AN OBEDIENT LITTLE GIRL
AN OBEDIENT LITTLE GIRL
A young lady learns the twin virtues of patience and obedience
She was my mother’s friend. We called her “Auntie”. She wasn’t really related to us, of course, but we were always prompted to say: “Hi, Auntie Wong,” lest we got our hands pinched. We learned early on to pipe up our formal greetings as quick as we could.
Auntie has been part of my life on and off from the day I was born. My parents tell me that she came to visit me and cuddle me soon after my birth, when my father’s own mother shunned me. My grandmother was scornful that I wasn’t a boy, since I wouldn’t be able to perpetuate the family name.
I think I was in my pre-teen years when I started feeling close to Auntie. I would be near her whenever I could. I liked to watch her. She was beautiful, slightly haughty, and a touch domineering, just enough to maintain the necessary distance between two people. I would suddenly awaken from my usual state of daydreaming when she buzzed our apartment from the street below. I can still remember standing on my tiptoes at the intercom, barely enough time to call out: “I’ll be right there,” before racing out down the concrete steps.
She used to scoop me up in her arms to greet me. She’d say, “You’re growing taller!” The utter joy I felt in her embrace was the one most intimate feeling I knew.
I didn’t really know much.
Family relations and customs are different in Taiwan. Even though I’ve lived here in England for twenty years now, and assimilated much of the culture. I’m still shocked by the way young people and adults talk to each other. There seems to be a lack of respect that is increasing, spreading like a disease. This disrespectful casualness does not exist in Taiwan.
Likewise, even though I loved Auntie dearly and was her favourite “proxy daughter”, I didn’t talk to her about my personal curiosities or worries. School and food were about the limit of topics we could discuss.
Even so, something started budding between us. Once, I was talking to her about watching my classmate Ueng Jing getting beaten by my teacher. He was a mediocre student, but that wasn’t why he was beaten. If he had been a good mediocre student, all would be well, but he started to slip even in the middle level that he was in. That was the reason for getting into trouble.
I was thankful that I could study hard and get good grades. The thought of my hand being rapped by that nasty ruler was bad enough, but that wasn’t the worst punishment. If you really upset Teacher, like Ueng Jing did, she would make you stand in front of her desk, pull down your pants (or pull up your skirt, if you were a girl), and then take two rulers together, hitting you once for each point lost on a quiz, or in sets of ten if you did something wrong in class.
I never incurred Teacher’s wrath. Perhaps this was why I was curious about it. When I watched, I would sometimes snicker to myself, seeing how shameful and weak my fellow classmates were. I remember thinking: “I could take that without crying,” and wondering how much of a beating would be necessary to break me down.
I told Auntie about this incident, describing Ueng Jing’s punishment. I even got up the courage to admit: “I’m glad Teacher thinks I’m a good student. I wonder what that ruler feels like, though.”
Auntie looked far away. She was nodding as if listening to me, but I could see in her expression that she was thinking about something else. I remained silent, and I never mentioned anything like that again. It was too weird and scary, that distant look Auntie got.
Auntie Wong moved to England after I was accepted into a prestigious Gao Wang school (equivalent of an English Grammar school) and by the time I graduated a few years later, I had almost forgotten about her. Once or twice a year I’d dream about her and that was about it.
It was soon time to study for the college entrance exams. I spent mornings and afternoons reading and writing or taking self-tests while Mother brought me rice and porridge or bao dze (steamed buns). Usually the food would sit forgotten and turn cold, signalling that it was time for me to ride my little Honda moped to the tutor’s for another three hour session.
It was gruelling; the only time I allowed myself to relax was once a month in a crowded movie theatre, alone. I had boys chasing me, but they were such bumbling fools I always chose to watch a movie by myself over going on a date.
When mother told me Auntie Wong was visiting Taiwan – for the first time since she moved away – and that Auntie wanted me to visit her at the Lai-Lai Hotel, my fingers froze around my pencil. Mother asked me if I was feeling all right, said I shouldn’t study so hard (meaning “I’m proud of you, studying so hard. Maybe you want to take a five minute break?”). I managed not to fluster my response. “I’m fine. I’ll just read for another hour and then get ready to go see her, okay?”
I stared at my open book, back turned to my mother so that she wouldn’t see that I was no longer concentrating. I wondered what Auntie and I would talk about. I wondered how she’d look. I knew she was in her mid-thirties, a few years younger than my mother, but I didn’t know what to expect. Would she be the same as I remembered? Charming, mysterious, ever loving towards a “proxy daughter”? What changes did four years in London, England bring about in a person?
I’d heard of high-school teenagers who left Taiwan on the merit of their musical skills – pianists, violinists. I had never touched a musical instrument in my life so I never had that chance. These kids were young, talented, and obedient, but as soon as they stepped foot on foreign lands, I’m told, they immediately “turned wild”.
Any amount of strict upbringing is vulnerable to a breath of freedom.
By the time I was ready to go and meet her the streets were flooding from a sudden heavy thunderstorm.
I wheeled my moped out under the cascading rain, out into the neon-shimmering street. It was so cold to ride without a raincoat. I began to notice a dampness seeping into the denim that covered my upper legs. The thirty-five-miles-per-hour against my water-streaked face and arms was no help, either. I gunned the throttle.
Lai-Lai was and still is one of the classiest hotels in Taipei. It catered to wealthy travellers who did their business in karaoke bars – establishments that offered a selection of rotating female “escorts” and bottles of hundred-year old XO, a hundred dollars a shot.
The hotel loomed in front of me. I imagined Auntie in there, high above the crowded streets, immune to the mundanities of barking hawkers and honking taxis. A man in a long red trench coat stood at the entrance. My eyes darted across his two rows of shiny silver buttons, while his gloved hand spun the revolving door for me.
A rush of cooled air greeted me, worsening my wet state. I tried to warm up in the elevator, while I contemplated the life of a man whose job is to spin revolving doors while dressed as some other man’s servant.
My parents had always raised me to be “something”. At some point in any childhood, the definition of “something” must have crystallised into “a person whose revolving doors get spun for them”. I was to be person with the clout to make other people remove my obstacles for me.
I smoothed out my wet hair, wringing the ends into my fists, dripping onto the floor of the elevator. It was hard to keep myself from shivering, but I tried. I wanted to be presentable when my Auntie saw me.
The elevator chimed my arrival and opened to a plushly carpeted hallway. Heading toward her room, I passed reds and golds which covered the walls. Auntie’s room turned out to be a suite with elegantly carved double doors. I pressed the doorbell and waited.
The latch clicked and the white doors swung in to reveal my Auntie’s smiling face. She yelped in delight and then grave concern.
“Shiao Mei! Why didn’t you wear a raincoat?” She ushered me in with great enthusiasm and told me to put down my things. The she called out in English to someone in a different room.
Instantly, a small Caucasian girl appeared with a terry-cloth bathrobe draped across her forearms. Auntie demanded that I take off my jacket and change, pointing toward the bathroom.
I was amazed at the size of the suite. The bathroom was clearly for visitors of the person who stayed there. Vague fantasies of wealthy, unscrupulous businessmen living in hotel rooms came to mind.
But most mysterious was that girl! My Auntie certainly was “someone,” having a servant like that. I began to spin more vague fantasies while peeling off my sodden clothes.
I didn’t know what to do with my clothes once I had finished changing, so I held onto them and exited the bathroom. That girl was right outside the door. Her arms stretched toward me to take my belongings. I handed them over; it seemed the proper thing to do.
Auntie was in the living area. She motioned for me to join her at the coffee table. I chose to sit on one end of the long couch while she lounged on an extravagant chaise lounge of red velvet and gold embroidery.
“So! Tell me how you’ve been? Have you gotten into a good school? Do you have a boyfriend?”
I answered her question as succinctly as possible. I felt awkward; the dynamics between us had changed. I was no longer a young child who could be scooped up in Auntie’s arms and twirled around. I didn’t know where my place was anymore and it disturbed me.
“You seem tired. Are you okay? Do you want Jenny to get you anything? Auntie asked, motioning regally.
“No thank you, Auntie…” I hesitated.
She cocked her head, prompting me to continue.
My voice betrayed my intense curiosity. “Auntie, who is Jenny?”
“Ah, she is my – maid.” She frowned at the final word, “young ruhn.” It didn’t seem to be exact enough translation for her. The Chinese word literally means “a person to use” but is used to describe an outsider who cooks, cleans, and takes care of children.
Auntie explained, “Only, she doesn’t just clean the house. She takes care of my bookkeeping, makes travel reservations for me. You can think of her as a secretary, one who is always by my side.”
I nodded silently. Auntie had the same expression on her face as years before. The questioning, serious look on her face that I saw when I told her the story about my classmate in elementary school.
This time, I called her on it. I don’t know if it was the awkwardness or the chills that made me bold, but I asked her straight out.
“What are you thinking about, Auntie? You look like you want to say something yet…”
Auntie nodded. “You really are smart, Shiao Mei. Yes, you’re right. I’ve been waiting a long time to bring this up with you.”
Auntie took her time extracting a cigarette from a silver case. Out of nowhere, Jenny showed up with an open Zippo, proffering a tall orange red flame. Auntie breathed in slowly, sucking the flame into her cigarette, and then nodded to the girl, who stepped back silently.
The ritual gave Auntie time to think about how she would phrase the proposition I would discover she’d been holding back for eight years.
“Shiao Mei…” she started.
Auntie was a “power businesswoman” in London. She explained what that meant to me, that she worked at least sixty hours a week taking out clients or working at her office late into the night. She worked hard, she pointed out, and she played hard. She looked into my eyes as she told me how she played.
I remained still as she spoke to me, recalling my fascination with my teacher’s beatings. Auntie told me that she gave beatings to Jenny and to others because she liked to and because they liked receiving them. They, like the inquisitive child I was years ago, wondered about how much they could take. But didn’t just wonder, they tested their capabilities and expanded their limits. They wanted more.
I thought about this news, not sure about how I was to react. It didn’t shock me. It intrigued me. I’d never known anything about this kind of behaviour or relationship in my world, but its existence seemed perfectly natural. Emperors and royalty of my ancestry had legions of servants at their command. Many of them must have been honoured to be given the attentions of their masters, whether it be in the form of beating or loving.
I couldn’t think of a better noblewoman to serve than my Auntie. She had the drive, poise, and eyes of an aristocrat; she possessed an irresistible magnetism.
Still, it was so foreign to me that I could do nothing but sit in silence. I glanced nervously back and forth between my Auntie and Jenny.
Auntie read my thoughts in my expression and understood.
“Here, I’ll show you.” She said, “Jenny,” her voice calm but isistent.
The girl came to us and knelt by my Auntie’s seat.
This was the first good look I had of Jenny. She was attractive, with short brown hair that was shaved at the nape. She had a look of extreme contentment and serenity, kneeling close to my Auntie.
I watched Jenny listen for my Auntie’s next words. “Lift your skirt, Jenny. Show the girl how good you are.”
Jenny rose up on her knees and pulled the hem of her knee-length skirt up. First, the clips of her garters showed, and then her white flesh. This was the first time I’d ever seen another woman’s naked pussy; at the time I didn’t even know the word for it.
“Good girl, Jenny. Just sit tight with your pussy ready.”
Auntie directed Jenny to face her. The girl did so by shuffling on her knees. Auntie stepped her high-heeled shoe between Jenny’s thighs and gave a light kick. Jenny jumped slightly, but in the quiet tension of the room the movement was jarring.
Auntie made a “tsk-tsk” sound and her voice dropped to a low menacing timbre. “You know better than that. Don’t embarrass me in front of others.”
Jenny nodded. “No, madam, I will try harder.”
“Thank me.” The command was the beginning of a ritual.
She kicked Jenny’s pubic mound again. They were very soft kicks, with her toe barely grazing the fuzz-covered skin. With each kick Jenny thanked my Auntie. The dialogue was perverse. It reminded me of the myriad school beatings I’d witnessed in which the child would have to count each stroke of punishment, forced to embarrass himself in front of his peers. There was something different, though. The difference was the look in Jenny’s eyes.
She hadn’t once closed her eyes except to blink. I learned later that this was a product of her training. Auntie didn’t like her maid to lose herself and forget who she was serving.
Jenny’s eyes told an intense story. The impact, the pain, the ebbing into a sexual glow all circled about in her pupils. Over and over I saw the same motif; as Auntie swung harder, the eyes grew darker.
Her face was contorted with the expression of one who held back a tremendous force. I saw men in flowing robes twirling in impossible somersaults, women with ribbon-bound hair fighting as skilfully as their opponents. Spears flashed and bamboo poles appeared from nowhere as Jenny began to gasp audibly I heard Auntie egg her on. She said, “Come,” which I didn’t understand. She said, “Give it to me,” but I didn’t know what was to be given.
In a vacuum of time, a shiny spearhead plunged into its flesh target, and Jenny cried out in convulsions.
I saw my Aunt’s shoe nestled between her girl’s folds. The patent leather was stained with a liquid which reflected the yellow light from a table lamp.
Auntie spoke again, “Clean.”
The girl pushed herself back with her hands and lowered her head to her mistress. She kissed and licked at the glistening point of Auntie’s shoe. She continued to caress it with her tongue and lips even after all her own wetness had been sucked off, gathered in, and swallowed.
The atmosphere declined into a quiet peacefulness which helped slow my thundering heartbeat.
Auntie looked up at me with a lascivious, hedonistic half smile.
I blinked, not knowing what to say.
She helped me out with the conversation. “Why don’t you come closer and have a go yourself?”
I hesitated a proper moment, then stood up and walked toward my Aunt.
At that moment I couldn’t decide whether to kowtow or sit beside her on her throne.
“Men have forgotten this truth,” said the fox. “But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed…”