The sister we’d never heard of came to the funeral, came to the house to clear it, to take away my memories with those artefacts that so enthralled me—the huge, heavy silver dressing-table set, the ‘giant’s tea-cup’ from under the bed.
I discovered that by accident years before when I was prowling around Zonya’s bedroom when I was bored with the grown-ups talking. I never found out where the saucer was. We were kindred spirits, Zonya and I, we believed in fairies, yes, and giants too.
‘It was all lies,’ said the bitter and twisted sister. ‘She made it all up. She never went nowhere, she was nothing, she was ordinary. She never went to Singapore.’
I was sadder than ever. Not only had my Auntie Zonya died, but now all those beautiful dreams and stories—they had died too. And if Zonya was really only Doris, the baker’s daughter, then what did that make me?
…who else in boring old Tunbridge Wells used spices and soy sauce and made Chinese food for dinner in the early 1960s? How many other pensioners could still stand on the points of their toes or raise their feet to ear-level? If the silver wasn’t hers, if the heavy seal-ring wasn’t hers—where did it come from?
And what about the time she embarrassed us all in a restaurant by ordering everything in Cantonese? We didn’t make that up. That wasn’t a dream.
And finally, with my experience in family tree research, now I have her marriage certificate, right here in front of me. He was Irish! He was called Patrick! He was almost ten years older than her and actually, yes, he did work for the Government.
Was her bitter sister just jealous? After all that time? Even after Zonya had died?
And, yes—her name really was Doris.