Swapped

By: Azzahra Maulia Risanda

A childhood like Amir and Mira’s was never easy. Being identical boy-and-girl twins with very busy parents, they don’t really have anyone to share their feelings and thoughts within the house besides each other. It made them grow up as pretty private people since they were kids; not having the courage to tell stories and open up to other people, including their own parents. That was also why this story was written; to tell you about the twins and the problem they faced in their early phase of life together – just the two of them.

It all began when Ali, their older cousin, visited them during a school’s break. Ali was thirteen then; handsome, young, and entering the teenage phase of his life with childish pride. He was not that interested in kids, but since his mother – who was Amir and Mira’s mother’s sister and was worried about the twins’ wellbeing – told him that he’d get extra monthly allowance for looking after the kids, he couldn’t refuse the offer to babysit those little twins for a mere single day. The twins’ parents were away for business, and those two were too often left with a babysitter that grew eventually tired of looking after the two sometimes-too-active kids.

When Ali arrived, he was told that the twins were playing in the backyard. He then followed the babysitter’s lead and found the kids sitting by the tree. His firstly put his gaze on Mira, who was in a nearer position to him than Amir. He then sat beside the little girl and tried to start a conversation in a child-friendly way. “Mira, what are you making?”

“A chocolate cake,” Mira answered calmly as she molded soil in her hands.

“That looks good,” Ali complimented, and the little girl smiled.Amir stared at his Uncle, that at his sister in disagreement. “It doesn’t even look like a cake! You should put something on it so that it looks delicious.”

Ali’s attention then was drawn to Amir. “And what are you doing, Amir?”

“I’m cooking, too,brother! See? I’m making a salad with a drizzle of olive oil,” little Amir answered excitedly as he pointed at his toy saucepan, leaves that he collected in the backyard, and a bit of water. He was immensely proud of his creation, expecting a compliment like what Mira got when she made her silly soil cakes. To his surprise, Ali shook his head in dissatisfaction, leaving the little boy confused.

“Brother? What’s wrong?”

“Oh, well. Boys don’t play as cooks, Amir.”

“But I like to cook.”

“But that’s against what’s meant to be.”

“Meant to be?” the little boy tilted his head, his mind even more confused than he was before he even asked. The teenage boy sighed. “You should just go to the field and play soccer with the other boys. That’s what you should be doing, boy.”

“But I—“

Just when Amir was about to give his response, Ali turned back to Mira and saw that little girl standing up in a hurry. “Mira, where are you going?”

“I want to play soccer at the field with Ahmed and the others!” the little girl said with excitement.

Ali laughed, and then once again shook his head. “You two should definitely be swapped!”

“Swapped?”

“Didn’t Mom and Dad tell you? Amir, you should be playing soccer and Mira, you should just continue playing as a cook with the other girls around.”

“But why..?” this time, it’s Mira’s turn to be even more confused.

“Told you, because that’s how it’s meant to be.” Ali answered in his self-absorbed, know-it-all fashion. “Girls cook and do all the housework, boys do sports and work for money.”

Before the little girl could ask another question, Ali proceeded to pick up his phone and chattedwith his friend online, leaving the little girl’s head buzzing with unanswered questions.Amir, on the other hand, was still as puzzled as his twin was. Lost in their own minds, they decided not to talk to each other about it. It remained that way for years and they decided to forget the interests they once had when they were younger.

Everything changed when they turned ten and became a fifth grader in primary school. Due to their parents’ request, they were always placed in separate classes so that they can be able to open up to people other than each other. That really did help them develop and be able to actually make friends in class.

“We can now join clubs!” one of Amir’s friends, Samuel, spoke in excitement.

“Club? What club?” Amir questioned.

“Well, clubs! Like, you know, the soccer club… badminton club…”

“Ah, only sports?” Amir said, this time in disinterest.

“Well, no. You know, there’s also a junior cooking and baking class…”

Sofia, another classmate, joined the conversation happily. “Yes! I’m going to join it with Ellen and Anne.”

Amir decided not to speak a word. Deep down he had been having a natural interest in cooking since he was younger, but brotherAli’s words kept him from revealing it. He was too afraid that people would label him as weird, and that was the last thing he’d want other people to see him as.

On the other hand, Mira was facing a similar dilemma. She spotted her friends being all excited about the cooking class, the weaving class, and all kinds of activities that are considered as things that girls are supposed to like. But it didn’t spark any bit of her interest, at least at that moment. All she wanted to do was play soccer, running through the spacious field while keeping the ball near her foot, and then finally strike a goal. She absolutely loved sports, but just like her twin, Ali’s words kept on haunting her and that was why she kept her mouth shut.

When the twins finally got picked up by their driver and arrived home safely, they finally decided to talk about the matter.

“I really want to play soccer,” Mira confessed.

“And I really want to cook and bake!” Amir replied.

“Why don’t we just try to join those clubs?”

“Silly, people will see us the same way brother Ali saw us. They’ll think we’re weird, and… what did he say? Oh, swapped.”

“Swapped?”

“Yeah, he told us that we should be swapped, didn’t he—“

“A HA!”All of a sudden Mira shouted while pointing a finger, her eyes glistened as her lips parted as it formed a smile, looking the happiest that she’d ever been. If it were a cartoon, she’d have a bulb popping on her head as a sign that she just discovered the best idea ever. “That’s it! Why don’t we just… swap?”

“I really don’t get it. Swap how?”

“Well, you can pretend to be me, and I can pretend to be you, then we can come to the clubs!”

Amir stood silent for a moment. “Does that mean that we’ll have to wear each other’s clothes?”

“Well, yes. Wear my veil. No one would realize that it’s you.”

“That’s crazy,” Amir murmured.“Really. That’s simply crazy.”

“Just this once, please?” Mira pleaded. “I’ve been dying to do the thing I loved. Haven’t you?”

After what felt like an eternity, Amir finally nodded. “Let’s do it, then, just this once.”

***

Class was over at 1 P.M., and the clubs would begin in 30 minutes. Amir and Mira quickly prepared for their swapping. They separated ways and changed their clothes in empty rooms they could find. Amir, pretending as Mira, wore a long-sleeved t-shirt and a skirt. He then tried to wear Mira’s veil just like how his twin taught him. It was pretty difficult but he succeeded. He then got out of the room and went to the room used for the cooking class, being more nervous than he has ever been. There were a few tables with some simple ingredients on it and an oven. No one was there yet, and he tried his best to calm down and pretend that he was Mira.

“Hey!”

Amir almost jumped when someone suddenly touched his shoulder. He looked behind him and found Sofia there, along with Ellen and Anne. The girl looked at him in shock, making him palms sweaty. “She looks exactly like Amir!”

“Well, of course, silly! Amir’s got a twin in another class. Mira, right?” Anne smiled while she offered her hand. Amir smiled in relief and shook the girl’s hand. “Yeah, I’m Mira! And you?”

“Anne!” the girl smiled sweetly. Deep down Amir was grateful for the girl’s presence. If it weren’t for her presence, he would’ve blown his covered the second Sofia noticed him.

Sofia finally apologized. “So sorry if I surprised you! I’m Sofia, and this is Ellen. You really do look like Amir, though, your face and the way you talked.”

“Nice to meet you two.Really?” Amir replied shortly, afraid that they’d notice his made-up girly tone.

“Stop that, Sofia! You terrified her. Let’s just wait for Miss Baker to come!” Anne spoke, unconsciously rescuing Amir and his cover once again.

On the other side of the story, Mira was doing her cover in the best possible way. She wore Amir’s clothes, tied her hair, and then hid the ponytail inside of the cap she wore. It made her look as if she had a short hair, and definitely made it difficult for people to tell that it was Mira, not Amir. She then walked into the soccer field with confidence. Some of the boys – which she assumed as Amir’s classmates – welcomed her excitedly.

“Amir! I didn’t know that you would join us.”

“Well, I just felt like it,” Mira answered calmly, mimicking her twin’s way of talking. The boys’ reaction made her conclude that she was doing just fine.

“That’s nice, bro! Why are you wearing that cap, though?”

Mira was about to stutter, but then she successfully gained control to herself. “Told you, I just felt like it!” she remarked, and the boys laughed. It made her finally be able to quietly sigh in relief when they all looked away.

They then started to do the warming up, and Mira followed them easily. She’d been getting the best scores in sports class, after all. Minutes later, she was already in the middle of the field, dribbling the ball with her feet and passing it to her teammates. She was really good at it that many people were surprised, since Amir himself was never that good in soccer.

Back to Amir, he was happily busying himself with a cake batter when the door creaked open. He looked outside and to his surprise; a group of boys came in and asked for the teacher’s permission to join in the class. The teacher smiled and nodded, while Amir’s jaw dropped, being even more confused than before. One boy took a place beside him and greeted him with his twin’s name, so he assumed that it was Mira’s classmate. Trying to look as friendly as possible despite not knowing his name, Amir asked, “Why are you taking this class?”

“Well, because my Dad’s a chef and I want to be like him,” the boy answered innocently.

“Really? But don’t you think that cooking is for girls?”

The boy looked confused. “In the restaurant where my father worked, the chefs are men and women.”

“…Then why am I doing this?”

“What?”

Just when Amir thought that his act of disguising is actually useless, Mira’s run out of her luck, too.

“Amir, I can’t believe it! You’re secretly talented!” shouted Samuel as he patted Mira’s shoulder. Too exhausted of the game, Mira simply responded with a smile before she managed to drink another bottle of mineral water. Another boy, George, also commented on her performance. “Yeah, you’re great! What’s gotten into you all of a sudden?”

“Well, I told you that I—“

“Is this cap some kind of your lucky charm?” George continued as he touched the cap on her head. Mira panicked and tried to get his hand off it, but it was too late – the cap was successfully taken off her head, revealing her fallen ponytail. For a second, Mira felt the world had suddenly revolved around her; attentions were fully paid on her, mouths were agape as soon as the eyes had seen her. The boy remained silent –too shocked to actually comprehend what he had seen – while the other boys were the first to react.

“HE’S GOT LONG HAIR! How could he?!”

“Wait, are you… Mira?! How could you?!”

“It’s not Amir?!”

After a few minutes that felt like an eternity, Amir and the participants of the cooking and baking class were now the ones standing with mouth agape when the soccer coach brought Mira into the cooking class. Everyone stared at Amir in shock, puzzled of the two Miras they were seeing in one room. After the coach exchanged a few words with Miss Baker, Amir finally had to shamefully walked to the door and alongside with Mira, the two of them were brought to the principals’ room. On the way there, Amir quietly released his veil, revealing his short hair alongside with his identity. Lucky them, the corridors were pretty lonesome, which meant one of the most embarrassing moments of their lives weren’t witnessed by any more people.

Long story short, their parents – who were currently not as busy as they usually were – arrived at school and joined in an ‘interrogation’ session of their twins. There, the twins confessed that they wanted to follow their passions, but was afraid to do so because of what society might think. Amir confessed that he felt silly when he finally discovered that nowadays, cooking wasn’t really a girl’s thing, while Mira said that she was worried if the boys would allow her join the match next time.

“Ali was clearly at fault. You don’t have to listen to what other people think, just be yourselves,” Mom advised, followed by the nods of Dad and the Principal. “Being a chef is not merely a girl’s occupation. When we arrive home, we’ll watch cooking videos by male chefs and I’ll teach you cook, okay?” Amir smiled.

“While Mira,” the Principal spoke, “Don’t worry, we’re going to open a soccer club for girls. You know, a woman soccer competition does exist! No need to worry, dear. I’ll make sure that the boys want to play with you, if that’s what you want.” This time, it was Mira’s turn to smile in relief.

In the end, with the support of their parents and positive feedback from their school’s environment, the twins could finally happily pursue their own passion. Time flies and all of a sudden, they’re already in their 20s. Amir is currently planning his own restaurant and planned his own menu, experimenting new recipes every now and then. Mira decided to follow her passion in sports and fitness and became a successful fitness trainer. While Ali, well, he was scolded by the twins’ parents along with his own for planting bad stereotypes in his cousins’ mind. No one knew what he had become, but as long as he was no longer acting like a know-it-all, there was nothing else of his being to worry about.

THE END