THE fights between my parents were frequent, and my three siblings and I were used to their separations. Papi would gather his things or Mami would throw them into the street, cursing the day she met him. But this time we were the ones who left. Papi had gotten involved with the woman next door, and for Mami this was the last straw. She swore never to go back with him. And she didn’t.
We moved into my grandparents’ house in Guayama and from there, in quick succession, to my aunt’s, my godmother’s, my sister’s godmother’s, my neighbors’ and, on occasion, even strangers’. We lived like nomads, pushing on whenever our hosts’ hospitality had run dry. We hated living in those houses. Mami had become a tyrant: we couldn’t talk at night, not even in a whisper, and if anyone offered us an extra helping of food we had to say no. If we did something bad, she’d lock us in the bathroom and beat us in a blind rage — and we had no right to cry.