The Smile

Semina's Past



Friday, February 16, 2007

The Farm

Semina’s Mother told her, one day at breakfast, that her Father was going to take her to The Farm.
The Farm is where her Father grew up and where his parents still live. It is a very beautiful part of her country. Semina especially likes the beautiful glacier that you can see from the farm.
Semina asked her Mother if they were going on the bus? "Yes, he does not want to drive his new car over the rough farm roads", her Mother told her.
Semina smiled to herself, because she knows that her Father does not like to drive his car very far from the city. That is why Semina has to take the bus when she goes to visit him. She also knows that he does not want to spend the money on gasoline.
One day her Father said to her "Semina, you have to save your money and you should not spend it on unnecessary things" Semina had just given him a little present, which he gave back to her and told her to take it back to the store. He then said to her "That is why I don’t spend money on silly things for you" Semina smiled a secret inside smile and though to herself that she had noticed this, and she also knew that he was one of the richest men in her country. Then her Father said "How do you think I became so rich, do you think it is because I buy silly presents for people?" Semina looked at her shoes and said "No, Father" Semina, looked at her shoes, because she was growing fast and she thinks that maybe he thinks shoes are silly. This is probably why he would not give her Mother money to buy new shoes for her, for Christmas.
Semina did not mind that she did not have new shoes for Christmas, that was a good excuse not to go to the Children’s Christmas parties. They always made her uncomfortable because everybody teased her and called her names. The children did not like her because her Mother was going to marry an American. This is very bad, they say.
A few days later Semina and her Father went by bus to The Farm. The bus made many stops and at one stop her Father said, "We are getting off here" Semina looked around and thought, this is not The Farm.
They got off the bus and walked up a long gravel road to a farm house. Her Father called to the house and said "Friend coming". There was a lady in a dirty apron she ran to her Father and gave him a hug and then looked at Semina and said "Is this her?" Her Father said "Yes".
Then they started talking about weather and hay and sheep and horses and the weather again.
Semina stopped paying attention and looked around, wondering if she had ever been here before and also wondering who is this woman?
They went inside the house and there around a big table sat a lot of people of all ages. The man at the head of the table, stood up and shook her Fathers hand and looked at Semina and said "This is her then?"
Semina started feeling uncomfortable not only because people kept asking if this was her and then looking away and continuing their conversation, but also because everything in this house looked dirty and smelled bad.
They were invited to sit down and have dinner. There was some kind of gray soup with gray meat in it and lot of fat, making lots of colors, swimming on the top. Semina had never seen food like this and could not eat. She stirred the soup around and watched as the fat on top took many shapes and colors.
All of a sudden her Father shouted at her, to stop playing with her food and to eat. Semina was so startled that she felt tears in her eyes and she could not see, she was affraid to look up. She was also worried, because maybe this was the farm her Father was taking her too and not The Farm.
Semina felt so sad that she found it hard to smile.

Smiled by Semina :: 12:02 PM :: 1 smiles


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Semina Made Up Her Mind

Semina went back to the bus stop and waited for a hour or more. Part of her wanted her Father to come back to get her. He did not, part of her felt relieved. She loved her Father and could not understand how and why he had changed.
Semina’s Mother was waiting for her at the bus stop, when she arrived at her destination.
The minute she saw her Mother she started crying. Her Mother folded her in her arms and whispered soothing words in her ear. They walked back home. Her Grandmother and Grandfather were there waiting for her. They both held out their arms to her and she went from one to the other several times to get big hugs from them. She was home and she was loved.
Semina made up her mind that she would not be crying over every hurt. This may have been a curse or a blessing as many hurts came over the years.
One in particular sticks out in her memory. Her Father’s new wife, decided that they could no longer live in the apartment, where his former family had lived. They bought a very nice little house fixed it up and moved inn. Semina found out about this when her Father met her at the old bus stop. He greeted her by saying “Semina, in the future you need to go two more stops, because I have moved”.
Semina was stunned and though to herself “I guess I must get used to my Father not telling me of any of his plans ahead of time”.
They walked a few feet and her Father stopped in front of a car and opened the door. Then he said just before getting into the car, “This is my new car, I bought it three weeks ago”.
Semina got into the car and said to her Father, “I did not know that you could drive”
He replied, “I took driving lessons last month so that I could drive my new car”
Semina replied “Oh”
They arrived at her Father’s new house and there they were met by her Step-Mother.
“Semina you will be staying with us this time”.
“Do I have a room here”? Semina replied hopefully as she looked around her and saw some familiar things and some new, but old things, antiques.
Her Father was quick to reply “Your Step-Brother is staying in the study, and we have another extra room that my wife uses for her business, so you will be staying in the living room on the sofa”.
“Oh” Semina replied.
Her Father looked at her and said “Is that all you can say”?
Semina ignored the question and asked “Did you bring my old toys, when you moved”?
Her Step-Mother replied “Semina you are much too old for those toys, so we threw them out”
Semina could feel all the blood drain from her face. The toys were important to her, even though she had not seen them for several years, she remembered every one and their every detail.
One of her Uncles had made the little doll bed for her, another Uncle had painted it and decorated it with beautiful roses. Her Grandfather had made her a little ironing board and her Uncle made a little iron out of wood, with a rope cord with a plug on the end. She loved her beautiful toys, they each had a meaning to her, they were hers and no one had a right to throw them out.
Semina could feel anger, hurt and disappointment fighting to come out, but she would not let it happen, she had her pride.
Her Father said to her “What is the matter with you, are you feeling sick”?
“No, I am fine”
“Well, come then, we are going for a drive and we might visit Emilia’s(that was Semina’s Step-Mother’s name) Daughter”.
Semina liked her Step-Sister and it was fun to go over to her house because of her small children, the twins are so cute and they can always put a smile on Semina’s face.

Smiled by Semina :: 4:08 PM :: 3 smiles


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

She Smiled Through Her Tears

Semina’s Father told her that she is now old enough to walk from the bus to his apartment by herself.
This made Semina feel very mature, after all she was now ten years old.
She had not been to see her Father for five weeks. The last time she was with him he went to the furniture maker to look at the new bed he had ordered. He told Semina to stay in the showroom while he went into the shop with the Master Carpenter. Semina was puzzled, why does he need a new bed he has a perfectly good one in his bedroom.
While Semina waited for her Father in the showroom, she touched and stroked the furniture with her eyes closed. She did this to see how the Master Carpenter felt, he is blind, how does he do his work when he cannot see. Semina loved the feel of the wood and the lines of the furniture, smooth lines and a polished finish, it felt beautiful in her hands. This is how he must do it, stroke the furniture and feel the lines and the smoothness of the finish. Semina smiled to herself.
Semina’s Father came back to the showroom and told her that they were going to her cousins Greta’s house and that she was to spend the rest of the weekend there.
Semina and her cousins Greta’s family were having dinner when Greta’s brother looked at Semina and said “Are you going to the wedding on the east side” Greta’s Mother right away shushed the Brother and told him to finish his dinner. Semina was puzzled and wanted to ask questions, but was afraid, because Greta’s Mother can be very scary.
Five weeks later Semina got of the bus and started walking to her Father’s apartment, when a man, woman and a small child that had been on the bus, caught up with her. The woman said “Are you Semina?” Semina did not know this family, but she was being polite and told the woman that she was. Then the woman told her that they were going to the same place. The woman then said to her “It is too bad that you won’t be having a little sister or brother” Semina was puzzled, but smiled at the woman without saying anything. Semina did not know what she was talking about.
When Semina and the family from the bus arrived at the apartment, her Father opened the door and invited everyone inn. Semina took her hat off in front of the mirror that faces the bedroom. In the reflection Semina saw a woman in a new bed, in her Father’s bedroom. This was the bedroom that used to be her parents room, when they were a family.
Semina froze, she did not know what to do. The family from the bus was in the bedroom kissing the woman in the bed. Semina when she looked closer could see that she was the woman that cooked the food and owned the place where her Father used to get his dinner. Why is this woman in bed and why is she in her Father’s bedroom?
Semina’s Father came out of the bedroom and said to her, “Come and say hello to my new wife” All kind of thoughts were spinning in Semina’s head as she tried to smile and be very polite. All eyes were on her, she put her hand out to her Father’s new wife and said “Hello, I am sorry that I cannot stay” Her Father quickly said “You are going to stay with your Aunt this weekend and you will visit us” Semina looked at her Father and asked him to come out to the hall to talk with her. Her Father did what she asked.
Semina now very angry said to her Father, “I am going back to my home, and I will visit you when you have time for me” her Father slapped her face and said “You are more like your Mother every day” Semina smiled through her tears and said in a small voice “Thank You”. She put on her hat and coat and left the apartment, as she was going down the stairs Semina heard her Father yell “Come back here ~ don’t be such a brat ~ you will like her when you get to know her ~ Semina come here, I tell you” Semina went out the door of the apartment building, with tears blinding her, she squared her shoulders, put her head up and walked towards the bus station. Her Mother will give her hugs and kisses and tell her that she loves her, when she comes back home.

Smiled by Semina :: 10:03 AM :: 9 smiles


Friday, October 27, 2006

When the eye wakes up to see again, it suddenly stops taking anything for granted.
Frederick Franck

Semina and her Mother were on the bus that would take them to their new home.
Semina’s Grandparents had just moved to a new house that Semina’s Grandfather and Uncle built for them. It is a very big house, Semina has been there before and likes it very much. She is very happy that her Grandfather’s shop, garden, and chickens are still in the same place, next to the house where Semina was born.
“I know you will miss your toys Semina, you will have tem when you visit your Father” Semina’s Mother then told her that she would see her Father every weekend.
Semina smiled and felt happy that she would see her Father on the weekends and that she could play with her toys, she did not know about this before.
Semina and her Mother arrived an hour later at her Grandparents house. Her Grandmother gave Semina a big hug and kissed her all over her face. This made Semina laugh because it tickled.
Her Grandfather pretended to take her nose and then put it back.
They had hot chocolate with whipped cream, open faced sandwiches, cookies and cakes. It was like Christmas, but it was May and Mother’s Day.
Semina went to bed happy and sad at the same time. Happy that she would see her Father on the weekend and sad that they were no longer a family.
The days grew longer, Semina and her cousins could play outside well into the evening because it did not get dark.
Some of her cousins live down stairs in her Grandparents big house. Semina and her Mother have a big room, upstairs where her Grandparents live.
There were other cousins and their parents also living in the house and many cousins that live just a few houses away from her Grandparents house. For the first time Semina did not play her lonely games all by herself. Semina and her cousins put on plays. Semina was the director, writer and the lead in all the plays, because her Mother was an actress. Semina was always careful to give everybody a good role, because if she didn’t her cousins would get angry with her and call her spoiled. All her cousins had sisters and brothers, Semina was the only one that was an only child, that is why they said she was spoiled. Semina would have loved to have an older brother and she thought her cousins were lucky not to be only children.
All the adults would come to see their plays. Their Grandparent’s living room was right next to the dining room and in the opening between them is where, the curtain made out of a bed sheet, would be hung up by their Grandfather. The adults sat on chairs in the dining room and smiled a lot while their children put on the play for them. Semina sometimes though they were silly because they even smiled when the play was very, very sad. Sometimes the laughed in the wrong places, Semina would have to talk to her Mother about this. Maybe she can tell them when the play is sad and when it is funny.
Another thing the cousins liked to do is to make pictures. Semina was very good at drawing because she had so much practice. Her cousins sometime would tell her that her drawing was no good, but Semina knew they were wrong. One of her cousins always asked Semina how she liked her drawing and Semina always told her it was very good and that some day she will be a famous artist, this Semina knew in her heart. Semina also knew that her cousins drawings were much better than her own.
The cousins played cards, sang songs together, played ball, hopscotch and many, many other games. It was a happy time with many people and on the weekends Semina went to the city to see her Father.

The first weekend was not a good time her Father had put all her toys and her Mother’s things in big boxes and put them up on a high shelf in the cellar. Semina asked her Father if she could play with her toys. Her Father told her he would get them later, he told her this every weekend.
Semina did not see her Father much when she went to visit. He took Semina to her Aunt and Uncles house to play with Greta and said he would be back. He came back the next day to take her to the bus. Semina had to sleep in Greta’s room.
Sometimes he took her to her other Uncles house, so that she could play with her cousin Eric.
Semina’s Aunt would sometimes let her sleep in her house, there Semina had to play her lonely games all by herself. Her Aunt’s children were grown and did not live there.
Her Aunt had beautiful dolls in pretty dresses, Semina was allowed to go into her Aunts room to look at them. The dolls were on the top of a very high cabinet and Semina had to stand on her toes to get a good look at them, her Aunt told her she could not touch them. Semina had the same Birthday as her Aunt and that made her Aunt very happy. Once time she made a dress for Semina’s doll. Semina liked the dress that her doll had before, better, but she was afraid to tell her Aunt, and it would not have been good manners. Semina's Mother always told her to have good manners.
Her Aunt had many puzzles that Semina was allowed to play with, if she was careful not to loose any of the pieces and to put all the pieces back carefully in the box. Semina tried to be very quiet and to have good table manners, because her Aunt did not like noisy children or children that did not have good table manners. Semina was always very happy when her Father came back to her Aunts house to take her to the bus. Semina’s Father never forgot to take her to the bus, he always came back to the places Semina was to do that.
Semina’s Mother would always ask her what she did over the weekend. Semina told her Mother everything she did with her relatives. Some things she did not tell her Mother, she did not lie she just did not tell.
One weekend Semina stayed the whole time with her Father. She sat at the big desk and tried to draw her pictures, she felt lonely and sad.
Her Father took her to a place where he has his dinner. There were many people having dinner there. Many men who were telling jokes and saying things that Semina did not understand.
There was a lady who made the dinners, her Father told her that she was the owner of the place. Her Father went to the kitchen and helped the lady stir things. Semina saw her Father smile a special smile at the lady. One time when Semina walked into the kitchen her Father had his arm around the lady and when he saw Semina he quickly put his arms down and smiled at Semina.
Semina smiled back with a little shy smile. Why did her Father have his arm around this lady, that Semina did not know?

Smiled by Semina :: 1:17 PM :: 8 smiles


Friday, October 13, 2006

Mother's Day Dinner

Learn to wish that everything should come to pass exactly as it does. Epictetus

“No Semina the roses are too expensive, we will get her the daffodils” Semina and her Father are in the flower shop on Mother’s day. “Semina you have to learn to save your money”
“Yes Father”. He said this to Semina many times and she knows he is right, because he has a lot of money that he has saved.
Semina wanted to buy her Mother beautiful yellow roses, her Mother told her that she loves yellow roses. Semina remembers the time she told her, it was when she was given a big bouquet of yellow roses on the last day of her play.
Her Mother was the star in the play and everybody wanted to talk to her and give her beautiful flowers. Semina was so proud that she was her Mother and that she had been allowed to see the play every night. It was just the first act, because Nanny had to take her home so that she could go to bed. Semina was allowed to go into her Mother’s dressing room and watch her Mother change into another person, the one she was playing. Semina knew that she was still her Mother, behind the makeup and the costume.
Semina saw the whole play two times, once with her Father at the opening and then once when her cousin Greta came to see it. Greta cried and called out “Oh, no she is dead” when in the play her Mother fell on the stage and pretended to faint, just as the curtain went down at the end of the second act. Semina leaned over to her and said “She did not die silly, this is a play, she will be back in the third act” Greta cried and carried on so much that Semina’s Father had to take her back stage to see that her Aunt was still alive. Semina was disgusted with Greta, she should have known that a play is pretend, she is eight years old, four years older than Semina.
When Semina and her Father return home with the flowers, her Mother had the dinner ready, the last dinner they would have together as a family. Her Mother kissed Semina and thanked her for the flowers, then looked at Semina’s Father and said “Thank You” Semina got a little shiver in her back, when she saw her Mother’s face when she said that, it did not look like a thank you look. Then her Mother put the daffodils into a vase and placed them in the center of the table.
Semina has a strange feeling in her tummy and a lump in her throat. So this is how sadness feels Semina thinks to herself, she has never had this kind of sad feeling before.
While they were having dinner Semina looked at the daffodils and had a hard time swallowing anything, she tried because she did not want to make her Mother sad.
Desert was a fresh pineapple. Her Father refused to eat it and said “I don’t want anything from that man” Semina had seen the fresh pineapple in the window of the kitchen for a few days. This was the first time they had seen or had fresh pineapple. Mother had to call someone to ask him how to peal and cut it, he told her how to do it. Semina tried very hard to eat the pineapple and to smile, but it was very hard she had not had this taste before and she did not like it, it hurt her throat. All Semina could think was I don’t like the daffodils, I don’t like the pineapple. But she smiled at her Mother and Father because she did not want to hurt their feelings.
After dinner her Mother cleaned the dishes and the kitchen. Then she picked up the suitcase, that was in the hall and said to Semina “Say goodby to your Father” Semina hugged her Father very hard and kissed him goodby, she noticed that there were tears in his eyes. Then her Mother took her hand and they walked out of the apartment.
Just before the door closed Semina looked back and gave her Father a little smile. Her Father smiled back and gave her a little wave.

Smiled by Semina :: 11:18 AM :: 6 smiles


Friday, October 06, 2006

Semina Finishes her Drawing

Semina is back at the desk in the living room, she is swinging around in the big desk chair thinking about Adam.
Her Mother took her to say goodby to her friend Adam. He cannot hear or speak but Semina has learned the language that he uses, it is called Sign Language. Semina is going to miss Adam they liked to play and to make pictures together. Adam goes to a special school, all the children there cannot hear or speak , they learn the Sign Language there. Semina is the only friend that Adam has that can hear and speak and the only friend he has outside of his special school. Semina thinks Adam will miss her, she smiles her sad smiles and promises that she will come back and visit, but she does not know how she will do this, because she has never been on the bus by herself. She will ask her Mother.
Semina goes back to her drawing, thinking happy thoughts now.
Next to her Grandfathers Carpentry Shop is a fence and inside that fence are chickens and a house for them where they sleep and make eggs. Semina’s Grandmother showed her how to gently put her hand under the chicken sitting on the egg and take the egg away. First time Semina did this she was very scared, but now she can do it all by herself. The chicken never hurts Semina, she just sits there making low clucking sounds. It is very soft and warm under the chicken, even the egg is warm.
Semina’s Father and Uncle own a big chicken house and sell eggs to stores in the city. One time Semina and her Mother went there to see the little chicks, that were just born. Mother sat down on the floor and opened her apron, with the embroidered daisies on it, and let the little chick come into it. Semina stood behind her Mother with her hand on her shoulder and smiled, as she looked down at the little yellow puffs and noticed that they were the same color, as the center of the daisies on Mother’s apron. Mother lifted one of the chicks up to Seminas face, it was so soft and warm, it makes Semina smile to think about this.
Semina went back to her drawing and drew a picture of the wash house, that is right next to the chicken coop. In the wash house is a big pot over an open fire. Mother, her Grandmother and some ladies that help wash the laundry, boil all the white things so that they will be very clean. Then there are basins very big ones that have cold water running into them from a hose, the water is blue because the blue stuff makes all the white things very white ~~ Semina always wondered about this, how can blue make things white?
From the wash house in a U shape is the rest of the fence that surrounds the houses and the gardens.
Right across from her Grandfathers Shop is a potato garden, vegetable garden and a rhubarb garden. All of the Grandchildren love rhubarb and we ask Grandfather if we can have some, he tells us that we can have some from the left side of the garden, that is where the greenish red rhubarb grows. Grandfather saves the rhubarb on the right side of the garden for the ladies of the house to make rhubarb puddings and jams, that rhubarb is red and very sweet. Semina likes the greenish red rhubarb, it is a little sour. It is fun to peal thin strings of the rhubarb skin one by one and to roll it and make little roses.
Sometimes when Semina is sitting, on the table by the window in Grandfather’s shop, she looks out at the gardens. She has her back to the shop and when it is very quiet in the shop, all you can hear is the sound whoosh, whoosh of wood being plained and ssssss ssssss of wood being sanded. These are good sounds.
Semina likes it when the potato blossoms come, her Grandfather’s potato blossoms are white because he grows white potatoes. When she looks out the window at all the blossoms they look like a very large white blanket. Sometimes in other places Semina has seen lavender potato blossoms, that means that there are red potatoes growing there. Semina likes white flowers, they are her favorite, that is why she likes her Grandfather’s white potato blossoms. Semina finished her drawing, now she will go and show it to her Mother.
Semina thinks that maybe her Father will be home, because this is the last night Semina and her Mother will sleep in this apartment. Tomorrow after dinner they will go to Grandmother and Grandfather’s house. Semina smiles a sad smile when she thinks about this.

Smiled by Semina :: 12:30 PM :: 7 smiles


Thursday, September 28, 2006

Semina's Drawing

Create new agreements based on respect and love. Don Miguel Ruiz

When Semina and her Grandmother arrive at the apartment, Semina’s Mother bends down and openes her arms for Semina, her Mother’s hug is very strong and it feels like she never wants to let go. Semina does not cry because she does not want anybody to think that she is a baby.
Her Mother and Grandmother go to the kitchen to have a talk and Semina goes to the living room to the big desk. Her Father alows her use his desk, if she was careful not to write on the wood or make any scratches ~~ she likes sitting in the big desk chair and swing around and around. When she draws her pictures she has to be on her knees in the big chair, because she is too little to reach the desk any other way. Semina loves the living room it has a big Oriental rug that she can play hop scotch on when it rains outside and she has to play inside.
Today she is going to draw a picture of her Grandparents house.
Semina loves her Grandparents house, she was born upstairs in the part where her parents had lived since before she was born. She lived there until she was five years old, that is when she and her parents moved to the big apartment in the city.
First she draws the house two stories, downstairs is where her Grandparents live and upstairs is where she used to live. Then the flower garden by the side of the house. The flower garden is very beautiful and fun. Her Nanny used to take her there and show her how to take one piece of the very tall green and white gras, put it between both of her thumbs and then blow into it and make a whistle sound, Semina is not very good at it, but Nanny can do it every time.
In the corner of the flower garden is a very tall plant, it is even taller than her Father, it is called Angelica.
The big boys sneak into the garden and take a piece of the branches of the Angelica, cut it into a long piece and blow dried peas through it at the little children. They are very sneaky and try not to get caught by the adults. When the adults catch them doing this, they yell “Stop that, you could blow and eye out with this pea shooter”then they say “Give it to me” and then they shake their head and say “What are you thinking?” The boys always drop the pea shooter and run away, that always makes the adults even angrier.
Semina’s Grandmother makes candy out of the stems and sometimes decorates birthday cakes with it, that is a much better idea.
On the other side of the house is a big lawn. Grandfather always puts a big tent there in the summer for his Grandchildren to play in.
There a fences all around the house the garden and the big lawn. The fence ends right where Grandfathers carpentry shop is. There are many men that work there and make furniture. First they have to be apprentice, that means that they have to practice and Grandfather will teach them. Then after they learn what Grandfather teaches them, they become Master Carpenter. The apprentice that Grandfather has now is very young, Semina thinks he is old, but she heard her Mother and Grandmother say that he is very young. He sweeps the shop and oils the tools ~~ Grandfather likes everything in order and very clean.
The Children have to knock before they come into the shop and if Grandfather says “Come inn” they can go into the shop. They are not allowed to touch any of the big machines that make the loud noise, if it makes a noise they have to go outside and wait until there is no more noise. Grandfather is very strict about this and explains how he lost his fingers in the big saw machine.
He has two fingers missing on the right hand, they are the fingers between the pointy finger and the little finger. When Semina looks at this hand she gets a shiver and is very sad for Grandfather.
Sometimes Semina is allowed to sit on the big table by the window, behind Grandfathers work bench. Grandfather lifts her up and puts her on the table and always says “You will be safe here”
She makes things out of wood from the big scrap pile and sometimes she just sits there and watches Grandfather make things or write numbers in his big book. Semina loves being in the shop, there are so many good smells that come from the wood. There is sawdust and curls of wood that come when the men plane the wood. Those curls are her favorite and she likes to pick them up and play with them, she tries not to brake them.
There are two entrances to the shop one from the big lawn, this is the entrance Grandfather and the family use. On the other side of the fence is the other entrance, there is a walk up to it from the road, the customers use that door. When they come to talk with Grandfather they sometimes have big rolls of paper under their arm, they are called drawings, but they don’t look like real drawings. They are just lines and lot of numbers. Grandfather spreads them out on the big table by the window and points to things and writes a lot of, what he calls notes. He sometimes says “We will use Mahogani here” or “I think Birch would be best for this” he also scratches is head, under his cap, when he thinks, Semina is always amazed that his cap does not fall off, when he does this.

Semina hears her Mother call for her, she will finish her drawing later and think some more about her Grandparents place. That makes Semina smile her happy smile.

Smiled by Semina :: 12:45 PM :: 9 smiles


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