The Memory of that First Illicit Love

I first slipped my hand up Teresa’s dress one Tuesday afternoon. We were five. Like any other three o’clock that hot and dry season, we were stuck in a 20’x10’ classroom. In between coloring a red apple and outlining a brown yacht sailing on dark blue waters, we shared the feel of my finger tips on the soft silk of her inner thighs. As the three or four kids on our table concentrated on their drawings, I ventured underneath the desk for a closer look. We were young, and even worse, we were curious.

*****

The memory of that first illicit love is tinged with rumors of child sacrifices. The road to and from school was bushy. There was talk of young kids losing their tongues, left to bleed out by the roadside. There was just something in the air one could not name, both dangerous and exhilarating. In a few months I had graduated from Pre-Unit—year two of Nursery School—and moved on to Class One. Most afternoons on the way home from Silverbeck Academy I tried to walk with Iva, the headmistress’s daughter. She was gorgeous, the icon of beauty in my six-year old mind. Two years ahead of me, there was no way the boys in her class would let me get close to her. Like vultures, they skulked behind her all the way home, playing catch and daring each other to kiss her. I awaited my turn.

If during school days Iva was off-limits, over the weekends she was all mine. Her backyard had an old car seat turned into a bench. We spent hours there spinning yarns whose beginnings and endings have slipped away with the sands of time. In between, we explored large chunks of motor vehicle scrap. On one particular Sunday, blissfully unaware, I joined Africans across the continent and celebrated the freedom of one Nelson Mandela. My hand draped across Iva’s shoulder, I chanted along with the radio “Release, release, release Mandela! Africa’s No.1!”  Dressed in a bright yellow overcoat that came down to my knees, and affecting a cowboy gait—westerns were projected once a month at a local football field and I could go if I found an adult to bring me back at night—my liberty was right next to me. Freedom never tasted so sweet!

*****

My other favorite game back then was building forts. With two boyfriends, I constructed a snuggy hide-out from branches and twigs. Carefully intertwined at the foot of a tall thick tree, this was a fortress to rival all others. The three of us lay out there, staring up at the sky in the patches that had defied our skills in warping and wefting . I, the youngest, lay in the middle, the elder boy on my right. All was play, and soon our shorts came off. There then ensued a discussion as to how, and where, babies came from. Through inexplicable six-year old boys’ logic, we knew it wasn’t from the back. And yet, those dark and tight asses were not for nothing either, we thought, as we tried to push our feeble penises against each other. No, can’t do! Defeated, and with our curiosity having probably moved on to something else, we emerged from our fortress buttoning up our shorts.

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