A Question of Dowry - Story

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7) A story written in the early to mid-1960s; published in Twenty-two Malaysian Stories: An Anthology of Writing in English, selected and edited by Lloyd Fernando, Heinemann Educational Books (Asia) Ltd., Singapore, 1968, pp. 30-4. Corrections of some minor printing and other errors in the published version have been incorporated here. . Siew-Yue Killingley 1965; . Heinemann 1968, the author retaining the right to include the work in any collection exclusively of her own works two years after 1968. There was much excitement in Mrs. Ramachandran 's household. The daughter of the house, Sivasothie, was going to be engaged. The festive air was laden with the spicy smell of curries and wad¨¦s sizzled in the kwali saucepan.
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My father gave us four for my dowry, and our second son received three as his wife 's dowry. ' 'Come now, wife! ' remonstrated Mr. Ramachandran. 'Don 't you remember? We have only one piece of land left from your dowry¡ªwe sold the other three for our third and fourth sons ' weddings. You asked me to do it yourself. As for Anandakrishna 's land, that belongs to him, and he 's already rented it out to some householders in order to get cash for his eternal drinks. ' Afraid of further secrets being revealed to prying ears, and being anxious to save her family 's face, Mrs. Ramachandran motioned to her husband to drop the subject. However, Mr. Ramachandran continued. 'About the land, I 'm afraid it is impossible to sell it at a quarter of its former price. You see, water has been seeping out from some well for about ten years, and so the land is now too marshy for house-holding. Unless we were to drain it, no one would buy it at our sum. ' 'Are you insulting my poor father? He give me a piece of sodden land? Impossible! Oh, if he had known what sort of a son-in-law he was getting, he would have made a wiser decision. But I shall have a better son-in-law who 'll not depend on his wife 's dowry. He 's a doctor, and he has his own income! ' With that she stalked out, after having locked the gold chain securely in its container again. Mr. Ramachandran looked worried, but resigned. He always found himself at a loss for words when his wife was most eloquent.
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