After two weeks of employment as interns to serve articles towards our career prospects as accountants in Gregga & Shaw Auditors, Regina and I became friends. Joy and excitement mounted high, with a bright future looming ahead of us. We had been called to attend a celebration of a five-year contract awarded to the auditors to work with one of the largest copper melting companies. Regina and I had both attended interviews on the same day and we were successful in securing an internship to serve articles together.
It was a well-organized formal ceremony with the ladies and the gentlemen dressed in their best. Regina and I sat close together, during the formal programme with pens held tight in our fingers, taking notes on how the project would run for the next five years. At the end of the formal announcements we had been called upon to stand up in the middle of about three hundred attendees, the majority of who were males. Our key roles as interns were announced and the master of ceremonies shared what was regarded as a joke in passing.
He jokingly said, “These two are beautiful, intelligent and successful. Neither are available and that’s not negotiable.” Laughter and cheers echoed through the big hall while everyone looked at us with admiration. We were searching for a hole to crawl into, from what seemed to be a thousand shining eyes, staring at us.
The formal programme was over. Food and drinks were served. Joy and laughter filled the room as founders and senior members of the company celebrated the success and the future expansion of the firm. While enjoying drinks, Regina and I started to share the excitement of our envisaged route to success, to our future and to overcoming the struggles of the past.
“At the end of my internship there are surely two items in my life. Do you know what they might be, Regina?” I asked.
“No Alisha I do not know,” answered Regina with a smile.
I repeated whispering, “Two items in my life – a certificate and that handsome Indian guy.” I moved my eyes and my head towards a man over at the third table, to the left of where we sat.
“You mean the one who had ushered and had introduced us to the panel during the interviews? His name is Glen,” responded Regina, in a whisper.
“Yes,” I replied, in a low tone, with a naughty expression, and with a flirtatious look on my face.
Regina laughed louder with her penetrating soprano voice and the people next to us seemed to pay some attention, but then they sat back in their chairs. I became scared that perhaps they might have overheard what was said, but I breathed a sigh of relief at their withdrawal.
I looked at Regina, who seemed relaxed and who was not interested in the pool of handsome men around us, and so I asked, “Do you have someone in your life?”
A sudden silence could have meant she was calculating a perfect response. It was as if Regina had been asked to reveal a long-buried emotional episode. There was this unpleasant feeling and a tense non-verbal response towards the question. It was intense to the degree where I had thought to withdraw my question; but before I could open my mouth to do so, Regina started to speak.
“Yes, I do have – but not now, as we speak. Well, it’s confusing and it’s a long story.” There was a momentary silence. “Maybe he is gone forever, maybe he will be back, but I used to have someone in my life,” continued Regina with a sad face. “Okay, okay, positive thinking! Yes, I have someone dear to my heart,” she cried.
Regina started to tell the miserable story of a twisted wedding dress, and she showed an obsession with wedding dresses which had led to an offensive act. The playful desires of a wedding dress that had disgraced her marriage. A story that had started out with little agreements that then led to complex hidden secrets and to well organised lies. It had started off because of two character traits, and the strange thought patterns in the two sister’s playful energy as children. They grew-up to be masters of deception in some serious life events which eventually led to the dishonouring of a wonderful bond in marriage.
At the age of twenty-four, Regina had finally found her identity and she had found comfort in her own skin as a female, and she could now, sadly, narrate what had happened.
Regina and Gina were twin sisters. Both were identical in visible physical structure, in height, size of their heads, their eye colour, their hair, skin texture and their voices. It was as if you were looking at the same person. The twin sisters were tall, and had naturally light to medium yellow complexions. They had natural suntanned skin. Long slim faces with big round brown eyes, long eyelashes and well-shaped eyebrows, with full lips and sparkling white teeth.
They had beautiful facial features and they had well-built black female bodies; suitable for their height and their weight. One glance at the twins often invited a more thorough observation, accompanied by an amazement at their natural beauty and often led to many people articulating verbal admiration by saying, “Perfect females with f lawless bodies, a work of art, designed for male fantasy, a sea of unlimited beauty.”
The first time that I saw Regina and Gina was during our first interviews at Gregga & Shaw Auditors, in a small waiting area, next to the boardroom where our interviews were held. I could not believe my eyes. We waited for about thirty to forty-five minutes and during that time, I had to excuse myself to go the bathroom. One of the twins had followed me. In the bathroom while freshening up in front of the mirror, I could not distinguish between them, perhaps simply because they wore the same formal clothes; a light pink linen shirt with white linen formal trousers, revealing a rich black belt trimmed at the edges with a visible white stitch; the same hair style; asymmetrical bobs cut sufficiently long, but hanging down to their shoulders, covering their necks; coupled with black pure leather shoes with medium heels, also trimmed with white stitching. We never spoke, perhaps because we were both nervous about the interviews.
Back in the waiting room, I looked over at the sisters seated next to one another. They whispered and giggled continuously. I had started to pay attention to them and I could see the difference in their clothing. The one sister wore brown high heeled shoes and a pair of jeans. She looked smart casual compared to her sister. and it became apparent to me that she usually dressed this way, although this was just a superficial judgement at that stage.
In what could have been not more than three minutes after the bathroom scenario, a medium height gentleman, with a light brown complexion, with a shaved shiny head, wearing a formal black suit, a sky blue shirt without a tie and black shoes, appeared through the double boardroom doors and started to read from piece of paper in his left hand. The right hand with a half-protruded wrist watch held a silver parker pen with a rose gold lining at the bottom. He wore a black leather belt, also rose gold, with one line trimmed in rich silver; quiet, expensive and handsome, I thought to myself. He announced my name in a loud confident voice whilst he moved closer to where we sat.
“Alisha Strawsor?” said the gentleman.
I almost raised my hand, with my mouth hanging open and I almost said, “Present Sir”, but a voice deep inside quickly warned me not to. ‘Alisha, this is not primary school, shut-up and standup, start moving towards the gentleman,’ said the inner voice.
“Hi, my name is Glen,” said the gentleman. “Please do come through.”
I stood up immediately and I consciously took my mind off the twin sisters, although a voice deeper inside me said, ‘Alisha, this might be the last time that you see the twin sisters.’
Fortunately, my interview was a success and I got the position. After a full two weeks, Regina the formal twin sister had also secured herself a vacancy for an internship. She is the one with me now, sharing her family background and the glamourous events of her life with me; featuring spectacular opulence, a marriage proposal, losing her virginity at twenty-four, and a series of parties with a wealthy group of friends.
Lastly, came her expensive wedding ceremony that had ended up with a mischievous, a deliberate, a tactful and a playful conscious plan that had ended her marriage life before it had even started. I had listened to something that had kept my mind awake and alert. I was shocked, numb, and motionless, with my ears and my eyes wide open, so as not to miss a drop of what Regina was telling me. It was as if we had sat there for hours and hours.
I do like to talk but I am not really a good listener. I do like drinking wine, especially an expensive wine in an exotic place such as the ‘Marble Palace’. I had never been in the Marble Palace before. I had seen it when I had passed it by bus, during my school years. It was always caught the attention of one’s eye as it was located on the main route, at the entrance to the city. However, people who had had the opportunity to attend business conferences there had spoken to no end, about the unlimited beauty of the palace.
The palace is truly beautiful, but at that moment I forgot to pay close scrutiny to the things that had made the occasion wonderful; not to mention the gentleman who I had marked for my life at the end of my internship.
On just about every level of her life story, the experience that I had listening to Regina was so surreal that it had graduated cum laude, as a story. Even under the joyous circumstances we had found ourselves in, at that moment, I couldn’t deny various emotions from excitement and joy to shock and sadness. I react differently, to different emotional intensities like a wave in the sea that rises and then crashes down again. She had drawn something out of me that I had not known existed.
Regina and Gina were born from the marriage between Lesley and Jane. They were well-cared for by their parents. Their parents were proud to have identical twins and they had always bought them matching clothes, and toys. Regina narrated how she would cry, and how she would ask for boy’s toys when they were in a supermarket, while their father would buy only dolls. Gina was happy with their father’s choice.
The family had the privilege of higher education, with their forefathers having been employed in high positions in the clergy of the Catholic society, during the early nineteen fifties, around the areas of Johannesburg in South Africa. They were a well-educated group, captured by western civilization, dating back to the discovery of gold and the economic advancement dating from eighteen eighty six, in economically well-advanced middle-class families.
The two went to school together, enjoying the company of sisterhood in all their transitions from childhood to adolescent. University as an open, independent institution had introduced and stamped maturity onto them at that stage. They also grew up under strict religious principles. The platform to express themselves as they grew up was within religious circles at church, embodying music, singing, dancing and debating.
While growing up, Regina’s character differed from that of her sister. Gina was feminine in character, and she liked to play with dolls and she was gentler when handling things. Regina had a strong character. She was more of an explorer, who would take toys apart and then re-assemble them, and she liked to challenge the boys in informal discussions in church. Despite their differences in character the two were alike in their physical appearance, and this cannot be over-emphasised.
They had the same birthmarks, a black round spot under the right foot, towards the big toe and the second one was under the left breast. Before puberty, Regina’s birthmark under her breast was small in size. During puberty, it grew, along with her breasts, to the point of matching Gina’s in visible size, but blacker, while Gina’s was a little bit green under close scrutiny. Only their parents knew the differences. They were able to identify them by the pitch of their voices, their facial expressions during conversations, and some invisible character traits. The physical presence of each twin was different.
Regina explained that she was a boy inside, and that her mother Jane would scream at her for playing soccer with the boys, engaging in fights and in arrogant, aggressive games. She had screamed at her on discovering that she had hidden a toy gun under her small pink wooden frame bed. The toy gun belonging to James had disappeared when they visited their cousin’s family. James, their cousin could not find his toy gun shortly before the end of their visit and the twins’ departure.
James had announced in front of the parents, that there was a toy gun missing. The twins’ mother had heard this, but she had dismissed the thought of her daughters being the culprit since in her mind they were girls and they had enough girl toys at home. James’s mother also dismissed the allegation, and she agreed, with Jane, sending her regards to Lesley. The toy gun episode was at best, an amazing act of naughtiness. Regina’s panties had holstered the lost toy gun. The toy gun was held against her stomach tied by her panties’ elastic band. She wore a long dress and she was pretty confident that no one could see it.
The toy gun had arrived home safe and in secret. Regina had hidden it under her bed. During summer playtime one Saturday afternoon, after almost a week, Jane watered the roses in her small garden that was separate from the main garden. She liked f lowers and she would go the extra mile and plant six different colours, and the blossoms would be carefully picked for decoration and for the sweet fragrance of fresh roses in the house.
Regina and Gina had time to themselves for a good uninterrupted play session. In the process of taking out some toys Regina then remembered the toy gun under her bed, hidden between two boxes with some other toys. She thought perhaps that her mother had found it during her cleaning duties. She checked under the bed and she found the gun still there, waiting for her.
The trickiest part of the toy gun episode was that Gina did not know that her sister had stolen the toy. She herself was not interested in boys’ toys. Regina thought quickly as she extended her hand towards the toy under the bed, and she carefully pulled the toy out trying to hide it from her sister’s eyes. She stood up with and she held her right hand behind her back to hide the toy gun. She smiled and she then asked Gina to guess what she had in her hand. Gina could not think of anything and Regina then brought her hand from behind her back with the black toy gun in her hand. It looked like a real gun at first glance.
In the first playful agreement to lie, the two had agreed to keep the stolen toy gun a secret. Gina had deliberately withheld information to protect her sister from her parents’ rightful discipline had now started. As she played with the toy gun, Regina jumped and dived making sounds. She acted as a police officer and shot at imaginary thugs, unfortunately for her, her mother had appeared at the bedroom door at a blink of an eye.
As Regina carried on telling me her story, the degree of my concentration and my focus increased. The entire story started to play out like a movie, a symphony orchestra that played in the background to entertain guests during the showing, blended with Regina’s story. I found myself becoming closer to, the lows and the ups of her real life events.
Regina continued to explain that given the nature of the toy gun, her mother had noticed it immediately and with no questions asked, she was pulled by her hand out of the playroom into the long passage and she was dragged to the kitchen. There was a short belt that hung behind the kitchen door, it was an old leather belt from her father’s old leather luggage bag and her mother was known to use it for punishment.
Lesley the sweetest parent would never lay a hand on his daughters, while Jane was strict and quick on corporal punishment. Five strokes on the buttocks and she was forced to keep the toy gun safe until their next visit to the family, and she was to hand it back to James with an apology to him and to his mother.
Regina became angry and she wished that her father had worked nearer to the family, and that he could come home every day from work. Unfortunately he worked as a sales, marketing manager and supervisor at one of the leading satellite equipment companies, and he had travel very often for his job. She had understood her father’s situation, even when he had refused to buy her any boys’ toys, but he was not the shouting type. He would take them to the park and they would play touch. He would push them on the swings and he would lift them up into the air so that they could see the other end of the park. He always praised them and he told them how beautiful they were and that they were dad’s shinning stars.
Lesley was a responsible father and he always made sure that he was home for his daughter’s birthdays and for the main school holidays. He would go to the supermarket and buy them toys and a birthday cake to celebrate the occasion. He made sure that the family had enough money to afford the things that they wanted and needed. He loved his wife. Although he was not a hands on person, he was very talkative. His vested interest was in politics and in sports, especially soccer. He was also an avid newspaper reader.
Unlike their mother, their father had many friends, and when he was home, they would come around for a finger licking good barbecue and a bottle of the good stuff, expensive whiskey. He had done a course in politics while still at school, but he had never pursued it to fruition. Instead he had studied communications and marketing.
Their mother, Jane was a dedicated housewife. She was very supportive of her husband, and she was focused and analytical. Everything that she touched had to be perfect. She worked both inside and outside the house, by changing dead light bulbs and so on. In the kitchen she liked to try new recipes and she was a good cook and a baker with very few friends.