Easter was the best time of the year for me. Not because of the various grandiloquent religious celebrations, but despite them. I was terrified of the movies that my mother made us watch every year showing the Calvary and Jesus Christ crucified, a crown of sharp thorns perforating his head and nails through his dying body, bleeding little by little, until his last agonizing breath. Suffering, to Catholics, was a spectacle to be ostentatiously displayed and cultivated. But its violence terrified impressionable little girls like me. Besides, if it was true that Jesus had died for us, he made me feel guilty of my sins and certain of my evil. Other than that, during Easter, us children took time off school, played around, and ate chocolate eggs until we got sick.
I was so excited I couldn’t contain myself: I decided I was going to wait up for the Bunny’s visit that night. I loved the Easter Bunny — he was cute, playful, and was not expected to scold you for not having been a good girl, like Santa Claus. Unlike Santa, we never saw the Bunny anywhere except in books but we were told he would sneak in our houses at night and fill our Easter baskets with goodies that I absolutely treasured (and protected, tooth and nail, from my brothers’ greedy hands) like gold.
The Easter basket was a feast for the eyes that never failed to dazzle: we would wake up to multi colored chocolate eggs and other mouth-watering delicacies. My brothers and I would lay our bounties on the floor and trade our favorite candies. The ones that I preferred were the nhá-bentas (chocolate coated marshmallow treats) presented in glossy boxes and several small hard fruit candies that I loved to stick into my mouth until my cheeks hurt and then suck on ever so slowly. But the star of the party was the one large chocolate egg. It was quite extravagant and came wrapped in shiny foil wrappers and cellophane tied with satin ribbons. Inside the egg, there were delicious bonbons filled with raspberry ganache, almond butter or caramel. The bigger the egg, the better your parents loved you, I equated. So I always prayed that I would get really large ones, as big as footballs, which I would save and savor a little every day for weeks.
Around midnight, I heard the door open slowly and from a small hole that I had improvised with the corners of my blanket I expected to spot the Bunny. But whaaaat? I gasped, covering my mouth, it was my Mom gently tiptoeing into the room! Silently, I spied her carefully arrange the treats in my basket and leave my room. It was a bit sad to find out that Easter Bunnies were in fact good-hearted moms but I admit that I had already toyed with that hypothesis. Never mind, I thought, getting up, my sweet tooth speaking louder than my recently lost innocence: I had a ravishing whole Easter basket to explore. The goodies did not disappoint. I inspected every single precious one and finally grabbed the big prize, my beautiful and shiny oversized egg. To my horror, I found a crack to the otherwise immaculate chocolate egg. Mom must have dropped it, I figured. I felt horrified; no one should have a cracked Easter egg! I waited until I was sure Mom had retired to her room. I went back to bed but could not fall asleep. Suddenly, I had an idea: I could exchange my egg with my older brother’s, if his did not have any cracks, that is. I tiptoed into his room and confirmed that his egg was intact. Without beating an eyelash, I swapped the eggs and never looked back.
Why did Mom give me the cracked egg? There was no question she had seen it was cracked so she had had to make a choice and, instead of giving it to one of my brothers, she chose me. The cracked egg became symbolical of my cracked relationship with my mother and what I represented to her. I was the only girl growing up with three brothers. I learned that day that men were always favored, because they would carry the family name and whatever tradition they thought the family had. Girls were merely passive recipients. Except I was not, as I proved to myself at four years of age that night. I still feel proud of myself for doing what I did.