Wednesday, 7 September 2011

A Feeble Fan

The soft melon and pistachio green walls reflected the shadows of the lazy ceiling fan. I fixed my gaze on the flapping wings, wishing after every slow turn that the events of that hot summer afternoon had not been real.

My books, my poems, my diaries, my photo albums, my pen-pal postcard collection, my drawings, my teen magazines, my birthday cards, my newspaper clippings, my old Billy Idol and Rod Stewart posters, my autograph collection, my comics, my dictionaries, my fashion catalogues, my “if-I-win-the-lotto” wish list, my high school transcripts, my address book, my hardly-ever-touched bible, my linen stationary paper, my funky pen collection, my freshly purchased college books seemed to have gained a life of their own before shamelessly spreading in complete disarray on my bedroom floor as if wanting to remind me of the hurricane of my obsessive desperation when I tried to retrieve that precious letter a couple of hours before.

It was in between my private collection of poems that I hid it. I knew my mother had the nasty habit of sniffing around my things, so I had to prevent her from finding it. But my mum, an overprotective fire survivor, has an incredible knack of being able to unveil a secret as easily as she can detect an iron that has been left on even as far as the next-door neighbour’s home. Nothing, virtually nothing, escapes my nosy mother, and my letter was no exception.

“Either you tell you father what you have done or I’ll give it to him. This letter confirms that the sexual innuendos in your poems are not just a product of your imagination. "I am blissful with happiness for having lost my virginity to you.” Mom quoted me with a reproachful, condemning tone, omitting the subsequent “I love you”. I locked myself in my bedroom repressing the urge to slam the door. I had three hours before dad would return from work.

On a bookshelf, a picture-frame of us sitting in our living room reminded me of better times. With his left arm warmly wrapped around me, his neatly trimmed moustache displayed a discrete cinnamon pearly smile. I was laughing, revealing that it wasn’t long ago that I had grown new teeth. I stared at the black and white photograph trying to imagine how my dad, a man of few words and a placid, quiet character would react. I was his only daughter. I was seventeen.

I lay on my bed, held a pillow against my chest and for nearly three long hours I fixed my gaze on the ever-vicious circling of the ceiling fan, which seemed too weak to disperse the humid heaviness that filtered through the half open blinds. I thought I heard distant thunder claps. It was to rain heavily that night and the lurking heat of the paved streets outside would burst into steam. I glanced through the window, recalling what it was like to shower naked and play in the rain. Those happy Caribbean childhood summers were gone and no matter how hard I wished for it, the feeble fan could not turn back time or return my innocence. I had to tell dad.

I heard the recognisable smooth vintage sound of his Peugeot 404 approaching as I counted the ticking seconds at the pace of the fan's flapping wings. It would take just a few minutes before dad knocked on my door and claimed a kiss, like he did every day when he came back from work. Thick rain drops started to fall far away and the smell of moist tropical soil gradually invaded my bedroom.

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