FRANKLYWNOW - Browser Title - Story - Infra Structure Testing - Tarek

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Story Headline - Infra Structure Testing - Tarek

She was walking lazily, for the fierce April sun was directly overhead. Her umbrella blocked its rays but nothing blocked the heat - the sort of raw, wild heat that crushes you with its energy. A few buffalo were tethered under coconuts, browsing the parched verges. Occasionally a car went past, leaving its treads in the melting pitch like the wake of a ship at sea. Otherwise it was quiet, and she saw no-one.

In her long white Sunday dress you might have taken Ginnie Narine for fourteen or fifteen. In fact she was twelve, a happy, uncomplicated child with a nature as open as the red hibiscus that decorated her black, waist-length hair. Generations earlier her family had come to Trinidad from India as overseers on the sugar plantations. Her father had had some success through buying and clearing land around Rio Cristalino and planting it with coffee.

On the dusty verge twenty yards ahead of Ginnie a car pulled up. She had noticed it cruise by once before but she did not recognize it and could not make out the driver through its dark windows, themselves as black as its gleaming paintwork. As she walked past it, the driver's glass started to open.

"Hello, Ginnie," she heard behind her.

She paused and turned. A slight colour rose beneath her dusky skin. Ravi Kirjani was tall and lean, and always well-dressed. His black eyes and large, white teeth flashed in the sunlight as he spoke. Everyone in Rio Cristalino knew Ravi. Ginnie often heard her unmarried sisters talk ruefully of him, of how, if only their father were alive and they still had land, one of them might marry him. And then they would squabble over who it might be and laugh at Ginnie because she was too simple for any man to want.

This is the Utility Block Body Two weeks later the little market town of Rio Cristalino was alive with gossip. Ravi Kirjani had been promised the hand of Sunita Moorpalani. Like the Kirjanis, the Moorpalanis were an established Indian family, one of the wealthiest in the Caribbean. But while the Kirjanis were diplomats, the Moorpalanis were a commercial family. They had made their fortune in retailing long before the collapse in oil prices had emptied their customers' pockets; and now Moorpalani stores were scattered throughout Trinidad and some of the other islands. Prudently, they had diversified into banking and insurance, and as a result their influence was felt at the highest level. It was a benevolent influence, of course, never abused, for people always said the Moorpalanis were a respectable family, and well above reproach. They had houses in Port-of-Spain, Tobago and Barbados, as well as in England and India, but their main residence was a magnificent, sprawling, colonial-style mansion just to the north of Rio Cristalino. The arranged marriage would be the social event of the following year. A welcome breeze came through the slats of the surgery windows. Outside you could hear the shrill, persistent sound of cicadas, while mosquitoes crowded at the screens, attracted by the bare bulb over the simple desk. Dr Khan sighed and peered over the frames of his glasses. Then he lowered his voice and spoke wearily, like a man who has said the same thing many times.
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