Maybe people will find out I have it,"
she thought first.
"Theres no way they can know, because a
lot of people use that place by the river for bathing. In fact, almost everybody in the
village uses that spot," she assured herself, trying to regain control of her
"Should I tell Father and Mother about
it?" she wondered.
"Well, if I do, theyll probably make me
return it. But Ive already told Nang Qie I havent seen it. Its not a
good idea to turn my words around now."
Nang Piew racked her brain but could not come up
with the right answer. On the one hand, she wanted to return the silver belt, but on the
other, she wanted very much to keep it for herself. She was the daughter of a peasant
couple whose life lacked a good many luxuries. If she kept the belt, she would have to
wait a long time before she could wear it, as she lived in a small rural village where
everybody knew everybody else. When a person borrowed something from another person,
everyone in the village knew about it right away. It would take a while for everyone in
the village to forget about this missing object. And when that time came, how would she
explain the belt to her parents? "Where did you get that belt?" they would ask.
The problem seemed to get bigger and bigger. What lies would she have to tell her parents
in order to convince them?
She thought about Nang Gie, who lived farther up
the street at the other end of the village. She was a young teenager and began wearing her
silver belt little more than a year ago. Before that, shed worn an ordinary belt.
She had not been allowed to use the silver one for fear that she might lose it. Nang
Oies mother died when she was only ten years old. Four years later, her father
remarried. It was now two years since the new wife had moved in. Nang Piew remembered well
the passing of Pa Soi, Nang Oies mother. She died after hemorrhaging in childbirth,
leaving six small children as orphans. It had been a sad time for the whole community.
As she remembered this period of sorrow, Nang Piew
wanted to return the belt. But another thought prevented her from doing so nobody knew.
Nobody had seen her with the belt, so it didnt
matter if she decided to keep it. ............