She knew there was no turning back. In the deep darkness of the night, in the roughness of the breakwater's wall, in the deafening crash of waves, in the strength of his embrace… There was no comforting detail, and her heart pounded like the drumbeat of a tribal war. This was a war for her, and the walls all around her were falling to dust. She took one long, deep breath, kissed the love of her life, and surrendered.
Light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul. Lo… Lee… Ta.–Humbert Humbert, from Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Who is Lolita?
Hearing the name Lolita immediately calls to mind that one word: Precocious.
Merriam-Webster defines “precocious” as:
1 : exceptionally early in development or occurrence <precocious puberty>
2 : exhibiting mature qualities at an unusually early age <a precocious child>
Lolita is the name of the precocious girl in Vladimir Nabokov’s novel, aptly entitled with her name. Her youth and flirtatiousness ensnares the poor old bloke Humbert Humbert, who goes as far as marrying Lolita’s mother just to be close to Lolita. Humbert becomes so obsessed and possessive of Lolita, while on the other hand, she continues to act carefree and untethered. In the end, Humbert nt only loses Lolita but his sanity, and the two souls are ruined one way or another.
Is Lolita then a younger, modern version of Eve? Is she the new downfall of men? The new temptation? Is she the new forbidden fruit? Will her juvenile wiles bring down to their knees the most powerful men, as she did Humbert Humbert?
Or is she just a girl who happened to be precocious? And with that, taken advantage of?
The negative connotation of the name Lolita, with all the taboo connected to it, all the perversion as well, points to the negative connotation of precocious. Precocious and promiscuous indeed sound alike. But are they the same?
When I was a little girl, I knew immediately that I thought differently. I felt differently towards things. I saw differently the events around me. I would say that I was, well, precocious.
It’s not that I was flirtatious. I was shy and quiet alright. But there seemed in me an innate understanding of things sexual. A wordless comprehension. An undeniable intuition.
I could sense things sexual without knowing what sex was.
I remember clearly the very first time I had an inkling f the carnal.
I had stumbled upon my cousin’s collection of local comics, which he kept in a drawer under the living room sofa. Curious, and eager to exercise my newly learned skill of reading, I opened one comic.
The first page showed a series of frames showing a woman in a forest, in the rain. She was wearing a cloak and limped. The next page showed that she had chanced upon a house and was welcomed by the dweller, a man who had a scar on his face. The last page of the series showed the man kneeling before the woman as she sat on a chair. His hand raised the hem of her cloak up to her thigh and, upon seeing the wound of a snake bite, clamped down on it with his mouth.
I knew why he did that–to get the poison out. And yet, I simply understood that something else was happening. It was not a simple, innocent act. That inkling rose inside me like a warm gush of air, and I was moved. Something had moved inside me. That was the moment I knew: I was prematurely mature.
Did I grow up to become promiscuous? Well, no. Compared to my peers, I was actually a wallflower and a latebloomer.
But of course, sexuality is hardly all about the physical act.
That’s simply where all confessions begin.