The boy wants to grow up and be like his Dad, but it's not the kiss that does it for him.
"Is this the first time you’ve kissed a girl?” she asked.
“Of course not,” he said, reddening.“I can’t count the number of girls I’ve kissed.”
“You’ve a lot to learn!”A teasing twinkle lit her eyes.
Shimmering stars reflected brightly on the still waters of the pool by which they stood.Parked cars blocked the driveway.Native drivers squatted by the entrance gate, smoking beedies (the Indian cheroot), chatting with the night watchman.The sound of balls being thwacked: a tennis game on the floodlit court.The swish of a shuttle-cock: the badminton court also in use.White uniformed bearers in elegant turbans, flitted about bearing titbits on trays.
The gardens were a profusion of winter flowers: multi-coloured snap-dragons, red and white dahlias and purple pansies.Sweet peas, pastel blue and pink, crept up the wire netting around the tennis court.Globe lights, perched on low concrete pillars, shed their glow on the lush grass and flower beds around the driveway.Jazz music and laughter floated down to where they were alone by the pool, hidden in the darkness under a tree.It was half-an-hour to .At the witching hour, everyone would don bathing suits and trip down to splash and squeal in the chill water of the pool.
“A handsome boy like you,” she chaffed, “with all this to offer, should have girls falling at his feet.”
“I’m not short of girls,” he said.“And besides, all this is not mine.It isn’t my Dad's either.It belongs to the Company he works for.He just lives here because he’s the manager.”
“That’s neither here nor there,” she said.
“I have to live in town with my uncle.I go to college.I come here only on weekends,” he said, unable to stop himself rattling on.He began to feel the largest kind of fool.
“Poor little man!” she said poutingly.
She was in her mid-twenties, with the fair, smooth skin from her English blood and the black hair and firm figure of the Indian.Her bright green eyes flashed with eastern fire.“I’m going to teach you to kiss,” she whispered as she brought her mouth close to his.“I mean, really kiss.Just part your lips a little and don’t open so wide.”His heart was pounding.She nibbled at his lower lip.“Try to do what I do,” she said huskily.He placed his tentative lips on hers and followed her lead.He was an eager learner and she taught him how to hold her, where to put his nose, the right amount of lip pressure and how to use his tongue.Under the girl’s skilled guidance, he was soon kissing with the expertise of a practiced lover.She felt a certain triumph; he a pride in his manhood.He knew now, at sixteen, he was at last grown-up.
“Come,” he said abruptly, “let’s show my father.”
She smiled.“Do you really want to?”
“Yes!Yes!” he said.Then anxiously: “Do you mind?”
Her eyes searched his and she saw only innocent eagerness.“No.”
“You see,” he said, “he thinks I’m a child.Do you think I’m a child?”
“No, I don't.You’re a handsome and exciting young man.”
“You won’t mind kissing me in front of him?”
“Not one little bit,” she said, each word sharp and separate.
Since his mother’s death two years earlier, his father had wallowed in a sea of faces.During the first months of aching loneliness, he had clouded his brain with alcohol.He threw lavish parties at his bungalow, a short drive from the city, and frequented most of his friends’ parties in town.His was a familiar figure at Firpos, at Princes and the Golden Slipper.He escorted several women to these nightclubs and drank until he was silly.When a cabaret entertainer, disturbed by his rowdiness, shouted across the hall, to the delighted roar of the patrons: “You there!Shut up or I’ll pour you back in the bottle,” he began to curtail his drinking.
In his forties, attractive, and full of sophisticated charm, he made a woman feel nothing in the world mattered but she.The ladies knew they were being flattered outrageously, yet they found him irresistible.No sooner had they succumbed to his allure and shared his large bed, he was bored with them and moved on to his next conquest.Many of his past playmates mingled with his guests.They found it difficult, in the face of his urbanity, to maintain their chagrin as discarded lovers.They drank at his bar, danced to the music of his radiogram and searched for new bedmates to keep them in the society to which he had accustomed them.
His son idealized him.His father was the epitome of all he hoped to be.He yearned for the easy grace his father employed in company.People told him how fortunate he was to have such a wonderful father, so handsome, so charming, so wise.He patched up connubial quarrels and arbitrated between quarrelling brothers.Everyone praised his tact and wisdom.“I hope you realize how lucky you are,” they told the boy.“You can learn so much from your father.”
In truth, the boy hardly saw his father.What he knew of him, he had been told by others.Once he had returned from boarding school after his matriculation, they were rarely alone together.He had no way of knowing his father avoided him because he was so much like his mother.How could he suspect his father found his exclusive company distressing?Weekends at the bungalow were social events with people everywhere. If the driver appeared on a weekday evening to fetch him from his uncle’s home, he’d be driven to a flat where a party was in full swing.
“Ah!Here's my son!” the father would call out as soon as the boy appeared in the doorway.“Come.Have a drink.”
His whisky-bearing arm would encircle his son’s shoulders.The familiar tinkle of ice-cubes in a glass would sound close to the boy’s ear.“Bearer!Over here,” he’d summon the servant in Hindi.“Give my son a brandy and dry.He doesn’t like whisky.”He’d flip open his gold cigarette case and proffer it to the boy.“He’s not my son,” he would announce, “he’s my friend.”
Bursting with pride, the boy would take a cigarette though it afforded him no pleasure.In darker moments, he would think: “I wish I were more his son than his friend.”He tried to make his father more attentive to his emotional needs.He became stubborn, argumentative, difficult, and it served only to aggravate the situation.“When will you grow up?” his father would snap and leave him to himself.The remark cut more deeply than his father ever knew because the boy did not know how to grow up.If someone would only tell him what he must do!He wanted desperately to be grown-up for his father’s sake.
Now he knew how to kiss.At last, he could live in a grown-up world.Like his father, he had proved himself successful with women,.Eagerly he pulled the girl up the flight of stairs to the wide verandah.In the lounge, couples danced to the music of a recorded jazz band.Bursts of laughter punctuated the noisy air.
“Dad!Dad!” cried the boy.
He led his alluring kissing teacher toward his father, upon whose arm another girl hung possessively.“See this!”He swung his partner into his embrace and kissed her on the mouth.She responded with an unexpected ardour.Her arms went round his neck, her hands grabbed a handful of curls from the back of his head.She moulded her body against him and pressed her lips violently to his.He felt wild thrills and a tremendous elation.
Suddenly, with terrific force, he was wrenched from the girl and flung across the room.He would have fallen had not one of the guests caught him.Someone stopped the music.His father's eyes flamed like those of a man possessed; his face was tense, his jaws rigid.He drew his hand back and struck the girl across the face with a resounding smack.She fell across the sofa.A moment’s dreadful silence.
“Get out!"His father's low voice was quivering with rage. "Get out and never let me see your face again!”
A strange smile of triumph hovered about the girl’s lips.She lifted a defiant head and returned his black look fearlessly.The victory message in her eyes remained unspoken.
“Bearer!” he called sharply.“Tell the driver to take this woman home.”Then whipping back to her: “You!You’re worse than a whore!”The words came out like pistol shots.“I’ll kill you if you come near my son again.”
As she was hustled, laughing, down the steps, the boy trembled, cringing with incomprehensible shame.Petrified, he waited for his father to turn on him, wondering... what had he done wrong?
Mr. Johah, this is a wonderful mix of mayhem, and mystery--I love how you ended it on a confused note--like we're inside the boy's mind wondering, and yet outside knowing, and refusing to tell (it's too painful to tell the truth to that inocent young man) You'll need to add something to the father to make us like him a little--show he has compassion, and add something to the girl to make us not like her--perhaps a sly look, an all-to-ready to show dad attitude (more slut-like) Great story--Charlie