Sunday, 10 March 2013
March 11th 2013
A HANDKERCHIEF IN THE RICE PADDIES
Well, gooday. I've been thinking --- and have come up with the conclusion that perhaps you might like a story. Because as you know, I write stories- historical based stories, Chinese based stories. Long ones, like Memories in the Bone, now out on IUniverse.com, Amazon or if you are in New Zealand you can email me and get a copy.
But I also write short stories and even though the shortest is a mere 1500 words, it's too long to put one in a weekly blog. I mean, you've got to actually curly up in your sofa to read it, wouldn't you?
So now, I think I shall split up a story into 300 word sections, week by week. This week I shall begin with A HANDKERCHIEF IN THE RICE PADDIES which I have set in Malaysia circa 1950s. So here is the first part.
A Handkerchief in the Rice Paddies
I was seven the day my lover and nemesis walked into my life. I stood on the veranda watching him alight from the flatbed of the rusty old truck, a skinny gangly boy straight from the country. He pulled a brown wicker basket down after him and then a black bicycle followed. Grandma went out to meet him, calling out to Mama that Swee had arrived.
By the time Mama emerged from the bathroom, Swee and Grandma had ascended the steps. He lugged the wicker basket as she chattered happily; the bike was left resting on its side against the railing, for the time being, unimportant to matters at hand.
He was quite handsome, I decided there and then -- comparing him to Roy Rogers, my heart throb. His hair was slicked back, lacquered on but with a little puff at the front just above the brow, and his short-sleeved grey shirt hung loose over his khaki shorts which stopped at his knees. He was deeply tanned, like someone who worked in the fields -- not a good colour I thought, as my childish estimation of masculine good looks -- Roy Rogers, was pale. But when he smiled at me, “Hello, Lingling,” his teeth gleamed white and part of the battle was won.
The previous day Mother had explained that the son of her foster brother was coming to live with us to go to a good town school.
“Does that mean for a very long time?” I had asked.
“Yes, a very long time, as long a time as you are old now.”
That was beyond my understanding.
It took no time at all it seemed, for him to become part of the household. He was two years older than the other boys in the mission school as his country education was rated below the level for his age. If it bothered him, he didn’t show it. At home he did nothing to upset Grandma’s equilibrium, nothing to bring out the hot temper that I well knew was brimming under the surface of her controlled demeanour.
After a few days, he asked, “Would you like me to help you with your homework, Lingling?”
“Please!” I whooped, and made room for him beside me at the dining room table.
One day he returned from the post office with a wad of money. “My father’s just sent me my allowance,” he said, “shall we go to the pictures tomorrow? You like Roy Rogers, his newest film has just started at the Hollywood cinema.”
He bicycled out, with me sitting on the front bar, to the first of our regular Saturday afternoon matinees to see Roy Rogers or whichever cowboy displaying their prowess with lassoos and horses. After, we stopped for noodles at hawker stands on the way home.
In my childish imagination, I was Dale Evans to his Roy Rogers, riding on two-wheeled Trigger. I was too young and unquestioning to wonder why a boy of thirteen would be interested in me, a seven year old girl. It did not occur to me to be flattered by his attention. I simply loved it all and Saturday afternoons were the highlight of my week.
Our house was close to some paddy fields, which were drained at harvest time and allowed to fallow before the next crop was planted. Swee and I spent ages there most days between homework and dinner. We would lie down on the field with golden stalks shielding us, munching something, giggling, tickling each other, talking -- I can’t remember what about precisely; though the smell of the sun-dried paddies in the warm evenings remain with me still. But I do remember feeling very happy, safe and content with him.
to be continued.