THE LARK OF THE EAST. (Part XIV)

Desolation, helplessness, suffering, and immense sadness formed a whirlwind of pain that remained in Lark’s heart after Irene’s death. Emotions that destroyed all the happiness within her being. Ridding her of love and disabling her reaction capacity, enslaving her inside a black abyss, whose depth threatened to create an intense emptiness in her soul; where little by little all light faded, and the strength of her spirit was lost.

With her will totally ruined by her suffering, Lark became an easy prey for Saul’s unscrupulous desires, who easily convinced her to return to singing. With the false promise that “singing” would diminish the intensity of the pain she felt for the loss of her daughter. Lark did not resist Saul’s wishes.  Then they began to travel throughout Guatemala. Lark sang wherever Saul got her a contract. And when she felt herself faint from her weariness, like a cunning and vilifying snake, Saul offered her a bottle of liquor. Explaining that the liquor would calm her sadness and bring her joy back. He also told her that the liquor would help her regain the necessary strength to continue traveling and singing.

Lark isolated herself from the world around her by losing all contact with her family and her reality. She always stayed locked in a room in the different hotels where she stayed every time she appeared to sing. Saul always charged in advance, but Lark did not receive any money for her shows.  Lark’s life became incoherent as she became a victim of manipulation, exploitation, and the lack of love of her husband. With each day, Lark’s dependence on liquor grew; forcing her to walk on a marshy ground where it was very difficult to stand, sinking more and more into the disease of alcoholism.

The following years were of great torment for Lark, since she could not overcome the loss of Irene, as Saul ensured that Lark was mired in her sadness to continue controlling her to satisfy his own ambition. Lark became a puppet in the hands of Saul, doing everything he asked of her. Due to Lark’s success at the fairs, Saul managed to raise enough money to realize his dream of having his own nightclub. So, he one day he simply told Lark that they would stop traveling and return to Jutiapa to establish their own business where she would be the main star.

Hearing that they would return to Jutiapa, Lark remembered her family as if they were shadows of a happy past that never existed. She, feeling sorry for herself, lowered her head and she began to cry. It had been so long since she had known anything about her family. Her mind was filled with memories and for an instant the light of the truth of her condition as a human being began to sparkle within her as she remembered her father’s care, Hilda’s love, and company of her siblings. Anguish began filling all her senses, forcing her to cry out desperately, begging for a little peace within her broken heart.

It was the month of November when Lark returned to Jutiapa, on days when the wind blows strongly and the temperature began to drop, creating a pleasant but cold environment throughout the town. Saul took her directly to the house of his parents, wanting to force her to live again in the room where the tragedy occurred in which Irene lost her life. The front door to the room creaked like an old graveyard door when Saul opened it. Lark felt her heart harden to stone as she entered. Her eyes instinctively searched abruptly for the place where Irene broke her nose when she fell from the bed. Then Lark turned her head to where Saul was and defiantly said, “I will not stay here, take me somewhere else or I will go back to my Father’s house.”

Fearing losing control of Lark, Saul took her to the place he had rented to turn into a nightclub, and they settled in a room that served as a storage. The next day, Lark felt the desire to go visit her family, but at the same time she felt guilty that she had not written or called them for so long. Her lack of self-confidence prevented her from approaching her father’s house.

The rumor that “The Lark of the east” had returned to Jutiapa and the opening of the new nightclub spread quickly. Hilda and Manuel doubted that the rumor was true because they thought that if Lark had returned, she would have already visited them. But Lark, plunged into a complex pool of guilt and frustration for being dependent on alcohol, felt a lot of shame, for which she kept locked up, not going anywhere.

On the opening day of the nightclub, Manuel was in the front row waiting for the moment to see the singer, because he wanted to know if she really was his daughter. When Lark appeared on stage, Manuel felt a lot of sadness and pain because he did not understand why Lark had not looked for them, so he stood up and left. Lark did not realize that Manuel had been there and that he had left before she began to sing.

Manuel came home with tears in his eyes. Hilda was waiting for him, anxious to know if it was true that Lark had returned to Jutiapa. Manuel did not say anything, he just hugged Hilda and started crying like a child. When he calmed down, Hilda asked him, “Is Lark the singer of the new nightclub?”

Manuel responded by shaking his head in affirmation. At that moment Hilda felt the need to look for Lark, she needed to see her, she needed to know that she was okay. So, she begged Manuel, “Take me with her, I want to see her, I need to know if my little Lark is okay.”

Manuel returned to the nightclub accompanied by Hilda when they arrived Lark’s presentation had already finished. The atmosphere in the place was deplorable, drunken men enjoying the company of unrestricted women, consuming alcohol, laughing out loud as they listened to vulgar jokes and breathing in the nauseating smell of cigarettes mixed with sweat.

Hilda clung tightly to Manuel’s left arm, who was stunned to see what was happening. They both began to walk among the tables and chairs looking for Lark. Manuel was the first to see Saul standing like a guard in front of the storage room door. Without thinking Manuel pounced on him, “Where is Lark?”, He yelled. Saul didn’t reply. Then Manuel, holding Saul by the shirt, pushed him to the ground, giving the door a strong kick to open it and what he saw tore his heart.

Lark was lying on the bed, gagged, and bound by the hands to the head of the bed with a plastic rope, while a man began to undress her. Manuel grabbed the man’s hair tightly, throwing him to the ground where he started kicking him roughly. Hilda ran to Lark and began to untie her. Then the three of them quickly left the place.

Upon arriving home, Hilda carefully observed how Lark’s physical appearance had changed, she was very thin and visibly deteriorated, then just as she had done when Lark came to her side for the first time, she hugged her tenderly and covered her with her motherly love to help heal her emotional wounds without blame or question.

TO BE CONTINUED…

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