Chapter 1

The sun that was merely peeking out from behind some clouds just minutes ago is now shining bright. Taking her eyes off the sun, 28-year-old Lucy looked straight into Shakti’s big brown doleful eyes and wonders what she’s thinking. Laughing out loud at her own thoughts, she tilted her head on one side, and looked at Shakti again. Shakti was just doing what she does best at this time of day: munching fresh, juicy green grass and swatting flies with her tail.

Stretching her arms and legs, Lucy stood up from the log that she had been sitting on for like an hour. I’d better get going and give Sharmani a hand. Grabbing her ankle-length pink cotton skirt, Lucy waddled her way across the meadow, still wet with the morning dew and the rain from last night. Each time she does that, she reminds herself that she is very lucky to have a pair of gumboots to protect her feet from all the mud; a rare blessing in this town. Although… wearing long garments isn’t one of her favourite things.; she’d rather be wearing a spaghetti top and short shorts in such hot weather.

Once she has arrived at the hut, there was Sharmani, in her simple clothes, covered in a sheet of sheer plastic to protect her from the drizzle of rain that had just begun. “Here is your basket, Loo-cee”, Sharmani said with a big smile as she handed Lucy with a hand-woven basket, to be strapped on her shoulders, and to be filled with tea leaves that they’re about to start picking in the plantation. Sharmani..Sharmani, as happy as can be, and still smiling although she’ll be working hard with minimal pay. Lucy looked around her and took in the glorious green beauty of her surroundings. Then, she took a deep breath and followed behind Sharmani, plodding her way through the tea plantation.

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