Friday, 1 August 2014

DAISY VILLA


The church bell tolled thrice on a lazy afternoon at Sarzora, surprising the lone crow perched upon the ornate Iron Gate. Ambrose sat outside the cemetery, leaning against the moss covered compound wall unaffected by the crowd in black pouring out of the entrance. He freed the cloth tied around his balding head and wiped off the sweat trickling down his neck, now staring at the woman wearing a large black veiled hat. He was amused by her act of lifting the veil to dab away the tears escaping her droopy eyes, making sure that her fake eyelashes do not come off in the process. Must be the wife of the man whose grave I dug, he thought.

“Have you no shame, staring at women like that? Ambrose, are you deaf?”

Startled by this unexpected interruption, Ambrose looked up at the man wearing a white clergy robe bending down upon him. Why, of course, it was the fat priest of the Church. “A man like me can only afford such entertainments. Why father? You don’t like looking at women? Oh I forgot, you are a proud celibate.” Ambrose replied, squinting to escape the violent sun rays toying with his eyes. The priest wasn’t new to his verbal diarrhea. Calming his rising anger by squeezing the rosary in his palm, he replied “Here is your two hundred rupees. Even a baboon has more decency than you. Now leave!”. Ambrose stood up, intimidated by the composed stance of the priest but hid it soon with a sneer. “I heard that Mr. Dias from the house near the village hospital is on ventilator. He will die, no father? I will be right here waiting.” Ambrose said pointing at the ground “Call no one else but me to dig his hole. Two hundred rupees yeah? ”. The priest could do nothing but shake his head as Ambrose snatched the money from between his fingers and walked away humming an old Goan tune.

Daisy Villa was a hut. A dwarf of a house with just one room and a veranda, the right side of which was transformed into a makeshift kitchen. But for Ambrose, this small dwelling was a villa and he made sure everyone called it so by hanging an old Aluminium plate reading ‘DAISY VILLA’ on the barbed fence. Daisy, his mother, sat near the kerosene stove and was clearly agitated by its uselessness. She jolted as Ambrose dropped a black smelly plastic bag beside her.

“Old woman, I bought some fine prawns. There is a coconut left, yeah? Make my favourite prawns cooked in coconut milk tonight, yeah?”.

Daisy cocked her head as she said “Prawns? You wasted all that money on prawns? What about some kerosene to light this bloody stove! Ambrose, you need a woman to set you straight. You are 41 without a wife.”

Oh, how Ambrose loved to see her eyes blazing. She was all he had and all he would ever need. He cupped her pale face between his palms and blew her a kiss.

“Mr.Dias is dying tonight. I will visit the village hospital tonight to know for sure. This means I will be digging his grave tomorrow. The priest would give me two hundred rupees and I will get your bloody kerosene, yeah? And no! I don’t want a wife. I like this life of you and me.” Ambrose smiles on seeing Daisy soften. “Now I will go and chop some wood so that you can cook these prawns for me. Ok, old woman?”.

Daisy let out a sigh and lowered her head as she said “Ambrose, only you can be so happy on hearing another man’s death. Tomorrow when I die, I want to see this very excitement while you dig up my grave.”

“God doesn’t love you mother. You are here to stay forever” screamed Ambrose as he struck the log with an axe, splitting it into two.

That night after finishing a portion of the coconut prawn curry, Ambrose locked up his old Daisy within the safe confines of his Daisy Villa and made his way towards the Village hospital. The hospital was never a first choice of the rich landlords of Sarzora, who always went to town for treating as much as a common cold. It was either imminent death or an emergency that brought the affluent to the village hospital. Mr.Dias was one such case.  At 85 years of age, with 3 wives and 8 children, Mr.Dias was a piping hot subject among the villagers. For a twig of a man that he was, Ambrose wondered as to how he survived so long. Tonight, the hospital gallery was bustling with people wearing rich clothes and leather shoes. Ambrose caught hold of a yawning security guard and enquired “Is he dead yet?”

“Ambrose will you ever show some compassion?” the young guard replied.

“Oh please Louis. You and I know how this works. I come here and you tell me if someone will die or not. I go home and sleep, only to wake up for digging up another grave. These deaths are important to me.” Ambrose wasn’t new to such a reception from Louis.

Louis looked around and whispered “ Ok. I heard that they will remove him from the machine in half an hour. I think the man will die before midnight.”

“Thank God for another grave!” Ambrose exclaimed, “That daft bugger was anyway past his expiry date.” Poor Louis was left gaping at the retreating silhouette of his grave digger friend.

Morning came and Ambrose slept outside the cemetery compound while Mr Dias was being lowered into a freshly dug hole. The bell tolled thrice, yet again surprising the crow perched on the iron gate. “Hey Ambru! Here, take your two hundred rupees.” Ambrose grinned and raised his right arm, his eyes remaining shut. He opened his eyes on feeling the notes being pressed onto his palm and saw the priest walking away.

 “Any more deaths that need my digging, eh father?”.

The priest stopped, looked up for a few seconds as if waiting for some divine intervention and continued walking.

‘I must buy some kerosene for the stove. No, I will get a shawl for my old Daisy. That would finish off my money. I wonder if anyone would die today. Matilda’s husband had pneumonia, no?’ with a mind chock-full of thoughts, Ambrose made his way towards the nearest cloth shop. It was only by late evening that Ambrose entered his villa, with a cream shawl hidden under his dirty shirt. The lamp wasn’t burning this evening, leaving Ambrose annoyed because this only meant that Daisy had gone to their neighbour Xavier’s house, to watch Television. Ambrose took a deep breath and decided to lie on the veranda waiting for his old woman to come back. God! He was hungry.

Ambrose woke up on hearing Louis call his name. How long did he sleep? “I searched for you everywhere! I came home by 5, but you weren’t here. Daisy is in the village hospital. Xavier found her unconscious near the stove and rushed her to the hospital. Come now!”

The hospital wasn’t packed tonight and there were no rich clothes or leather shoes filling up the gallery. “Is my Daisy ok, Louis?” Ambrose asked, scared to look him in the eye. Silence was his only reply. Louis signalled the village doctor who walked up to them and asked, “Is he the son?”. On receiving a nod, the doctor looked at Ambrose and without a tinge of sentiment declared “Your mother Daisy? Yeah so she died. Heart attack. Sorry for your loss”. He tapped his shoulders gently and walked away.

Everyone watched as Ambrose dug out a hole. The grave digger, digging his mother’s grave. It was a vision, of course. Sure to be a sensational topic for discussion. But Ambrose was oblivious to it all. He kept digging, unaware of the sweat mixing with his tears. “Ambrose, only you can be so happy on hearing another man’s death. Tomorrow when I die, I want to see this very excitement while you dig up my grave.” Her words kept ringing in his ears. He tried to mute down the voices in his head by digging faster. Frustrated, Ambrose wailed as he fell on his knees and lay curled up inside the newly dug grave.

The bell tolled thrice and Daisy slept peacefully. No one stopped Ambrose as he walked out of the cemetery. “Want Two hundred rupees?” the village lunatic mocked, holding out two dried Eucalyptus leafs as Ambrose walked past him. Louis never saw Ambrose again and neither did anyone else. The village wondered till his story decayed. The church found a new grave digger.

Like the wax left behind on the desk, reminding us of a candle that once burnt, all that was left behind was a hut. The dirty aluminium plate hanging on the fence screaming ‘DAISY VILLA’.





P.S- Some stories are simple. Yet you write them because they are stories nonetheless. 
P.P.S- That beautiful house I saw in Varkala, was the inspiration. Also, for those who don't know, Sarzora is a village in South Goa. :)






100 comments:

  1. Interesting story, Red..a powerful message put across simply. Yet, I feel for Ambrose. It was his work, his need that made him so blase about death.

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    1. Thank you so much for being the first to read :D

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  2. Some stories might be predictable but, as you say they need to be told. And you did a great job at it with a power packed narration!

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  3. Now I know who you are ... you are a professional and famous author, using the pen name of Red. Only a professional writer could weave such a sensitive tale so beautifully.

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    1. How generous are you with words. I am not complaining. :P I am a simple lawyer. :D

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  4. Brilliant Red! The narration drew me in! And yes though it was predictable I could feel for Ambrose ans could picture the scenes! Well done!

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  5. I agree with Amrit!! Okay so I thought maybe he would die..or his mum would..and agreed some stories head in that direction which we expect them tp go.. The narration is the thing that makes it beautiful..as in this case :)

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    1. Thank you so much for reading. I knew this was predictable but I wanted to write!

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  6. "Daisy Villa" has quite a coastal touch to it - spice in the right places and an overwhelming feeling after reading it. A very poignant piece, tastefully executed Red. Some stories just need to be said

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    1. I thought I wouldn't do this, but I have to. I don't agree that this is your best narration yet. It's good, but it could be slightly better too. I KNOW you have more captivating narrative capabilities in you. So keep writing :) And when it doubt, well, just write. :P

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    2. You know you were the first to read this. I always always value your comment. Thank you sooo much!

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  7. I love the way you narrate stories. You should think about publishing them, They are that great. Honestly!

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    1. How kind. I am a poor blogger only :D :P
      Thank u!

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  8. That was a nice piece Red.. could feel what Ambrose felt all through his tale...

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  9. How do you do this Red? It was so captivating and deep. You say some stories are simple, I agree but they weave deeper threads than the complicated ones. Simple or Complex, everyone has a story to tell and stories are meant to be read.

    Wonderful post!

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    1. Your comment made me smile. Thank you for making my day a shade better!!!!!!

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  10. I remember seeing this picture on your Instagram account. But I now read the story behind it. It may be fictious but I feel that it actually is the story of this house. Brilliant Red! You should write fiction more often!

    :)

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    1. haha ya...this pic was there on instagram. Thank you Leo. I will definitely try!

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  11. Such a poignant story. There must be a touch of human compassion to every profession. Very well narrated.

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  12. Very well narrated, Red! . Your grip on the story telling is as powerful as on satire and humor:) Write more of such stories

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    1. I am glad u liked it Sir. I shall definitely do more!

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  13. Your creative writing skills continue to grow with each and every blog post :)

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  14. Oh Red, beautifully narrated. Even though it was predictable, the way you've writing is captivating. Love it!

    xx
    Hopelessly Hopeful
    http://welcometomypartypeople.blogspot.in/

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    1. I am so glad you still read it babe

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  15. A very nice one Red Handed. Yes it is simple but it has that flavor that makes the story soar high.

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  16. Rightly stated, some storied need to be told. Although the end was predictable, the captivating narration and simplicity in emotions made this shine. Loved "Daisy Villa" and especially liked Ambrose' character. You should write fiction more often. You're sooooo good at it :)

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    1. Ya like u said this was very predictable...but I wrote because I found it unusually simple. No?
      Thank you babe. I will try more. Comments like these r what a blogger needs!

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  17. Wow, Red. You kept me hooked till the end. Loved the narration and the story too :)

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  18. Excellent narration. Very touching story. I admire Ambrose's love for his mother.

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  19. seriously r u practicing law ?
    because the wonderful narration says something else !

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    1. hehehe u r cute and kind...I like that!

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  20. Beautiful narration. Hope to read more stories here :)

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  21. Brilliant! This was a very gripping story. Thumbs up!!

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  22. Heart rending, Red. You are one master story teller!

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    1. How kind. Thaaaaaaaaaaaaaaankuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu

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  23. Some stories need to be told and you did just that and that too wonderfully...Some how the name Daisy Villa and the names of the characters added to the allure... And Red you should write more fiction you know!

    Fearless...

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    1. Now I know you should. Comments like these are what any blogger would need. Thnk you so much Naba!

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  24. You could very well be my favorite story teller milady, if you continue with this gait.

    Loved this story! :-)
    (And you mustn't write that first P.S., those who didn't get it in the first run, well, won't waste a second look)

    Cheers,
    Blasphemous Aesthete

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    1. heheh arent you awesome. Thank you soooo much,
      Next time no P.S :D

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  25. Some stories, even though simple, turn out to be excellent when we have such amazing writers :)

    I liked how you picked up such an usual story to tell.

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    1. haye haye ..me and amazing...BLUSHING!!!!
      Thanks babe!

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  26. I do echo the thoughts of the people who have commented. You should do more fiction. You are a natural, Red! I loved the story of Daisy Villa and Ambrose. I could empathize with the pain that Ambrose felt. And the simplest of stories are often the most beautiful. Like yours.

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    1. Thanks Athira. I just wanted a break. I have done humour for so long that I am yearning to try somehting different. People only expect humour from me.

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  27. Red, you are quite a Steinbeck my dear. Simple narratives, very limited embellishments, full of irony and the tragedy of human living. With that child's piece last time, you did try a turn. This one makes it complete.

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    1. Now that was some serious compliment. No I am not complaining but wowwwwwwww!!
      Thank you soooooooooooooo much. I am glad u even remembered my previous work. My best accomplishment.

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  28. I didn't know you wrote stories too....well narrated. Yes, some stories need to be told. Just because....I felt sorry for Ambrose...and how creatively you have woven the story from that picture.

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    1. Ya even I didnt know I could do short stories. But I am trying it out. Glad u liked it!

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  29. Oh my God Red!!! This is a masterpiece. I loved it to no end....am short for words to praise it. <3

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  30. Dear Red,
    As I finished your story I am speechless now and what can you expect from a speechless mouth. Thankfully I am writing which is not involved any speech. Now when it comes to praise you, I am more into adoration. I really adore you. The way you put each and every word forward, though the end was somewhat predictable, still the curiosity was high on tower. It was like grandmother telling children from pouch of her memory. Incredible Red.
    Love you.
    :)

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    1. I feel like a grandmother now. hehehe. But thank you soooooooooo much. I adore you more. :*

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  31. I love your story writing. I loved reading this but I felt the last one was better :) I m sure you will write more and more :D

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  32. I read it yesterday and I was too dumbfounded to comment...you are right, some stories are simple and they needed to be told that way. There was no element of surprise in this one but I liked Ambrose's character...the paradox between a heartless grave digger and a loving son was beautiful..

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    1. Y were u dumbfounded :O
      I hope the reasons are good. :D
      Thank you for reading!

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  33. The setting the names, the characters are all so creatively chosen and the essence of the story so intact till the last word ! All interesting stories need not be thrillers, and this is a proof.

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    1. thaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaankyouuuuuuuuuuuuuuu ANITAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA...I LOOOOOOOOOOOOVE YOUUUUUUU

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  34. Your stories (this is the second one I am reading) are always unusual yet simple.

    Loving your story-teller avatar.

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    1. Heh you remembered my first. Now that is an honour!!!
      Thank you so much!

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  35. simple stories are always the best because they give the right message and simply tooo ..

    a lovely story

    Bikram's

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  36. Thank you for so touching 'simple' story...Love your humorous take on such sad thing as the death...Simplicity of life includes doing what you love....how weird it would sound...~ Thanks for stopping by, Red! Nice to meet you :)x

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    1. Thank you for reading!!! Nice to meet you too :D

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  37. Ah, cycle of karma. Poignant but well written.

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  38. Simple, yet amazing narration ! Read until the last dot with the same feeling.

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    1. Thank you for reading!!!!!! welcome to my blog.

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  39. Beautifully written ! One man's loss is another's gain. Nowhere can this be more evident than in the lives of grave diggers or cremators.

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    1. You put it aptly!! the where there is a debit..there is a credit scenario. heh!!!

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  40. Very nice! Powerful story!

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  41. hw places can evoke stories in ur mind !
    firstly am J that u r in god's own country and secondly I am amazed by ur pen ! touched by the story. Life indeed is ironical :(
    Keep them coming

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    1. Yayyy...your comment made me smile. Thank you for reading!

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  42. Awe.... you write fiction also equally brilliantly! Very good one..

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  43. Very well penned. Lovely narration

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  44. Good narration. Enjoyed reading it, though felt something unsettling after the climax. Good story!

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    1. Thank you for reading and welcome to my blog.

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  45. wow...goosebumps.. I must say, I am starting to love your fictions as much as your regular posts!!: ) keep em coming..

    hugs.. :*

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    1. HUGSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS................THAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANKSSSSSSSSSSS

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  46. Okay, this might be the first story I have read here, on your blog. And all I can say is "Wow". So utterly beautiful. It kind of reminds me of this novella by Gabriel Garcia Marquez titled 'Chronicles of a Death Foretold' because of the legend-like quality of your piece. I got an inkling that Daisy is going to die because I am pathetically, prescient lately, watching too much of 'The Walking Dead' and predicting deaths to my own discomfort. But in any case, it did not lessen the ultimate effect that the ending was supposed to have on me as a reader.

    You write so well. So darn well. Keep it up. :)

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  47. That was a beautiful story!

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  48. Whoa...this was fantastic...u r soo good. Just wanted to share this thought though as it silently crept while i read ur story. Long ago when we were in maybe class 8- 9 don't remember exactly when we had this story by Munshi Premchand in our Hindi text...it was about a poor lady delivering her child and in labor...she was in pain and dying. Outside her husband and her father in law were baking potatoes that they had stolen from the farm...
    Can't even remember the title of the story also but probably it was Kafan...or maybe i am wrong...ur story made me feel just the same...touching...' hriday ko Jhankjhor dena' i remember Mrs Sinha our Hindi teacher explaining the ethos of the story...ur story felt the same...
    You are too GOOD.
    Once again i say this...great it feels to have met you. :)

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  49. beautifully written, captivating, loved it :) In fact loved all your other writing's.

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  50. beautiful, beautiful, BEAUTIFUL......

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  51. You should write more and more of fiction. This was just so beautiful as much it was simple. Chechi, :*

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Spit It Out I Say !!!