It was nice to be with Ravi, who is sensible. But it wasn’t the same – not quite the same as it used to be. He didn’t seem entirely natural.
I can’t bear to think he might be disappointed in me. And he doesn’t know the half of it.
We had reached Fortnum’s and sat down, and each commanded the other to order whatever we liked off the menu, priced be damned. But the awkwardness, imagined or not, was gnawing at me, so I said:
“Ravi, we are friend, aren’t we?”
Ravi gave me a surprised look. He has the nicest eyes. One feels one could say anything to those eyes, and it would be understood as one wanted to be understood.
“I should like to think we are,” he said.
“You don’t think notoriety has spoiled my character, do you?”
Ravi looked very serious. He leaned back in his chair and rubbed his chin and raised his eyes to the ceiling. He opened his mouth, but he couldn’t keep it up, and started laughing.
“You are a three-horned spotted beast,” I said. “I am serious!”
“I think,” said Ravi, “any damage to your character was already fixed by the time Mimnaugh made you famous. That is my professional opinion.”
“Well—“ I hesitated. “Would you still be my friend even if I had done something you didn’t’ quite approve of? Something that was—that was rather foolish?”
That made him calm down and look at me properly.
“Is this about Sebastian Hardie?” he said.
“No! What makes you think that?” I said, but I could feel I’d gone a furious red.
This is such an adorable story! And this in spite of many elements that would almost make it ‘common’. The 1920s London setting is virtually non-existent. The plot is quite simple and straightfarward, with not a lot of originality in the evolution of the story. But that voice! The voice of the main character, Geok Huay (Jade) is captivating. She’s honest and candid, down-to-heart, extremely pragmatic. It’s a fascinating mix of features.
She keeps a diary to improve her writing abilities, and in it, she pours uncensored ideas and feelings about her everyday life. She lives the present but thinks to the future, sometimes in a very volatile way. Her culture and upbringing is always present and colours most of her speculations. Doesn’t matter that the circumstances are often at odds with what it would be desirable for a woman traditionally mindful. It’s such an endearing attitude. What she does and the reasons why she does it should suggest a very shallow personality, still, there is deep insight in her. Her ability to look dispassionately at the life around her always gets her to the core of things, allowing her to naturally grow and learn from her mistakes.
I simply loved it.
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