Since Deity will be back with you in just a day or two, this will be my last post. It has been a delight to make a contribution to this blog. I have gathered much inspiration from the pages here over time, and I have loved the opportunity to give something back.
He’s a special bloke, our Deity. When I wrote and told him how much I was enjoying writing the posts and that I found it liberating, he wrote back to say how pleased he was to hear it. He said that it had accomplished something that he had hoped when he first envisioned me writing for the blog. You see what I mean? Very special, indeed!
I’d like to leave you all with a memory. It was a very special day for me and I hold the memory dear. Now, it pleases me to share it with you...
One Saturday morning, quite early in the morning, my husband awoke me and asked if I had anything special to do that morning. Groggily, I told that I did not.
“Good. Then, have a quick shower, put on your blue skirt...that bohemian one...and the white crocheted top. No underwear. We are going to the Botanical Gardens for your punishment.”
“But, what about the children?”
“The children are old enough to be left on their own and you know it. Quickly now! No more delaying. Your punishment is well overdue.”
I prepared for our ‘outing’ with a sense of reluctance, together with a sense of heightened anticipation. I was quiet, contemplative and resigned to my fate.
There were few cars on the roads, but plenty of runners on the track that leads around the Gardens. I chose not to look into the faces of the running men. Could they know the reason the man accompanying me carried a thin piece of bamboo as one would a walking stick? In any case, I looked the other way to avoid the potential embarrassment.
As we made our way into the depths of the Gardens we travelled the paths that led past all varieties of plants, hand in hand. Neither of us spoke. When we reached ‘the thicket’, the vast planting of bamboo with an entrance that was denied to visitors (though not us), my husband searched the area for onlookers and on seeing none, beckoned me to follow him.
We passed the hundreds of bamboo plants, enough bamboo to make canes to last a lifetime, until we reached the secluded bench by the lake, deep in shade. It was a little area we had discovered and claimed our own. That is not to say that it was exclusively ours. Boys and girls from the local grammar school ventured here too, as disclosed by the cigarette packets they left behind. I reminded myself that no self-respecting teenager would venture to the Gardens this early in the morning.
“All right. I want you to tell me why you are about to be punished.”
“Because...because I didn’t fill up my car with petrol, and we ran out in the city last week.”
“Yes, that’s right. And, have you had many warnings about filling your car up well before it reaches empty on the gauge?”
“Yes. I have.”
“Yes, you certainly have. Perhaps once you’ve had a caning for it, you might decide it would be in your interest to attend to the matter earlier. All right. Now, I want you to bend over the back of the bench. Rest the palms of your hands on the seat, please.”
I did as I was asked.
He lifted the back of the light, cotton skirt over my back to reveal my bare bottom.
“There will be twelve strokes and extras if you come up. Remember, you need to be very, very quiet. Understand?”
He stood beside me and rested the cane across my bottom, tapping a little. Then, he lifted it up and brought it down on my bottom, hard.
“What do you say?”
“One, Sir. Thank you, Sir.”
As each stroke created a new stripe on my bottom, I willed myself to be stoic, but the fifth stroke was searing and without a thought, I was up, and turned, with my arms around his neck and my head in his shoulder.
“Please, please no more. It really hurts. I will be good. I promise. I won’t ever do it again.”
“I’m sure you are sorry, sweetheart, but when I say there will be twelve strokes, I mean it. Now, you have been good up until now. Be a good...”
“Ohhh. There’s someone there. I can see someone with a backpack through the plants. He’s stopped. He’s listening.”
“Quiet now. Be very quiet, and he’ll go away.”
We waited, glued together, still as statues.
“Okay. He’s gone now. It’s safe. Back over the bench, little one. Be a good girl and after it is over, I will take you to breakfast.”
I let go of him, and returned to my whipping bench. I revealed my poor bottom to his cane. He proceeded on with the punishment and I willed myself to take the strokes silently. He had taken over the counting, softly declaring the number taken.
“Nine!! That was number 10.”
“Oh, I see, you still have your wits about you. Yes, that was ten.”
If he was testing me to see if I would launch from the seat to hit him, he wasn’t going to win. I had come this far. I wasn’t rising without permission. My mind was settled on it.
Eleven was easy. Twelve, the final stroke, was hard. He had made a point to tell me that it would be memorable, and it was. The stroke landed on my thigh. The thick welt was immediate and I sucked in air and shook to contain the pain without sound.
He helped me to stand when I was ready and hugged me tight.
“Good girl. My good girl. I am proud of you. Come and sit with me so that I can comfort you.”
We cuddled and watched the ducks pass by in front of us for several minutes; he often caressing my thigh, as if to will the welt away.
“You must keep the car filled with petrol, now, darling, all right? It is dangerous to be so low all the time. Do you promise me you won’t do it again?”
“All right, then. Let’s get some breakfast now.”
We left the thicket and made the way back along the paths to the cafe. Their seats are wooden and the sitting was anything but comfortable. But, I was happy, and proud of myself. I had never loved him more.
As this year comes to a close, we look ahead to a new year, full of the promise and hope that all beginnings bring. Our little community here knows the value of being true to ourselves, listening carefully to one another and looking out for one another. Each and every one of us, in our own way, can make a difference to the shape of this New Year around the world.
I wish you all a joyous and peaceful 2009.