Within moments, Old Ayah, who had been with us for a hundred years, ran out. The old coot dragged me by my hand—I did not know she could run so fast—to the well in the backyard. Scooping water, she washed my hands and poured several bucketsful over me. The well water was frigid and, as a brisk breeze blew, I shivered in fits. Old Ayah said in a stern voice that I should never touch myself. I did not know what the old coot was on about and my hand, on its own accord, reached to scratch. Without warning, Old Ayah let out a shriek similar to Mother’s and gave my hand a sharp slap. That stung. It hurt fiery red. I did not know the coot was strong too.

‘Don’t touch yourself, especially there, there, and there.’

She pointed to my chest and to the spot below my navel. I asked why-why-why, and her reply was emphatic.

‘Don’t! Only bad girls touch themselves.’

And she wagged a furious finger near my nose. The poor old woman shook with outrage, and spittle flew from her lips, making me blink and squint. It seemed the demon that possessed Mother had leapt into Old Ayah. Now I had another reason for not wanting to grow old: demonic possession.

‘Okay, Ayah,’ I replied.

‘Bad, bad, bad.’ More spittle from her and more blinking on my part.

‘Okay Ayah, okay Ayah, okay Ayah.’

Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2019

Continued on Monday: Arakan Abduction (last instalment)


    1. Hello Ina,

      Yes, all children start out innocent. I also notice most toddlers smile readily and this goes on right up to 6 years or so for many. Then, they lose that ready smile. Sad.


  1. Strange that when it comes to subject of birds and bees, parents or guardians usually gets tongue tight and authoritative. They don”t know how to approach the subject tactfully and impart the knowledge. Just like poor old Ayah who simply freaked out.

    1. Well Windy,

      If modern parents and trained teachers can’t do it – what chance an Old Ayah about 2,000 years ago. I’ve heard stories of married couples back in the 1970s/80s who have not seen one another in the nude. When time came, it was lights off – LOL.

      Not too long ago Singapore had a law whereby if a man impregnated a woman who thought he was her husband but he was not – that constituted rape. Take a moment to wrap your mind around this. How can a woman allow a man to have sex with her and not know he was not the husband?

      Well, in the cramped quarters in Chinatown, people literally slept side by side – with other couples who shared the same “long” room. And they did it in pitch darkness and without making a sound. Yes, I know – must have been real fun, that.

      There have been cases when a man slept next to a woman and started – and she sometimes assumed, he was the husband. Weird but apparently it was common enough to have a law passed by the British colonialists, no less.


    2. Your reply gave me a good laugh. So when the baby comes out, he or she looks different and back then you don’t have DNA test. All the confusion! LOL.

  2. The old lady would have had a heart attack if she were to rise from the dead and take a walk down any street of the cities of the world today. She’d have been doing a lot of slapping and washing and would jump back into the grave in horror! 🙂

    1. Dear dear Ian,

      You gave me a good chuckle. Yes, the poor thing would have a heart attack won’t she 🙂 And yes, the grave would be the perfect sanctuary 🙂

      Thank you, and cheers to you too,

    1. Hello Nisha,

      First comment here, I see. Welcome aboard 🙂

      I didn’t imagine people still behaved so. But you’re probably right. Thank you, it’s good know.

      All good wishes,

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