My Life, My Way
A True Story
My name is Rafael Corsino. I was born on December 13, 1953 in the town of Santiago in The Dominican Republic. The country was under the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo at the time but to be honest, it wasn't bad. From what I can recollect, life was easy, money was easy, and crime was at a all time low. Of course in school we had to pledge our allegiance to Trujillo every morning at 8 on the dot, some people didn't like that; especially this one student everyone called him Nista, short for Communista (Communist). He was completely against Trujillo and his government, but it was for his own selfish reason.
I don't remember my father very much but I knew I loved him. He was a handsome man too. Had a full head of luxurious hair, was 6'1, and was extremely muscular. He did have a problem though, he was a gambler. Pissed all of his time and money on gambling. He gambled on anything, billiards, dominos, poker, etc. That eventually caused his death; he never ate. He only drank his rum and smoked ciggarettes. He would go days without eating just being completely focused on the games. My last memory of him was hearing him sing "Ansiedad" by Nat King Cole while sitting down drinking his rum. He looked at me and told me he loved me, then I gave him a hug. Anything good about me stayed with him. Everyone saw me as mistake and constantly put me down. I have recieved beatings from other kids and other parents. My childhood was a nightmare. My mother never helped me nor defended me. I felt alone but that moment with my father, I had someone... but it was short lived. He died at age 35 in 1962, me, a 9 year old kid, had no one in this world. I broke down crying for days, praying to God to give me strength. Sometimes I felt like he didn't listen.
My mother married another man named Gelepo, if no one accepted me outside, him less. They birthed two daughters together, Carmen and Ana Maria. He loved them but gave me his version of tough love, which was beating me in front of everyone without remorse. My tears were constantly running down my hurt face. I began to question my eistence in this world, why am I to suffer? Why me? Questions I will eventually find the answer to later in life.
Then that one day where I went down my own road by myself finally. I was 11 years old, still going through a tough time with life but it was going to change right then and there. My mother and Gelepo started arguing about me. About what they're are going to do about me. But Gelepo gave my mother, I repeat, My Mother, a choice where he said this to her "It's me or him?". Any mother would choose her kid over anything and anything without losing a breath, but mines stayed quiet and "think" about it. That's when I told her, "You know what, it's okay. You don't have to say anything else." I opened the door and left on my own. Left everyone behind... but with no place to go. I slept outside for I don't know how long, without a bed or a roof over me. The year was 1965, a year I have carved in my mind, a year I became... Me.
One night I prayed to God to send me an angel to guide me and get me away from this dark storm. Then I went to sleep on a park bench. I woke up cold and hungry but happy when I heard the voice of an angel who was actually, my Aunt. She told me she had been searching for me since word got out that I left home. She took me in and become my new mother who was actually a mother to me. Something I didn't have. There I met my Cousin Victor who was this tough skinny kid who everyone knew. He was about 15 years old and accepted me as his younger brother. He then introduced me to another cousin named Dominguito who was older then both of us and the toughest in the neighborhood of Pueblo Nuevo, Santiago. These two would help e become the man I am now through trials and tribulations. I left the town of Guravicto where my mother resided and declared myself a Pueblo Nuevo boy.
Still at age 11, I was maturing very, very quickly. Victor and Dominguito took me to a bar for the first time. At that time, if you had money, they would let in and drink. And the drink were so cheap. A beer cost 50 cents, a jumbo beer cost 75 cents, and a bottle of rum cost $1.25, an for 5 bucks they give you a 12 pack of Presidente and one bottle of Brugal. My life from 11 to now consisted heavily on drinking and become a Tigre, a Dominican slang for street thug. They got me into drinking and taught me a very valuable lesson, in this world, you have to be tough. Or else everyone will step over you. I listened and was no longer Rafaelito from Guravicto, I became Fey from Pueblo Nuevo. How can I describe my first getting drunk at such a young age you may ask, it was a different feeling but I felt I was in total control. It felt good. From that day foward, I drank, and I drank. But all that transitioned to fighting. You see, in Pueblo Nuevo, in order to remain a Tigre, you couldn't back down from a fight. You always had to swing those punches and put down people in your way. Say what you want but that was fun to me.
2 years pass and I'm now a known Tigre in the streets of Pueblo Nuevo. Big and buff with a full grown mustache already, I was ready to settle and old business with the people of Guravicto. Mother's Day 1967, I decided to walk down to the old neighborhood with a rage. Walking down my old block, I noticed in the distance a group of people outside my mother's house. I rused down and asked what's wrong, someone told me Gelepo is beating up his wife in there. This was my chance to exact my vengence on him. I walked up to the door and could hear his punches impacting my mother's body, with all the rage in my body I kicked open the door and stood there looking at him with eyes of fire. He didn't recognize me right away but he eventually found out it was me, Rafaelito. He asked me what am I doing here, I told him these words "Today is the day Gelepo. Come outside and hit someone who will actually hit back. If you're man enough." I went outside and took my shirt off, a declaration of conflict. Gelepo came out armed with a Machete on hand. The crowd outside all witnessed what's happening and knew exactly how it was going to end. I told Gelepo "What are you going to do with that besides make me mad?" He wasn't enough to swing that machete at me, so he dropped it and started swinging his fist instead. Me and him began fighting, a Dave and Goliath confrontation. Me, a 15 yer old young man fighting a 38 year old man as a result of all of the times he made me suffer. After 5 minutes of fighting, I landed the last punch on him dropping him on the grass. From that moment, everyone trembeled at their feet, knowing they were next. This is only the beginning.