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Friday, September 12, 2008

Tour de France - Part VIII

It was on one of the walks that Suji got an impromptu invitation to visit Pilar’s house, located practically next to the park. Pilar was flaxen-haired and pale, the daughter of a British diplomat, but it was rumored that her mother was Spanish, thus explaining the strangeness of her name.

Suji liked Pilar. She was kind and never teased her, like the other kids did. She chatted with her amicably on the playground even as others ignored her. Pilar was an only child, and didn’t hesitate to occasionally boss Suji around like the younger sibling that she never had. Suji had somewhere along the line, picked up the bad habit of punctuating her descriptions with the word ‘damn’ and ‘damned’. Pilar frowned “You shouldn’t be saying that word. It’s a bad word.” Suji was nonplussed- Pilar of all people, saying that the word ‘damn’ was bad. She resolved in a hurry to never use it again.

Suji was agog with curiosity at this unexpected invitation to Pilar's house. This was the first unknown house that she was visiting, apart from the tiny apartments of a few family friends. What wonders might she see?

The interior of the house was dark and cool despite the blazing brightness outside. The girls clustered in a group in the drawing room, talking nineteen to the dozen. Suji looked around with curiosity - Dare she explore while the others in the group were preoccupied with their chatter?

She tiptoed into the unlit dining room, the table set with silverware and service and a luscious looking trifle topped by a pale green berry, glistening alluringly. Suji looked around at the sideboard and buffet, but her eyes kept wandering back to the trifle. The green berry beckoned to her, catching the solitary ray of light penetrating the blinds.

With a swift movement, she stepped forward to the table, picked the berry up and popped it into her mouth, moving hurriedly away from the scene of the crime. She bit down on the berry, and let out a little yelp. It was horrendously bitter. Her teeth came down on the hard pit with a sickening crunch. She spat out the mangled remnants into a pocket tissue, crumpled the mess into her coat pocket and slunk out of the room. Who knew that a close encounter with a gourmet variety of green olive would turn out so badly?

There were no more invitations to Pilar's house after that. Pilar moved away soon, off again to a destination unknown as her diplomat father was transferred to another embassy.

5 comments:

Lekhni said...

Suji didn't get caught, right? Biting into a green olive would have been bad enough :(

The things children will do :)

Sujatha said...

Nope, not caught. I doubt if they even figured out why the olive vanished. But it's definitely an incident that haunts her to this day, even as she sees jars and jars of green olives on the supermarket shelves. She eats black olives with gusto, and is not enthusiastic about the green ones, for some reason;)

Ms Cris said...

Thats sad. Maybe she will run into Pilar some day and share the Olive story with her. Soon.

Amit said...

Sujatha, are there autobiographical elements in this story? :)

Sujatha said...

Amit,

You seriously need to check out the other parts of this ongoing series! It's all autobiographical :)