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This article is taken from PN Review 53, Volume 13 Number 3, January - February 1987.

First Love Gamini Salgado
 
She was gentle and soft-looking, with a slender body and a silvery glisten where the light of the incandescent lamp touched her. She was the most beautiful creature in the world.

I must have been about eight or nine when I first saw her. I was ten when I started travelling to the big school by train and it must have been before that, because trains were still wonderful and mysterious to me. That is why I spent every evening after school - as often as I could sneak out unnoticed by mother - hanging about the station, waiting for the trains to come snorting in. And that is how I saw her in the first place, with her master, if that is what he was.

He was one of the many who took their turn hawking their wares on the worn and dusty green oval in front of the main station entrance. Between trains I spent my time watching the various hawkers and memorizing the dirty jokes most of them told, to repeat to my school friends in the morning. On Tuesdays there was a fellow with sunken eyes and a face like a husked coconut, coppery-bald at the top and with a wisp of beard. He sold shiny black pellets guaranteed to cure arthritis, bronchitis, constipation - 'no need to squat over the black hole suffering hell-pains from sunrise to sleep time any more with your worldly goods dangling in front of you ...


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