I had often been given a stern warning never to have anything to do with Jim. But whenever Dad repeated that warning, I was never as concerned with the implications of going against the rules, as with the consequences of abiding by them. Besides, I was not so foolish as to be caught crossing the borders because I knew only too well that Dad always meant what he said – or said what he meant – and that no single word from his mouth was meant for the trash can. In other words, I never knew him to beat around the bush as they say; he always hit the snake on the head, whenever he encountered one, that is.
“We’re doing this for your own good,” he always said to us – my brother and I – before ordering us to make sure the house and the compound are as clean as a cow’s nose and cancelling our weekends’ time out with the other neighborhood kids or to the beach. “Ask Sawyer. ” We all loved reading Mark Twain’s “Adventures of Tom Sawyer” but while my brother and I admired Sawyer, our parents saw the fruits of his mischief as a warning to us. Dad was the one who always spoke, while Mom silently nodded to every word as if Dad was reading the words directly from her mind.
Mom never looked directly at us during such sessions. Instead, she looked at Dad all the while only darting a glance now and then from the corner of her eyes. She might have thought her motherliness would get in the way of justice if she ever saw eye-to-eye with either of her sons during those neither-too-long-nor-too-short lecture sessions, which I hated, probably even more than the punishment itself because as soon as they ended, Mom would get the courage to look us in the face and say “later” with a smile and Dad would wish us “a great weekend” as they drove off, towards fun.
One such day, a Saturday, we discovered that we could take revenge for the punishment. The birds were not singing as joyfully as they used to and the clouds in the sky formed strange animal shapes. We needed something to lift our spirits, so we did the work hurriedly and sneaked out to join our friends from the neighborhood in one of my friend’s house, whose parents had gone on a weekend-long trip. It was party time! No parental guidance. No “don’t do this”, no “don’t do that”. Unrestricted freedom! Freedom like we wanted it! Many of our friends brought cans of beer, cigarettes and cigars stolen from their parents’ houses.
We played hard rock and danced like little possessed witches and wizards, smoking like steam-engine trains and burning our guts with hard liquor, as if they did not belong to us. Some of my friends and my brother only had a few sips before they saw black and lay down, sprawled like chicken in the sun, while the rest of us, who had four stomachs, continued imbibing like real rockers. It was not long, however, before my eyes created Suzie’s identical twin and the can in my hand saw an opportunity to free itself as the stuff in my stomach erupted like a volcano.
The last time I had a glimpse of Suzie, she was hanging in the air, and then someone cut the lights off! I woke up to a strange-looking ceiling – a snow-white ceiling. The smell was strange, too. So was the silence. But the strangest thing was that I felt like I was trapped in a borrowed body. I tried to move my arms and legs, but they were too weak to move. My head felt as heavy as sea sand, too heavy to lift. Someone softly touched my left hand. I turned my head slowly to face Mom and Dad and looked at the clock behind them. It read “10 0’clock”.
Why was I in a hospital bed at ten in the morning? Immediately, my mind raced back. I remembered Suzie and her identical twin sister. No. Suzie did not have any sister, let alone a twin sister. I must have poisoned myself with hard liquor! I had ignored the implications of breaking the rules just to show Suzie I was a real man. I was not sorry for being too foolish to be caught, though. I was sorry because not only had I broke my parents’ rules, but also their hearts. Works Cited Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. California: University of California Press. 2002.