Two girls walk out of the back door of the club clad in a two piece, well if you can call a couple of strings on their body being dressed. They are about the same age as me.
Soon a man follows them out. He looks familiar. Wait, I know him. I think he is from our neighbourhood. Oh yes, his daughter is in my class.
Will he help me, after all, I am as old as his daughter.
I am still wondering about that, when he leans closer to one of the girls, and then gives her bare ass a tight squeeze.
I gulp, looking at the awkward scene in front of me and abandon any thoughts of asking him for help.
If there were any doubts in my mind what type of club this was, they have cleared. I am not even sure why I am here. I should not be here, at this hour or any hour.
Earlier that day…
Who was that?
That sure sounds like my father. But that can’t be, can it?
I might as well have imagined it. It’s already 8pm, and I have been up and running since 4am, but these chores just never seem to end. My shoulders feel stiff, and my legs have almost given up. I am exhausted!
After stretching my neck & arms, I get back to the pile of clothes in front of me. I need to hurry. I still have to clean the dishes, complete my schoolwork, and I am starving. I skipped lunch as well, since I was late from school.
No wonder I am hearing things and that too such impossible things, like my father calling me, can you imagine?
My father has never called me or spoken to me in all of seventeen years of my existence. He barely even acknowledges me.
It’s not that we don’t see each other often.
I mean, we live in the same house, where you cannot not run into each other. In fact, I serve him his morning coffee and all his breakfast & dinner every day.
But despite all of this, my father has always ignored me.
Actually, that’s not true he doesn’t ignore me, I just don’t exist for him, period.
I wonder if he secretly believes that if he to not acknowledge my existence, I would one day cease to exist at all. And all his problems will be over in a poof just like that.
Sometimes, I hope that this is true as well, that I just cease to exist one day. It is not like it will matter to anyone.
“Omertà, Omertà “this time my father’s voice rings through the house, clearing all my doubts. It is definitely him and he is calling me. He really is calling me. I am still shocked.
“Omertà, come down right now”, and with that last call, I hurry down, taking two steps at a time, to face my father for the first time in all my 17 years
While I am rushing down the stairs, I hear some heated voices, and as I approach the kitchen, I can almost hear my grandmother arguing with my father. I had no idea she had come over.
“She is your daughter Lucio, how can you forget that?” nana yells, fury evident in her voice
“your own blood & bones, part of the Romano family”
“She is no daughter of mine!” my father says with disgust in his voice, and I cringe at his statement, but I am not surprised. One might think after so many years, I might as well be used to it.
My father, Lucio Romano, has always been a responsible family man, a true Italian, who dots on his wife and children. Well, of course, me being an exception.
In his eyes, I am the personification of his shame & guilt. The mistake that he can never undo. His BASTARD child, living proof of his betrayal that my stepmom, Maria, the love of his life, must live with every day.
My father & Maria were a love match, when they got married 21 years ago. They had some glorious early years of marriage, but a series of miscarriages left Maria guilt ridden and Lucio unwilling to try any more, causing a strain in their love nest.
It was during that time, that one night, my very drunk father met my not very sober mother. Their affair was short, but not that sweet, thanks to me.
“You know why she is living in my house, with my family, under my protection. You know that very well, mama!” my father reminds my grandmother.
As if my name was not enough to remind me and everyone around every day why I was here, in the first place.
You see, my father is a “man of honour “, well not literally but a “man of honour” of the Italian Mafia. An ‘initiated’ member of the Luciano family, that is one of the five families that make up the New York branch of Cosa Nostra, the Italian Mafia based out of Sicily.
The most important part of being a ’man of honour‘ is to uphold the Oath of Omerta, a code of honour, loyalty & silence, that all men take when they are sworn into the mafioso (mafia) & have to oblige by with their life. The oath bounds each man to serve
And it is this Oath of Omerta, that assured that my father keep the mafioso (mafia) honour and accept my mother and her unborn child, given my mother was the daughter of another family member and that too from the Original Cosa Nostra family in Sicily. Not accepting her would have meant hurting the mafioso honour, and while no one says it openly it would have meant that my father would have paid for that with his life.
I was the debt that he paid for being a ‘man of honour‘ and that’s why I was named and Baptised as “Omertà Romano“, to remind everyone and more so my father to why do I exist.
“The girl has been with us for 17 years. Lucio and she is a good girl, does everything that is asked of her and more.”
This is a usual topic in our household. My nana trying to plead my case with my father.
Nana has always treated me well, given the circumstances. I mean, it’s not like that we are besties who share their secrets or something, but we talk, even if our conversations are more factual & informative. We could never like really connect, but she is the nicest to me.
“We don’t ask her to work,” my stepmother interjects “she does it on her own accord. We have never raised our voice to her. She is well treated. We have given her everything”
It is true, my mother left right after I was born, for reasons unknown to me, leaving me in Maria’s care. And Maria has done her duty towards me- I have always had food, shelter, clothes and education. Our relationship is at best transactional, but I am no fool I know it could have been worse.
“We might not have asked her, Maria, but she feels obliged to do it. She feels she needs to payback for what happened, and she has been doing that since….” My nana stops as she sees me standing there.
My father & Maria follow her gaze, as soon as they see me standing, and they all fall silent.
“Omertà” my name coming from my father’s mouth sounds strange.
It was the first time he had taken my name in front of me, but he there was a sense of finality in his voice.
“Good, you are here. Pack your things.” He said casually.
Where am I going, I look around to nana & Maria, but they both refuse to meet my eyes.
“Think again Lucio.” Nana tries to intervene
“NOW!” was the only response we got.
The finality in his voice was obvious and ensured that there were no follow up questions. But where was I going with all my things?