Determination - Part 8
By Thiyam Ningol Dr. Nalini
Lucy suspected that Bakari was a part of the mystery. He should be having some ideas behind all the games Arnold played with her family. One thing she knew it could have not been a bad intention. Arnold did not do anything destructive. He showed respect to her and love to the children. She could not think of any other reason. She was determined to find it out and the starting point had to be with Bakari.
-Bakari, your cousin had gone to a foreign country to study?
-No mama. I don’t have any educated relative.
-I am talking about Arnold. You didn’t know that he had gone to a country called Australia?
-Actually he is not my cousin, he is just a friend.
-Oh, so you had a very intelligent friend. He was educated. If he wanted he could get a job some where. Why did he have to snatch your job? Or did you owe him some money? How much he extracted from you? Did you give him the whole of your salary which we give you?
Bakari could not say a word. He never anticipated such a situation. Arnold promised him that his employer would never find out about their deal. He got frightened. He had jeopardized his job. He had never in the past had any problem with Alex’s family. He had served them faithfully and they had shown affection to him. He begged Lucy not to chase him away.
-How can we trust you again that you brought to us a complete stranger as your relative? Luckily nothing bad has happened so far. But we are still skeptical about Arnold. May be he has other surprise plans to harm us. Will you be able to protect us from Arnold?
-No mama. I don’t think Arnold is a bad man. He loved your husband very much. He respected you also. Also he loved Vicky and Rosy very much.
- Then can you tell me why he wanted to work in our house?
- He gave me one month’s salary on top of your salary and told me to go on leave. I went to my village for one week and came back. One day I passed by to see the things in the house and I was happy that everything was fine. I met Arnold many times later. He always told me good things about this house. He did not tell me that he is going to foreign country for studies.
- Where do you meet him usually?
-In his mother’s hotel, in the centre.
-Did Vicky and Rosy also went to the hotel
-Yes. Arnold told his mother that I am his friend and Vicky and Rosy are my sisters.
Lucy was more confused than ever. Unthinkable thoughts disturbed her mind-“Did Arnold abuse my daughters?”
-I want to meet Arnold’s mother. Can you take me there?
-Yes mama. When?
-Now? But I …
-There is no but. Let us go.
Lucy was shocked again to find the hotel her children and servant were talking about was her and her friends’ favourite restaurant. They liked the small but neat restaurant. The prices were affordable. The atmosphere was pleasant. The location was comfortable. On top of all, Lucy and her friends liked the restaurant owner. They nicknamed Grace as Pretty lady. Lucy dismissed Bakari before entering the restaurant.
Grace welcomed her warmly as usual and asked her why she was alone. Lucy had to lie-she had problems with her husband. As the school where she worked was closed for holidays, she had to come alone. She needed a shoulder to cry on and she thought of her.
Grace was moved.
She offered Lucy a glass of juice and asked her to wait while she was taking orders for her customers. When she was free, she approached Lucy with a broad smile. Lucy was irritated more. But when Grace started talking, all her irritation and anxiety melted slowly. Grace teased her:-
“Why on earth you thought of me? I am the last person who can advice a woman about a husband.
She laughed at first, then became serious and continued talking at low voice.
-I never had a husband. The only man I have is my son. Now that he has gone also I feel very lonely.
-Where has he gone?
The smile had come back on Grace’s face. Her eyes started sparkling again. Lucy started relaxing. The pretty lady seated in front of her, had hypnotizing effects on her.
-Oh, he has gone to Australia to study, 3 years course. I don’t know whether I will be able to tolerate all these long days.
-Let us forget about my husband. I am feeling better now. Tell me about your son.
Grace talked. Lucy listened. The pretty lady knew how to tell stories. In between, they were disturbed by customers. Grace attended both sides-her customers and her attention seeker. Lucy started understanding Arnold more and more. But she had not found yet the clue to the motif of Arnold’s working at their place.
-I am already feeling better. I should leave you to attend to your customers now. Thank you for everything.
-You are welcome my dear any day, any time; in fact every day. I need somebody to talk to also.
Lucy took her purse and was about to pay for the juice. Grace refused, told her she was like her sister and it was her pleasure to have met her. Lucy came with an offensive mood and walked out with a tamed and calm mood. She noticed that Grace never mentioned about Arnold’s father. She did not like to go deeper and cause suspicion. Soon she would find out. For a day she had collected more than enough information.
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