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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Tour de France - Part XII


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Carinne peered through her tiny bedroom window. The brown-skinned girl with black glasses and long black braids skipped past again. She waved. The girl waved back, not missing a step as she went out into the street.
Does she speak French, Carinne wondered." I might like to play with her, if she does. It’s getting boring visiting Grand-pere and Grand-mere with no other children to play with. Maybe I’ll even show her my new Barbie camper". (or maybe it isn’t brand-new, coming from Cousine Claudette who left it the last time she visited and never bothered to take it back.)
The afternoon faded into evening, with the last bits of sunlight glinting on the apartment windows across the lane. Carinne came up to her room after an early dinner, spent watching her grandparents make small talk over a dinner of bread and bifteck. Her grandfather was the owner of a little bakery on Rue de LaRochefoucauld, assisted by a young apprentice in the back rooms, while his wife tended to the patrons who stopped by for their morning fresh baguettes and croissants.
When would Maman come back and take her back home? Why did she need to go on these long trips, leaving her with Grandmere and Grandpere? Questions, questions…no answers.
The little brown girl was wheeling her bicycle back down the driveway from the courtyard over the garages. She didn’t look up to see Carinne watching. Doesn’t she have anyone to play with? Is she lonely like me, mused Carinne. Maybe I will try talking to her if I see her out tomorrow.
The next day, no sign of the girl. Nor the next. Carinne began to think someone had placed a curse upon her, like the evil bewitchment that falls upon La Belle aux Bois Dormant (‘Sleeping Beauty’). The little brown girl must have moved away. None of the other kids came out to play, the weather was as gray as ever as she slid open her curtains every morning. No word from Maman, either.
A week later, she looked out in the late afternoon out of sheer habit. And there went the little brown girl again, skipping down the driveway and the lane, red ribbons on braid ends dancing.
She opened her window and called out.
“I’m Carinne. What’s your name?”
The girl stopped in her tracks. “ Sujatha.”, she replied.
“Sud-ja- ta”, enunciated Carinne, uncertainly, trying it on for size and deciding she wasn’t sure if she liked it. “Where do you come from?”
India.”
“Would you like to play with me in the courtyard after you get back from the marche? I have a new Barbie camper we could share”
“ And I have a new Barbie, with two extra outfits! My father bought it for me when we were in Andorra last week on a driving tour of France” Suji exclaimed. “I’ll go and get it after I’m done with my errands.”
Sure enough, that is just what she did. They had many good times playing together, till Maman came to take Carinne home a few weeks later, at summer's end.

2 comments:

Lekhni said...

How did I miss reading this one?

Did Carinne stay in touch afterwards?

Sujatha said...

No, I never saw her again. We moved to a new apartment the next year. But she still lives on in a life separate from my memories, I guess.