Page 45 - October 2020
P. 45

Lily gently brought a tall bamboo chair next
             to the food cabinet, and then stood on the
             chair  to  open  the  upper  level  shelf.  She
             moved  an  alumina  lunch  box  and  took  a
             one-dollar  coin  hidden  underneath.  She
             moved  like  a  cat,  quiet  and  nimble.  When
             Lily  held  the  coin  in  her  palm,  she  felt
             dazed,  as  if  struck  by  a  thunderbolt.  How
             confusing that moment was to her! It was as
             if  this  had  happened  before;  a  feeling  of
             deja  vu  (of  familiarity)  spread  throughout

             her.  Perhaps  she  took  the  coin  so  as  to
             prove she loved her little sister dearly?
             Lily  quickly  came  back  to  her  senses  and
             calmly  stepped  down  from  the  chair.  Her
             younger  sister  stared  at  her  with  big  eyes,      Finally,  Lily  arrived  home.  Her
             her usual expression when surprised.                    younger      sister    called    from
             Lily felt confused. Perhaps it was Auntie to            Ahmu’s room. Lily shut the door
             blame.  Everyday  Auntie  would  ask  her               with a loud bang and locked the
             daughter  to  put  a  one  dollar  coin                 latch.  She  poured  some  plum
             underneath  the  lunchbox  before  heading              powder  onto  her  sister’s  palm.
             for  their  farm.  Thus  she  learnt  about  the        They licked the  treat. Her sister
             [whereabouts  of]  one  dollars  coins.  Those          grinned,  licking  heartily.  She
             coins  were  to  be  used  for  emergencies  in         also  mimicked  the  way  her
             Uncle’s family.                                         younger  sister  licked  the  plum
             She  told  her  younger  sister  to  wait  in           powder.
             Ahmu’s  room  at  their  house  (note  3).  Lily        At  that  moment,  the  whole
             then ran as fast as she could, all the way to           village was quiet, except for the
             the drugstore. Upon reaching the store, she             innocent laughter of two sisters

             took deep gulps of air and panted heavily.              echoing  in  the  air.  There  was  a
             Lily raised her one dollar coin to the owner            slight  breeze.  Lily  raised  her
             and pointed at the jar of plum powder. The              head suddenly. In the mirror of
             man carefully  wrapped some plum powder                 Ahmu’s  dressing  table,  there
             in  a  paper  bag.  Without  raising  her  head,        were  two  funny,  stained  faces:
             she  grabbed  the  paper  bag  and  ran  all  the       crimson  around  the  mouths  as
             way home. She had to run. Her legs shook as             wide  as  five  centimeters,  and
             a  shaman  did  when  possessed  by  the  holy          some      plum     powder       lightly
             spirits.                                                sprinkled on their noses.
             As  she  ran  home,  the  weight  in  her  legs         For a while, Lily stared at those
             lifted;  they  felt  light.  A  question  popped  in    funny  faces  in  the  mirror.
             her  mind:  “Do  people  who  commit  crimes            Finally,  she  could  not  hold  it
             feel  lighter  afterwards?  They  lose  weight          anymore,        and     burst     into
             because they have lost a bit of self-respect?”          laughter.

             If only she had an older sister or brother to
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