It's not as if I seek to shun
the fairest light of rising sun
Nor do I wish it ever stay
that glowing orb at end of day
But I, your soul, am freer in
the softer shade of light within
"Girls are better than boys!"
"No, they're not! You can't even ride a bicycle."
"Girls can cook but boys can't."
"Can you cook? You can't, you stupid girl."
"Don't say I'm stupid."
"You're stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid.."
"Mummy, J said I'm stupid. I want you to smack him"
"J, don't call your sister stupid."
"She's a girl and she's stupid".
"She's not stupid."
"But she's a girl, so there!"
I remember having painful arguments like these with my brother, J, who's three years older than me. Fortunately, he grew into a gentle man who has a great deal of respect for other human beings, male and female.
But, back then (we would have been around 4 and 7), he was a painful older sibling. I could never understand why he used to dislike me so much. Perhaps my arrival had adjusted his world and my parents' a little more than he'd have liked, pushed him off center a bit. Not much, I can assure you! If you ask me, it mostly felt like he was the 'preferred' one.
Ah, but that was all a very long time ago and we've both had plenty of time and life experoemces to help us recover. But what on earth am I doing writing about it here?
Well, you see, there was one room in our very old house where our arguments almost always happened. Perhaps because it was the one room that was so far away from the kitchen where Mum seemed to toil endlessly. There and in the backyard.
I so wanted my brother to like me that I'd often tear myself away from Mum's cozy and reassuring smell and activity to go looking for him. If he were outside playing, I knew I'd have some chance of a not so hostile conversation which allowed me to fake an interest in what he was doing, like riding his bicycle or practicing his overarm cricket bowling with a bald tennis ball. I would have done anything to be on his good side, even sacrifice my sour gums for him.
But if we got into that room, the one with the peeling yellow paint that was no longer as yellow or as bright as it must've once been, it was hands down disaster for me. And no matter what, if J went there, I was sure to follow, like a moth to the light. I'm sure I was the shadow he just couldn't shake off! I must have been an irritation all right!
So there was this small room that was tucked away underneath the staircase and which didn't have a window. It was the room that Mum spent least time in.
During the day, it was dark. At night, it was lit by a harsh, fluorescent ceiling light, one that seemed to want to blind us. Definitely not soul-friendly. I wonder if it's the reason I dislike ceiling lights unless they're purely decorative, have warm tones and are unobtrusive?
Yep, it was the room in which J and I fought nearly all our prickly little battles. Sigh!
I guess it suffered the absence of my mother's care and attention, which probably left enough room for two growing egos and their incompatible views, J's and mine, to jostle.
We survived though, and much more, but I've decided that the soul prefers soft lighting :)