By Aaron Aroriza:
The beach is always a sad reminder of the freedom people crave for but are denied of in their daily lives by what society expects of them. You see them running around half naked, kicking the sand with their bare feet, splashing water at their friends who just laugh back and don't take any offence, jumping around with their half naked kids, strangers treating each other like longtime friends, playing on the swings, building sand castles and dirtying themselves with reckless abandon – just the way God had meant us to be when he created us out of clay in his own image.
But we chose to conceal the image of God with Gucci, Nike, Puma, Prada, name it and then chose to live behind the very uncomfortable mask of seriousness which we only put off in the most private inner rooms of our houses and most times at the beach!
I'm still walking around and feeding my eyes on God's modified image – the one which he conjured out of the rib of his real image – when a tiny cold hand taps my bum. I turn and look down into a smiling pretty face of a five year old girl wearing a pink, scarlet laced swimsuit. “My name is Bronia. My mummy is calling you,” she says, pointing toward a lady lying in the sand.
Her skimpy blue swimwear leaves little to imagination. She calls my name excitedly as she stands up to give me one of the warmest embraces I've had in twenty years. Her knowing my name demands a lot of imagination from me; not that it's any bother seeing that I'm about to get myself unexpected gorgeous company.
Twenty years! Oh yeah, it's all coming back now. “Rita!” I match her excitement and tighten my embrace. Funny how time flies. Rita was my primary three classmate and a very good friend. When her parents were transferred to another district she had to change schools. She had hugged me good bye amidst tears promising that we would meet again. That was twenty years ago.
But she was also a naughty girl and generally believed to be the hottest in the entire P.4 class. Earlier she had made my three friends and I alternately take her on break time dates promising she would let us peep in her panties. Okay, it's us who had asked anyway and then we made a deal. We allocated ourselves days of the week on which each of us would treat beloved Rita to an exclusive break time date. After three weeks of religiously honoring the dates, Rita shied away from her end of the bargain.
She refused to feed our eyes like she had promised. She even threatened to report us if we continued pestering her. But one day we tricked her into remaining in class with us after study hours. We then demanded she deliver on her deal. I've always believed she was actually about to keep her end of the bargain but teacher Ruth just happened to be making her routine after class check outs.
On seeing the four rascals in class, she knew we wouldn't be up to any good. She bumped in and asked what we were doing. Rita, relishing her luck, gladly snitched on us, narrating it exactly like it was, to Ruth's no surprise at all.
We weren't the type that would take it lying down, so we tried to deny only discovering the hard way that it hadn't been such a good idea.
Rita dug deep into her school bag and her tiny hands came out with colored small notes. All the four rascals bent their heads in shame as Ruth read the notes out loud. I had thought I was the only one writing to Rita. But I discovered my three other friends had also been trying out their pathetic poetry skills on her. Each one of us had been hiding that fact from everyone else – little rascals, imps just. But how about my friend Rita, how come she couldn't fill me in on what had been taking place?
That was Rita then; and she seems not to have changed much. She rests her head on my chest as soon as I lie beside her, strokes my beard with her soft finger tips and is about to say something when a young girl; half-caste, probably seven years old sprays sand on us and stands over our heads giggling. “Her name is Tania; she's my first born,” Rita says with a wry smile “her Father is French and Bronia's father is Kenyan but I'm still single and available. Thanks for asking”. Her seductive smile gradually merges into an imbibing gaze as her eyes lock with mine. The moment is interrupted by my ringing phone.
“Where are you? You have to come home asap”. The emergency in my neighbor Jack's voice is unmistakable. Milly and company immediately come back to mind.
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