Why did they murder my father?

My mother, Amanda, continues with her memoir–and the questions of why her father was murdered.

My grandmamá Martina’s servants gossiped about my father, Pilar Reyes, and his murder. He had been the ninth of twelve children, all who lived in Berlín, the town where I was born, in the northern mountains of El Salvador. They were a wealthy family. Supposedly, they owned four giant mountains of coffee trees, I have no idea how many thousands of acres that was. But it was a lot.

My grandfather Reyes, an old man with a big white moustache, trusted only my father PIlar to take care of the estate. He managed all the properties, they say he was the most cuerdo of all the children, stable in the head, smart, a good businessman.

One of his sisters, supposedly, was the reason he died. She had an affair with a man whom the family didn’t accept, because he wasn’t on “their level.” The sister got pregnant, my father told the man, named “Blanco,” that he had to marry her. Blanco said, “I’ll never marry that bitch.” They fought. Blanco pulled out a gun, shot my father in the street, and ran to Honduras. They never caught him.

At least, that’s the story I was told. But according to the women who worked for my grandmother Martina, something else happened. And now, as I think back on the things my mother, Romilia, told me, I start to wonder.

My mother never married my father, even though he wanted to. She was young, she had lost her first husband to sickness. When my father was murdered, the Reyes family had her sign a note, giving up all my rights to my father’s inheritance. The family was afraid, with good reason: My father presented himself at the local Courthouse and officially acknowledged to be my legal father. I have seen the birth certificate: I am his only child.

I have memories of the time we lived in Berlín, my mother, father, and I. I can see myself, a little girl, playing and climbing some boulders which were very rough and held water in the crevices. They were volcanic rocks. I loved to  play in the cool water, and remember my mother dressing me warmly afterward.

The image changes: the little girl is playing at the edge of the porch and faces the immense number and thick growth of tall tropical trees with smaller coffee trees under them, and for unknown reasons she becomes afraid, at the time she—I—was standing in the Reyes coffee plantation!

There wasn’t much more for me to learn from the servants, only the hastiness for Romilia and me to escape.  I do think of waking up to the sound of soft winds and low voices while we had stopped alongside some trees. I couldn’t make out whose voices and quickly fell asleep.  We arrived in Usulután. Grandmamá Martina  immediately took over my care. I never saw the plantation again, nor the Reyes, until eighty years later.

 

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