Clever Girl

Jeez, I’m going to have to do a bunch of research to get these details right — for the moment, I’m just sort of making things up as placeholders. Might Junglee actually have been shown in Colombo in 1971? How far might young men have ridden on their motorbikes, in order to go and see it? Were there movie theaters in Kandy by then? How about Jaffna?

Why did I decide to start my novel in Sri Lanka in 1971, anyway? Just to make it ten times harder on myself? That makes sense. Clever girl.


“Jit, you should come with us!” Jitendra looked up from his textbooks to see his friends out the window, leaning on their motorbikes. Tharu called out, “We’re going down to Colombo to see Junglee at the Savoy. Featuring Shammi Kapoor, ai! Can’t be missed, machan!”

Rajiv snorted loudly. “Don’t even try. Jit’s too busy studying, such a good boy, his Amma must be so proud.” Trying to bait him, but that was just Rajiv, and Jitendra shook his head, untroubled. Someday, he’d be a famous judge, and Rajiv – well, Rajiv would probably be perfectly content whatever he ended up doing, as long as he had a pretty girl to flirt with and enough coin to buy another bottle of arrack for the table. No ambition, and good for him, but Jitendra had other plans.

“Next time,” Jitendra called back, and his friends waved back and took off, laughing. He could faintly hear Rajiv saying as he went, “You know Jit won’t come next time either, I don’t know why we bother, the man is as virtuous as the painted saints on the walls of the church…”

Jitendra shook his head, and was turning back to his book when his eye was caught by one more figure in the yard. What a figure! He’d never seen a real woman with such stunning curves, the kind you’d see on a movie poster. Her sari was simple cotton, but brilliant pink, a color so bright that it banged you on the head and left you stunned at the door, after being sure to empty every one of your pockets. His mother would never approve of such a color, but against that luscious dark skin, that single gold bangle on a slender wrist, Jitendra couldn’t imagine a more perfect composition.

The woman was no one he’d seen before, but she balanced a basket on her hip, piled high with the household’s clean folded sheets. Daughter of the woman who normally did their laundry, perhaps? Jitendra should look away – he’d spent his entire life on a certain track, one his parents wished for him, and that he’d eagerly acceded to.

At the end of that track, fame and fortune, and as pretty a bride as he wished from Kandy’s most eligible young women. Dalliances with washerwomen were strictly off limits. All he had to do was hew to the straight and narrow path, and everything he’d ever wished for would be his.

Maybe he’d been wishing for the wrong things all along? There was something to be said for curves…


24, 944 words and counting.

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