July 17th, nineteen hundred and sixty-eight was
a day I was to never forget. It was the day I inherited the sister I had always
wanted but never had. The day that began the strange and wonderful journey
through the most unusual of relationships that was to forever mould all others.
Sheets of rain ignored the verandah and blew up
against the window panes, deforming the already grim view of the world outside.
Her view was further distorted, with tears pooled up within her eyes, mourning
the loss of her mother, my aunt. My ten year old mind wondered if she was in
fact seeing things more clearly - like two negatives making a positive, or two
childish wrongs making a right. But she was sure to know better, being two years
older than myself.
The rain finally stopped after making a big hole
in the clouds, with straight, white rays streaming down. I told her, "Skies
have opened up and connected to the earth to take your Mommy to heaven."
But that didn't seem to comfort her much; for she turned around and warmed my
face with a well-deserved slap. It taught me an important lesson - never give
unsolicited advice, especially when you haven't lived through the circumstances
What I didn't realize at the time was, this was the first of many
lessons that were to enrich my life, with her and beyond. Nothing was ever going
to be the same again. Love, lust, conflict, adventure, accomplishments, and
everything else in between, rewrote their boundaries, stretching limits to the
infinite skies that had just claimed her mother. And with that, I unknowingly
launched myself into the passage of discovering - those who risk and toil go
places others can only dream of. Those who play it safe and avoid complications
settle for mediocrity at best.
Four summers had come and gone since Azy, short
for Azalea, entered my life. Four summers and Christmases that is. Especially
the Christmases. Gifts that I had asked for, books that should have been mine,
and parents that were mine, shared and shared alike. Well, not exactly alike,
seeing that I was expected to overcompensate for the most painful of losses that
she had endured. Then again, she too would end up overcompensating for my
naivety, teaching me about things I knew nothing of, introducing me to a life
beyond the century house that had been my whole world since birth.
Until Azy, outside of school and the occasional
functions, each day began and ended within the confines of a large brick wall
that barricaded some eight acres of land. Against its farthest boundary lay a
beautiful rose garden, with rambling bushes, creepers, and various long stem
varieties in an array of colours. The delicately fragrant mass led up to a
traditional English garden - boasting foxgloves and cannas, hyacinth and lilies,
all nestled around curvy cobblestone walkways, lime green grass outlining each
stone. The path continued onto a vegetable garden with a badminton court on one
side and a volleyball court on the other. Succulent, adolescent tomatoes - ripe
for the picking - speckled red into the leafy greens trying to cover up the
beauty of their soft flesh, ready to burst from the pressure of the juices and
the seeds writhing within.
Their uncontrollable growth was encouraged by Channo,
our house-mistress, who would forever stare at them through the dusty screen
encased in the window directly above the stove. The vegetable garden was her
pride and joy. Her way of invading our bodies with the most delicious of
ingredients. Perhaps that is why her cooking tasted supreme, with enticing
aromas penetrating the entire century house - throughout its twenty rooms. We
were all drawn to the table even before the dinner bell had a chance to ring.
Poor bell - with its dented brass gong - retired after serving four generations
in my family. Three were still living with us, crowding around our handsome, ten
foot, oval, oak table. If only it could talk, it would tell stories of the
silent trophies resting on the fireplace mantle. But despite the many victories
the trophies represented, their tales paled in comparison to the knowledge I was
to gain that summer.
It all started when Azy told me to sneak out
beyond the confines of our walled hacienda, where peeling paint and ivy lattices
competing to house little bugs marked the height of activity through months of
scorching summer heat. She sold me on the idea by promising to take it a little
at a time, starting with the neighbour's house.
Fuelled by confusing hormones, four teenage
footsteps bravely walked through a shady mulberry tunnel, all the way to the
neighbour's property line. Once there, four courageous hands crept around
wrought iron bars, unfastened the latch, and creaked open the ominous gate.
All was quiet and still, with the exception of an
occasional crow breaking the monotony. The doors to most rooms in the hacienda
had been left ajar, for airing out purposes. Room after room they revealed the
same as the home I had just escaped in my quest for a novel adventure. But then,
the seventh door showed me a sight I hadn't previously encountered.
A naked body - very different from mine - lay
sprawled across a bed. Never before had I seen a man's form; specifically, the
beautiful disparities that made him a woman's other half. How exactly were the
two supposed to fit together to become one? If anyone knew the answer to that,
Azy must also. And if Azy knew, I would soon find out too.
Curiosity got the better of me, nudging my
tremulous feet within touching distance of the strange and exquisite creature.
Azy tried to pull me back, not wishing to get us caught with the sinful
intrusion, not to mention disrupting a slumber that was putting a smile on his
face and a firmness into the glistening loveliness between his legs. Just this
once, I didn't let Azy have her way. I couldn't. The perspiration on my clammy
hands helped me slip out of her grip, landing me a step closer to him.
The contrast between my smoothness and his
firmness excited me into shivers, squeezing out an abundance of fluids both in
and out of my body. I wanted to lie beside him; embracing and getting embraced,
kissing and getting kissed. My mind told me to shun such thoughts; not for their
unchaste nature, but since I had never before kissed and was sure to make a fool
out of myself. Another time, I thought to myself, after mastering the art. But
how was I to do that? Even Azy couldn't help me out of that one.
A moan from Seth snapped me out of my delicious
contemplations. Azy took my hand again - tighter this time - and hauled me out
of there. I could hear Seth wake up, breathing heavy, shouting, "Who's
there?" Bravely, I wanted to go back and face up to whatever was to happen.
But Azy fought me on that one, adamantly insisting that I had no idea what I was
"But I do know," I insisted. "He
will hold me, kiss me, and sing to me like they do in the movies."
Azy laughed, "I can see that there's a lot
I'm going to have to teach you. The real world is not anything like the
"So how is it then?"
"Better in some ways, worse in others, harder
My pride was truly hurt. I didn't seem to know
much about worldly things. Not like Azy did. Worse, my Prince Charming didn't
chase after me to teach me the sure-to-be-wonderful things. I saved face by
saying, "Who'd want him anyways? I was just kidding."
Azy smiled a knowing smile, but said nothing. It
was one of those courtesies we allowed each other repeatedly and generously,
without ever keeping track.
That night, as usual, Azy and I combed each
other's long dark hair while taking stock of the day. I focused hard on our
conversations regarding men, hoping to convince my brain into blocking all else
when it came time to serving me with dreams. You see, I was going to have him
next to me in bed that day, one way or another.