Fri | Jul 30, 2021

Catherina

Published:Sunday | May 20, 2012 | 12:00 AM

I only got a glimpse. The door was half open as was the gate, so I just entered. Unannounced. But the brief glimpse was enough for me to recognise that the two little dark legs propped up and spread apart was Catherina, and the "big man" lying in between with pants half-way down to his knees was Mr Curtis. I recoiled immediately.

I was surprised at first, and then was in denial and bewilderment. But the thought of what was happening pervaded my thoughts like the echoing of loud drums of an ancient African tribe in the distance. My heart pounded like a "jackhammer" and my pulse raced rapidly like the time on a stopwatch in a hundred-metre race with a massive crowd cheering in the stadium. It was all happening.

The sheets were ruffled and I was unable to see the heads of the persons in the bed to clearly identify who it really was to make a clear definition. Then I waited. Fearful and hoping it wasn't who I thought it was.

For a few seconds I played over the scene in my head, I was young but very smart. Street smart. My body felt taut at first, unable to grasp the thoughts that were violently swirling in my head. I still waited. My breathing became heavier and my heart felt like it was in my mouth.

who could it be?

Somehow, I thought of Ms Carmen, my brother by my father's mother's side. It couldn't be her. She was much bigger in body compared to the little body pressed down in the middle of the bed. Then I thought of Catherina's mother, Andrea. My brother by my father's sister's side. It wouldn't be her. She had a body size similar to her mother, Ms Carmen. It just couldn't be Andrea.

My waiting seemed like 100 years. Time seemed to have stood still. Part of me wanted to go back to the scene, but my instincts told me to wait behind the zinc fence to know who it was without my presence being obvious.

And then the unbelievable happened. He came out straightening up his trousers with a satisfied smirk displayed in his horrid-looking expression with the rumpled lines of age clearly defined on his face. He didn't see me. I saw him. Mr Curtis. He never spoke much. No one ever heard his voice. He had reminded me of those very principled, morally upstanding gentleman. The dedicated and hardworking family man.

IT WAS CATHERINA

Watching his back going down the track, I could hardly wait to see who was the "other person". My waiting turned into me going up to the now closed gate and calling out my brother's name. Once, twice, as if it was the first time coming there.

Then she came out. I wasn't surprised. Somehow my streetsmart sense told me it was her. Catherina. She had a shy look on her face. And then she knew. Maybe the look she saw on my face betrayed me. I couldn't help but asking. "Catherina, was it you on the bed with Mr Curtis?" She replied instantly, with shame splattered across her face, as if caught off guard. She whispered, "Yes." I called my brother and told him. Mr Curtis got 18 years in prison.

RECENT ENCOUNTER

Just two weeks ago, I saw Catherina. I could hardly believe it. She was absolutely beautiful. A sight to behold. The thought ran quickly through my mind. If she wasn't my brother's sister, maybe, just maybe I would say some nice words to her. I caught myself quickly. Then I realised that what Mr Curtis did lies in so many of us but it takes human will and moral determination not to be caught in the same situation.

- Devon Lindsay