Soon-ja used to keep herself covered with abaya and kurti and didn’t reveal her physique at all. For about five months, I used to maintain the same distance from her as we had before the wife-swapping experiment. At the end of the five months we went for a week’s trip to the Silver Coast, where I invited her to wear a summer dress, usually worn by country girls. I discovered that Soon-ja had never worn any bra or undies. In her childhood her mother used to stitch whatever garment she’d worn. Later, she carried the same sewing machine to Young-ho’s place and stitched all her clothes, including petticoats, chemises and underpants.
I wanted to buy at least one set of bra and undies before we could buy any dress. I wasn’t aware of her size. Online shopping, in those days, didn’t provide the facilities of virtually trying bras and undies on one’s person to ensure they would fit. I never bought these things for Hye-jin who had always preferred to buy them herself. I didn’t have a measuring tape, I used my fingers around Soon-ja’s waist and breasts and noted the dimensions in multiples of my finger-width before going to shop for her bra and undies.
I wasn’t as good a sculptor and artist as Young-ho, but I was good at engineering drawing and knew the art of papier-mâché. Whenever Soon-ja had nothing else to do except housework she was always available to me. During the time I was away at work, Soon-ja cleaned the house, washed the garments and dishes, cooked the meals of the day and kept herself ready to receive me at home.
I thought of making a statue of Soon-ja. If I thought of buying some different dress for Soon-ja, I could try on this statue and guess how Soon-ja would look with that type of dress. I used my papier-mâché tricks on her. I cut a few newspapers into strips, then I asked Soon-ja to take off her clothes and then I pasted newspaper strips around her naked body. When the strips dried I cut the mould from Soon-ja with a razor blade in reasonably large pieces and removed them from Soon-ja’s body. Of course I took enough care to ensure that the razor blade didn’t cut through her skin. Soon-ja put on her usual clothes while I joined the pieces of the mould together to get a good representation of her body. I used this mould to get a plaster of Paris model of Soon-ja’s, then I used my contacts with a local foundry to prepare a mould from the plaster of Paris model, into which molten iron was cast to make a headless cast-iron statue of Soon-ja.
I bought a metallic girl’s head from an antique fashion shop and fitted that head onto the cast-iron statue. The head was a copy of Venus, the Roman goddess of love and beauty. This cast-iron statue was kept near the walk-in wardrobe of Soon-ja’s bedroom. Whenever we thought of buying a new dress for her, I bought the dress and tried it on this statue before trying it on her.
I wasn’t prepared when I had my first intercourse with Soon-ja. I hadn’t thought about it when, one day, we were listening to a devotional song that kindled the dream to become simple and naturally available just like other gifts of Nature—like air to let you breath; like water to quench your thirst; like trees to offer you shade. I never realised I was so close to Soon-ja, ready to give myself. Soon-ja couldn’t realise she was ready to offer the best gift to me—herself.
I held Soon-ja close to my chest and made her sit on my lap. We felt the boundaries had disappeared between my body and hers. Before I could realise what I was up to, we made love. I suddenly realised that Soon-ja was a virgin. I became curious about her virginity, and she told me that her parents betrothed her to an old man when she was underage. Young-ho interfered to stop the underage wedding and escorted her. Later, Young-ho married her but still treated her as a baby, whom he wanted to protect.
When we returned from the Silver Coast, she was tested to be pregnant. At the end of the year, when Young-ho was supposed to return to her, Soon-ja was pregnant for seven months. Young-ho made no drama about it, but gracefully accepted his pregnant wife Soon-ja. Previously he had wanted to know more of pregnant Min-ji; now he had plenty to discover from pregnant Soon-ja.
While moving from Soon-ja’s house back to Hye-jin’s place, I packed my paraphernalia and I also took the cast-iron statue of the naked girl from Soon-ja’s wardrobe. At the centre of the garden at Hye-jin’s place, I installed a fountain and circular fence around it. The cast-iron statue was placed in the centre of the circular fence and water from the fountain flowed over the naked girl. While Hye-jin’s and my guests appreciated the artwork, prepared by me, no-one asked about the lady portrayed in the statue. Some connoisseurs guessed I might have copied Duval La Naissance. After Young-ho returned to his place, Soon-ja again hid behind her tent-like frocks. No-one could guess any similarity of her appearance with that of the cast-iron statue. Soon-ja herself considered the statue as her undisclosed gift to me while she was rearing my generous gift in her own body.
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