But when she did venture out onto the two streets of the tiny village of Wodra, more touristed than she would have dreamed possible the last time she was there, she did so feeling there was something drawing her. Of course she did not know what it was.
Damp, perspiring, though it was only eight or nine in the morning, she found herself at a jeweler's.
The Kalimasans are famous for their graceful aesthetic sense. For their innate appreciation of balance and proportion. This sense of what is just right can be seen in their architecture, in their canals, in their waterfalls. Even in their hairstyles. It is often said by visitors that everything in their landscape, except the mountains that frame most villages like spectacular stage props, is artificially constructed, yet looks totally natural. The fineness of the Kalimasans' eye is pronounced in the jewelry and clothing they make.
The shop, like all the shops on that end of the street near the restaurant and the river, was quite small.
Only a few feet deep, after you climbed three steep steps up from the road. There were four rows of trinkets: rings, bracelets, necklaces. Nothing costing more than fifty U.S. dollars. Susannah began to try on bracelets, the ones that are made of brass and look a hundred years old, though they might have been made yesterday. And then her eye fell on the ring she'd been looking for without knowing it. Black onyx, an oval shape. Its sides splashed with gold. Though, since the ring cost only eighteen dollars, perhaps the gold was something else. The ring fit her finger perfectly. Happily she paid the young Hindu shopkeeper, continued on her way through the village of Wodra, and was even inspired to go as far as the Elephant Walk, a mile and a half from the village, before giving in to the desire to return to the guest house.
"What is the meaning of this ring?" the woman asked at dinner, in the whining, bossy voice my daughter had come to dread.
"It is beautiful," said Susannah. She raised her hand to her cheek and rested it there. The light from the candle made the gold splashes beside the onyx glow red.
"I wanted to give you a ring for that finger," the woman pouted.
"But I have nine others," said my daughter. "All vacant."
Use of this excerpt from By the Light of My Father's Smile by Alice Walker may be made only for purposes of promoting the book, with no changes, editing, or additions whatsoever, and must be accompanied by the following copyright notice: Copyright© 1998 by Alice Walker. All rights reserved.
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