The First Date With China

Since that first chance meeting with China and our encounters thereafter, her mysterious ways kept me fascinated. To just hear her speak in West Indian, however, would be the deciding factor that made me fall in love with her and, ultimately, make her my first wife. It was a rare novelty and contrast to me, and I guess to everybody who met her, to hear West Indian English coming out of the mouth of this gorgeous little young Chinese looking girl.

Although I was still in school and we were seeing each other regularly, I still only knew her as China (Cheena). I knew nothing about her, not even her surname but, she seemed to know all of my movements as she would wait for me in her secretive way after classes intercepting me before I’d reach home. This, to say the least, flattered me and I felt like I was on top of a mountain. I inevitably became accustomed to her appearances at school to wait for me, this beautiful, young, glamorous looking Chinese girl.

I kept telling myself that she was waiting just to see me, just to be with her. I was also enjoying the fact that some of the men neighbors around where I lived had started noticing us; even some of them whom I really didn’t know had started spying on us when we’d linger on the stairway of the my apartment building conversing. So far we were still finding things out about each other without my having met her parents.

One evening after choir practice, and before she said the last goodbye she decided to announce her final “I have to go home!” She casually said to me, “Hey Juni, I want you to take me to a movie at the movie theater in Colon.” My immediate reaction was fear. “Girl you know I’m not working as yet, not even for my meals,” I said. “Don’t worry,” she said rather carelessly, “I have money. I just want you to go with me, that’s all.”

Without answering her I then tried to discourage her from leaving but she remained insistent, acting like a baby girl who usually got her way in everything in life that she wanted. This attitude prompted me to reconsider and tell her “OK, yes we´ll go to a movie.” I didn’t even care what the movie was all about that she had been so determined to see. So that I continued to sound positive. “When are we going, love?” I said, still fearful that I had not met her relatives yet. “We can go on Thursday,” she said, and she disappeared under the dim light that bathed the stairway. As I turned to go upstairs I became thoughtful over that date and how it was still Tuesday night. I really didn’t want to be seen by everyone in our group at the movies at the Silver Canal Zone clubhouse with this exotic girl.

Thursday soon arrived, however, and I made every effort to gain my mother’s approval. At six o’clock I announced suddenly to my sister and my mother that I was going out to a movie. “So you have a date?” said my mother, and I noticed that my sister Aminta had this sly smile on her face. Then my mother said, “Take off that ugly shirt!” I fearfully replied, “But, Rosa I`m just going to see a movie, nothing more than that.” My sister Aminta kept smiling like she knew something that I didn’t. “Put this on!” said my mother. My eyes, however, couldn’t mask my surprise at what my mother handed. It was a handsome Guayabera shirt, designed and sewn by my mother. She looked at me with such pride that she herself had actually become a fashions designer and I was going to be one of her models she was sending out to a very important runway exhibition.

Days later they would tell me how they had found out about my romance with China and how we were in love. Aminta and China, it turned out,were friends from long ago, which I didn’t know. Since that time I discovered many things about my encounters with the chinita and that unknown to me she had been doing everything in her power to meet me. I discovered that night of our first date that the film we were about to see was based on the story of an American soldier and his beloved Carmen Jones, a prostitute who was after that handsome G.I. The characters, it seemed especially to China, all resembled us. We didn’t exactly know it then but, the future of our relationship would also resemble the ill-fated lovers in its painful and destructive conclusion.

This story continues.

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