We are, it is generally acknowledged, a very old family. What this should mean, I have been told from my youngest days, is that we are calm and dignified and face any untoward happening with graceful but determined equanimity. I am not myself too good at this sort of thing. As I grow older I am better able to restrain any unsuitable excitement. However I shall never be as accomplished as my mother, whose capacity for control continues to astonish me.
This does not mean that she does not lose her temper. She certainly does that, and with a bitter intensity that can be quite frightening. This however takes place only in the privacy of our own house, and only I am privileged enough to be a witness. I suppose my father fulfilled the same role in the past. All the rest of the world gets is a cold and unruffled dismissal.
This is all that happened when we first heard the news of Tara’s unfortunate liaison. We were out visiting when someone mentioned it, on the round of calls we make regularly every Tuesday and Thursday through our little town. The news must have been hotly canvassed in town for the boy too still had some relations here and they must have been grossly uplifted at the idea of a connection being established with us. The firmness however with which my mother said that she had not been to Colombo for some time and therefore knew very little of her grand daughter’s affairs made it impossible for anyone to revert to the topic.