Love is when the other person’s happiness is more important than your own.- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
True love is like ghosts, which everyone talks about and few have seen. Francois de La Rochefoucauld
“Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn’t it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up.” ― Neil Gaiman, The Sandman, Vol. 9: The Kindly Ones
I turned out right. I was my father’s pet and he being a dandy shielded me from men’s wiles by schooling me in men’s ways and tricks. He discussed adult themes with me at a very young age. He taught me all schemes men use in getting girls. Schemes I saw him used with the women in his life since I was privy to all his peccadilloes than any other member of my family including my mother. This however, did not stop me from wearing micro mini skirts on Beaufort Street. As a Perth Girls’ College student and a day student, my dressing after school hours were anti the Christian school’s principles. However, I was just expressing myself, I did not go beyond teasing line. My sisters saw me as a pretender, a mischievous naughty ‘cock teaser’. Boys came after me and though I did not know how I did it, I kept my virginity until my wedding night with Mikhail.
Mikhail was besotted with me. I was however, seeing moving with and marrying him as my key to freedom. At eighteen I felt matured and ready to settle down. My grandfather and my father implored me to learn more, read more books, get education but I wanted to work and parade myself in front of men. I knew I was beautiful and I wanted to flaunt it. I started working at sixteen in a photographic store at Perth city centre. The attention I got from men went to my head and I only managed to finish Year 12. It was not that I was only a pretty face and no grey matter but the men’s adulation and fawning over me at the store and my enthronement as the store’s bee queen flowed into my head. At eighteen and after two years of coffee breaks, lunch dates with handsome, rich and older men, since most of my clientele in the photographic store were rich, I felt I have had all the education I needed for life and have learnt everything. Although all the attention was moving me off tangent and target set for me by my parents, I never touched first base with any of my admirers. It is only now as a matured woman well schooled in men’s way that I wondered how I was able to manage it. Mikhail remained my only and even in his case, we only stopped at kissing and cuddling. When it came to men then, I was a blinkered horse and my sights were on Mika and no other the attention and fawning from other men notwithstanding.
The attentions I received at work were my preening instruments and like a peacock I flaunted my beautiful tail feathers but that was where it stopped. It was some time after my eighteen birthday that Mika was forced to pop the question. He had taken me to Kings Park. I believed what was on his mind was what boys and men take girls to do. I was however, not ready to be deflowered among Kings Park’s flowers. After walking through the beautiful and well planned horticultural wonder that the park is, I insisted on our going to watch a film at the drive in cinema in Innaloo. All through the film Mika’s hands were on my body instead of his eyes on the film. After the film, I stormed home after registering my anger with him for spoiling my birthday. Two weeks of his calls rejected, his cards returned, and his visits blocked, led to a lunch date, a flower bouquet and the classical popping of the question on his knees. His parents realising that I might end up as Mika’s wife were against the marriage.
To them, I was a sophisticated woman who mingles with the rich and the powerful in spite of my age. To them I was interested in my nails, waxing, body maintenance and accoutrements. I wouldn’t know a fig about home care, good cooking and taking care of a husband or even delivering a baby or taking care of babies when they arrive because I won’t be a good mother. They, however, did not reckon with my mother’s training in all the ‘housewifely and women arts’. His parents’ opposition fired Mikhail’s decision to marry me. I wanted to leave my parents house and he wanted to prove his parents wrong. For the wrong reasons we got married, though that was not to say that there was no love but with hindsight now as a matured mother and woman, I realised that it was infatuation and not deep love. However, it took me more than thirty years to find out. That is another story for another day. It was a well-arranged, beautifully planned marriage and my father did not stint any cost. As my father walked me down aisle of the Greek Orthodox Church in Northbridge, I was in the seventh heaven without realising that my dreams would be blown away like chaffs.