyzed I watched my father beating and kicking him. Grandpa cried and yelled at the same time:
“This is my house, you will leave tomorrow or I will call the police.”
I didn’t know how to help grandpa. I wished the police would come and take my father away forever. The next morning, very early, I went up to grandpa’s room to see him but he didn’t answer my knock.
A few days later grandpa came with some people and picked up his bed and other furniture. Since I wasn’t allowed to speak to him I watched from the kitchen window as his friends loaded a truck. When they took his desk out of the house I knew he would never come back. I wanted to cry but my father was in the kitchen and would have beat me. I held back the tears. From that day on I did not see grandpa. I was afraid to ask my father where grandpa went.
For the first time I really missed mother. She made it a lot easier to live in the house with my father. I knew she could not help grandpa, but at least when she came home we wouldn’t have to eat the nasty rice soup father cooked for dinner. Every time I had to eat that soup my stomach turned inside out. The beast, as I called my father, always stood beside me with a bamboo stick.
“This will teach you real discipline and order,” he said.
When I stopped eating he hit me on the head with the stick. Nigg said it didn’t matter what we ate, as long as father didn’t beat us. But Nigg didn’t know that I got terribly sick after eating the gross soup. With the old man (another name for father) marching up and down in front of our little table, watching every spoon of soup, I couldn’t exchange my full plate for Nigg’s empty one. I forced down every spoon. When my plate was almost empty he hit me with the stick again, yelling impatiently:
“Hurry up, I don’t have all day.”
Almost immediately I threw up, the rice soup splattering all over my plate. Father hit me again and yelled, “You think you can puke and I’ll let you off, watch and see.”
He turned around, picked up the soup pot and ladled a fresh helping on top of what I had thrown up. My stomach turned over. He stirred it and said,
I prayed, “Dear Lord, please let me die.” After I finished I ran to the laundry room and threw up again. Thank God he didn’t see it.
There was nothing I could do about my father. I felt helpless and hate began to fill my soul.
Today, I wondered how could my own father be so cruel and despicable?