Carina and Anabel - Episode 1: Ana's Dream

Filed Under: Short Stories

Date Created:06 Nov 2013

Last Modified:06 Nov 2013

Number of Views: 531

Written By: Enock Simbaya

SHE WAS IN the spotlight.

She held the microphone closer and she sang life into it. And as her voice rippled through the largest auditorium ever, hundreds, thousands – no, millions of people sang back to her with shouts, whistles, claps and all manners of excitement.

The stage was her life. It was meant for her, and her for it.
The audience’s applause could not die down, even after she stopped singing.

Before her, a red carpet rolled away, leading straight to the most luxurious car she had laid her eyes on. Walking on the carpet felt like walking on air, conquering the sky, ruling the world even! As the heels of her blazing shoes tapped on the carpet, the restrained crowd desired to throw themselves down at her feet, touch and kiss her legs.

The Chauffeur opened the vehicle door for her. A dazzling light issued from the inside…

“Wake up! Ana, wake up!”

Before her was not a cheering crowd or a flashy vehicle, but the angry face of her sister.

“What now?” she protested, pulling the cover over her head.

Carina pulled it off. “Wake up already! Look at the time. Are you not late for your lecture?”

“No!” she almost screamed, wishing she was back in the dream. “I told you class on Tuesdays begins at 14:00hrs!”

“Wake up, anyway. You cannot be sleeping at this time. Now, what’s the meaning of this?” Carina asked, pointing at two posters of Nas stuck on the wall. “I want them off.”

“No way! They are just posters.”

“Ana, you really don’t understand what influence such music has on people’s minds. They are corrupting. I have told you many times. I want them off.”

“No way, it’s my bedroom.”

“Well, it’s my house.” She tore off the posters.

Ana jumped off the bed. “Why do you treat me like a small girl?” She snatched the torn posters from her sister’s hand. “I’m big enough to know what I am doing. Look what you have done. I spent money on them.”

“Yes, money which I gave you. Now dress up and do some chores. I’m going for work.” She slammed the door as she left.

Anabel slumped onto the bed. This wasn’t going to be a nice day she thought.

The door swung open again. Carina’s head peeped in. “By the way, I’m confiscating the pink blouse I gave you.”

“What? Why?”

“As punishment.”

Ana felt like bursting. “Whatever!!” was all she said as the door slummed shut.

*
OUTSIDE, CARINA HAILED a taxi. The driver looked familiar.

“Good morning, madam,” he said when she had entered the vehicle.

“Good morning.”

“Where to?”

“Town.”

He drove off, and increased the volume on the car’s radio. The song playing was one of Carina’s favorites. She let herself get carried away by it, forgetting the real world: the busy cars and people scurrying by, trying to catch up with the day.

She directed the driver to the building where she worked, gave him the money, thanked him, and alighted. She met her friend and workmate Fridah at the entrance of the building. After hugging each other, and other manners of girlish greeting, they started up the stairs to the third floor, as the elevators were not working anymore.

“How is Mateyo?” Fridah asked.

“He’s okay. He says he is coming back in two weeks.”

“Alright!! Good for you. He has taken like forever that side…”

“Yes, and I am so impatient. Days are running slow on me.”

“And today is only Tuesday,” Fridah teased.

First floor.

“You had to get engaged to an engineer!” blurted Fridah.

“Don’t be funny, girlfriend. It will be different when he gets back.”

“Yeah, yeah. He’ll get a permanent post, you’ll get married, then go to your honeymoon. Wow! It’s great to see you grow up! I am so happy for you.”

She gave her a big hug. People stared, like they always do. They continued up the stairs.

“Thank you, dear.”

“The shy girl got hooked,” laughed Fridah, as they reached the second floor, and began their ascent to the third.

“You need to stop saying that.”

“But it’s so true! You were like the shyest, and so busy every time! I thought ‘this girl will die a spinster’! But, hey! The lovely prince came along.”

Carina smiled, although she was quite embarrassed because Fridah was talking at the top of her voice, as if announcing to the world. “Enough about me. How was your date last night?”

Third floor. Fridah was panting. She stopped to take a breath.

“I see it’s a good thing the lifts are not working,” said Carina.

“Ya right! Don’t be surprised one day if you find me fainted on the staircase.”

The The whole third floor was rented by the accountancy firm. Carina opened the door and let Fridah in first.

“Last night rocked!" Fridah said. "Tell you more later.”

They came upon the secretary’s desk and said good morning. Carina’s office was at the end of the corridor next to Fridah’s.

“See you at lunch time,” said Fridah, unlocking her office door.

“Okay,” replied Carina, also unlocking her door. “I have to hear your story.”

*
AS THE DAY rolled by, Carina mostly punched at the computer keyboard, wrote on paper, and balanced some reports that were brought in, taking them for the chief accountant’s signature.

It seemed a normal regular day, until, as lunch time approached, the door unexpectedly burst open. Anabel came in.

“Ana, what is the meaning of this? What happened to knock-before-you-enter?”

Anabel retrieved something from her handbag and tossed it angrily at Carina. It was the pink blouse Carina mentioned in the morning.

“There, you can have it!! You think you can rule over me because of the stuff you give?”

“Ana, hush. This is an office. You’re making me angry.”

“I am the one who is angry here! I am tired of your ill-treatment. You don’t care how I feel, do you?”

“What are you talking about?”

“What am I talking about? It’s always Ana don’t do that, Ana that is wrong, Ana this, Ana that! I’m tired! Can’t I live my life without you interfering?”

“Interfering? I’m doing my best to help you.” I can’t believe we are beginning this argument again, she thought.

“That’s what you keep saying, but you are making my life miserable! I am 21, third year in law school, and you still treat me like a kid…”

Someone appeared at the door – the boss, Mr. Nkole. He cleared his throat to get attention.

“Is anything the matter here, Miss Chisanga?” he asked, with one hand in the pocket.

“N-no, sir… nothing really.”

“Who are you?” he asked Anabel.

“She’s my sister,” Carina replied.

“Well, then I suggest you take your family issues home. This is your work place, Miss Chisanga, and I demand you treat it that way.”

“Yes, sir.” Carina tried to smile to balance up her emotions. “Ana, go to school now. I’ll see you at home.”

Ana brushed past the boss, and went away. The boss, after giving more mild warnings, left too. The other workmates came to peep at the open door.

“Are you ok, dear?” Fridah asked.

“Yeah, please close the door for me.”

Fridah did and everyone went back to their work.

*
THE AFTERNOON CLASS seemed to last forever. The students had to endure the most boring lecturer on campus. They were either dozing or about to, and a few weak ones were fully asleep. Mr. Kangwa talked the entire time, writing out keywords and phrases on the board. He was apparently unmoved by the conspicuous impatience of the students. As far as he saw it, he taught English Law well.

Everyone almost applauded when the class was dismissed. It was like a funeral turned into a party. People scampered towards the door, talking at the top of their voices. Desks scraped the floor and chairs toppled over. Soon, the din gradually faded as the class became empty.

Anabel decided to go straight home, even though she knew she had nothing much to do there. Her friend Grace was escorting her to the gate. Howard and Henry caught up with them.

“Hello, ladies,” said Howard.

“Hi,” they replied in unison.

Ana had a crush on Howard, which she kept secret even from Grace. Howard was smart, confident and - her favorite - funny. He had a girlfriend – Kate, one of the hottest girls on campus. Ana did not like Kate, and often wondered why a nice guy like Howard would date such a slutty, loud-mouthed, I-don’t-care-what-you-think-about-me girl like Kate.

“You know, it’s beyond me how that man keeps on talking,” said Howard.

They laughed.

“Tell me about it!”Ana replied. “I was on the brink of sleeping.”

“On the brink?” Grace exclaimed. “I was gone, girl! Wasn’t I even snoring?”

“Good thing his tests are not hard,” Henry said. He was usually a quiet guy, this Henry. He was one of those mysterious people you know nothing much about. Howard, however, was really close to him and was his best friend, if there’s such a thing among guys.

“Hope we don’t have him next year,” said Ana. “You’ve heard that this may be his last year here?”

“For real?” asked Howard. “That would rock. The fourth years are bitterly complaining that they don’t get what he says.”

“Eish, that man! I think he is too old or something,” Grace said. “He’s been teaching for too long.”

“Enough about him, I think,” suggested Ana. We keep talking about him almost every time we leave his class. “So, what is ‘H and H’ up to?”

“‘H and H’, baby,” replied Howard, “will be kicking cyber butt this evening!”

“Video games,” explained Henry.

“Oh, okay. Boys!”

“What’s that?” Howard jumped in to quickly defend his gender, but at that point his mobile phone buzzed. From the brightness that came upon his face when he picked it up, Ana could tell who it was.

“Of course I’m coming… yeah, like right now… No, don’t be quick to… Ok, ok, I’m coming.” He put the phone in his pocket and stood. “Ladies, gotta go back. Sweetheart is calling.” He was grinning. “So, I’ll see you tomorrow. Henry, you coming with me, or you still want to escort the girls?”

“Uh… I guess I’ll still go with them; we are almost by the gate. I’ll catch you up soon.”

“Sweet! Bye.” With that, he ran back into campus. Ana wished he was running to her.

When the three reached the gate, Ana got into a taxi. She waved at them and watched them turn around as the taxi began to drive off. She wondered what Henry and Grace could be possibly talking about. I mean, Grace was a jumpy character, she thrived in a world of fun and adventure. Henry, on the other hand, was like a robot on which one had to press buttons to make him do something. Anyway, it’s not that she knew much about the guy. There could be more to him than meets the eye. Some people seem to be one thing, but inside them is a vast wealth of potential, untouched potential, suppressed potential. Like me, she thought. She felt very misunderstood. She sighed, as she watched through the window the world speed past her, and the sun turn red.

*
WHEN SHE CAME home in the evening, tired form work as usual, Carina went straight to Ana’s room. She knocked twice, but no answer came. She let herself in. Ana turned off the portable CD player and sat up on the bed.

“Yes?

“Ana we have to talk.” Carina sat next to her. “What is happening to you?”

“What do you mean?” Ana was bracing herself. Rina usually starts this calm.

“You know what I mean. You have changed, and I don’t like the direction you are heading. You are no longer interested in cleanliness, you don’t do things until you are told and you suddenly start listening to crazy music.” A moment of silence. “And you hardly smile anymore.”

“I’d like to disagree with you on that one. You know what, Rina? I have been thinking. I am tired of ‘this’.” It’s been long since I had courage to stand up to her!

“This what?”

“This everything. The way things are. I cannot live like this anymore. You are controlling my life, and I don’t like that!”

“I am not controlling your life!” Carina rushed to defend herself. Maybe that’s my weakness. “What do you mean controlling?”

“Whenever I am around you, you know how I feel? I feel small, inferior, like everything about me is not good enough. It’s like all my life I have been trying to please you, and I find I rarely do.”

“You know that has never been my intention. I try to give you a life. I pay your fees, feed you, give you whatever I can. You call that ‘controlling’?”

“And the price I have to pay for all that is to cage myself, to sacrifice my freedom of choice. The true me has been suppressed by years of your tyranny.”

“Tyranny?” Carina almost laughed. What a stupid word to use, she thought.

“I want to be free to be me, without you judging me or stopping me. I need your support, but ‘no! Ana you can’t do that!’”

“You know what?” Getting stern. “You complain that I treat you like a child. I don’t. You behave like a child! Let me guess where all this is stemming from: it’s those insane childhood wishes about singing, acting, Hollywood stuff, isn’t it?”

Silence.

“Ana, I thought you outgrew that junk.”

“It’s not junk! Maybe that is what I want to do. Can I have that platform?”

“By being defiant and ungrateful for the good things around you? By being careless? By trying to make me lose my job?” My God, I need something to calm me. I am beginning to boil! “You just don’t care, do you?”

“I do! You are the one who doesn’t care about me!” She looked around for her stuffed teddy bear, something to hold. “Mom said I could be anything I want!”

What a crybaby! “Mom told me to take care of you. Isn’t that what I have been doing all these years?” She stood up. “I could have lost my job today!” That was unlikely, actually, but it helped her have a stronger argument.

“There’s something that would have made me smile!”

Carina was infuriated. She usually was at Ana. Sometimes she felt that was the best way to relate with her sibling. Sometimes she knew she overdid it.

“You know the problem with you, Ana? You fail to distinguish between fantasy and reality. I am trying to make you see the real world. This is crazy. I’m tired from work. I can’t stand here arguing pointlessly with you. You are not anything more than you already are; get that into your little head.” She started towards the door.

“My head is not little! It’s probably bigger than yours,” came the bold reply. She stood up and faced her adversary. “You know the problem with you, Rina? You fail to understand there’s more to life than ‘this’. You are stuck with the things around you. You fail to see possibility.”

“You don’t have to point those fingers at me!” Pushing her.

“You don’t have to push me.” Pushed her back.

Impulsively, Carina unleashed all her anger through her hand as she slapped it across Ana’s face. Ana tumbled back, almost losing her balance. She held her face.

Carina left the room, slamming the door behind her. She went into the bathroom, quickly took off her clothes, and let all her emotions be washed by the steamy shower. She spent quite some time in the shower.

She heard the kitchen door slam.

*
ANA HAD PACKED her guitar in its case, put on a sweater, took her purse, and left the house. It was still early evening so she could find a cab, and asked to be driven to a certain secluded park.

She was there alone. She found a concrete bench under one of the park’s lighting and sat there strumming at her guitar. A cold breeze blew. She shivered and held herself. When it passed, she continued plucking at the guitar. She remembered her mother.

An hour almost passed, she yawned and dozed. She spread herself on the bench and slept for over two hours. When she awoke, her back and neck hurt. She got up to stretch. She was still alone in the park, and it was so quiet except for the chirping of nocturnal insects. She scratched her head, sighed and sat back onto the bench, playing with her guitar.

“I know you more than you realize,” came Carina’s voice behind her. Ana quickly turned to confirm that it was not a ghost. For sure, Carina was standing there. “Can I sit with you?”

Ana just stared at her.

Carina sat next to her. “I had a feeling you’d be here. I called Grace, thinking you had gone to her home.”

Still no reply.

“It’s been two years since we last came to this bench.” It had been their Mom’s place of solitude. When she was happy or sad, accomplished, heartbroken, determined, she would come and sit at this bench. In her last days, she would bring her daughters along and lectured them on the issues of life. Even when she was gone, the two made it a habit to come to this place regularly.

Anabel still said nothing.

“I apologize for slapping you.” A memory came to Carina:

9 year old Carina was playing with her 5 year old sister in the kitchen. Carina dismissed Ana’s suggestion for a game to play as ‘boring’, suggesting that her idea was better. “Let’s play Mommy and baby. I’ll be the Mommy.” Anabel had to agree. They played cooking. Carina asked Anabel to retrieve some plates from the shelf. Being small, Ana took a stool and stood on it so that she could reach the ceramic plates. She tried to pull the one at the bottom, but two plates came plummeting past her and shattered on the floor. The real Mommy came rushing from her bedroom.
“What is happening here?” she demanded. “Ana broke the plates,” Carina reported, which aroused immediate hatred in her sibling. Mother pinched Ana hard on the cheeks. “I do not want you playing in the kitchen again, do you hear?” Carina was about to feel sorry for her crying sister when Mother pinched her too. “That’s for not watching your sister!”

“Do you accept my apology?” Carina asked.

Anabel nodded slowly. She did not want to forgive her, but then neither did she want to endure the endless apologies from her.

Carina smiled. “Thanks. You know, you can sing if you want to.”

Anabel stared incredulously at Carina.

“As long as you promise me this one thing,” Carina continued. “That you will not let it affect your studies.”

“Of course, I wouldn’t.”

“Good. I’m glad. I know I have seemed harsh, but that has been my concern. You know musicians don’t make money in this country.”

“Come on, Rina. You need to give me more credit. Haven’t I been doing well in class? Why would I jeopardize that suddenly?”

“I am the one who suggested you do law. You wanted to go to a media school or something. When you restarted this music ‘thing’ last week I was afraid you’d quit.”

“And I hated you for not letting me go. You wouldn’t sponsor me, you said. I’m in third year already at law school; I’ll just have to finish it.”

“Really? That’s good to hear. But I was so concerned that you were losing the touch of reality.”

When they were growing up, Ana always had fairy-tale fantasies and inclinations of being a princess; a musician or an actor as they grew older. She never really got over those, she always seemed to live in a dream world. Carina, on the other hand, was always the one who wanted to be in control; she knew life better as the elder sister. Almost everything Ana did was wrong. Her suggestions for games were wrong, her handwriting was wrong, the way she arranged her dolls was wrong! Carina was always trying to be the big sister.

“By the way, I fail to understand why this is such a big deal to you,” Carina said.

“Rina, have you ever had a dream, a goal that you feel, without it, there’s no purpose for you on earth? It’s like you cannot live without it, it drives you, gives you a reason to keep living. Even though it doesn’t seem to come true and you fail most of the time you try it, and you give up on it in frustration, and try to redefine yourself; but it keeps coming back and you find it’s all you want to live for! You just cannot be without it! That’s what music is for me.”

“Okaaaay,” was all Carina could say.

Anabel had realized that in trying to please Carina all these years, she had let her own wishes and feelings be suppressed. She never wanted to hurt Carina’s feelings; she had respected her judgment. She wanted to win her sister’s favor all the time.

“I understand,” said Carina. Be nice, Rina, she told herself. Be nice to your sister. “And I want to apologize if I have seemed too rough on you, really. If this is what you want, and it makes you happy, then it makes me happy too.” They hugged each other tightly.

“Thanks,” said Ana. Carina noticed the child-like sparkle in her eyes.

“You are welcome. Now let’s hear a song from you.”

“Eh? Really? You want to hear me sing?”

“Yeah. I’m serious. I have never taken time to hear you sing.”

Something is changing, Ana thought. She began to fidget. “Uh, I kind of composed this song. It’s called ‘Sunshine’. It’s not complete, been working on it for two months.”

She cleared her throat, held her guitar tightly, and started strumming. Began to sing:

“The rain is gone and the birds are singing again
The skies are clear, the dark is fading away
New life, new hope is rising
The sun is shining brightly
And all my fears are fading away.
I raise my hands to the sky
Let myself by love be taken high…

Well, that’s all I’ve done so far.”

It was lovely, Carina had to admit. “Wow! That’s sweet. Really I can say I have never heard you sing.” I’ve heard her in the bathroom, but not this way!

Carina helped her pack her guitar and carried it, and they walked together out of the park. A few buses still operated that time, so they could easily catch one home.

It was a beautiful night. The sickle moon was shining bright, and the little glittering stars ornamented the entire sky. The air was getting chilly, but it bore a message of peace.

*End of Episode 1*

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