Determination - Part 12
By Thiyam Ningol Dr. Nalini
The nail had hit the nucleus. Grace realized the sudden interest of Lucy in her and Arnold was not co incidental. Lucy knew Arnold very well. That showed that Arnold had contacted Alex and Lucy despite her warning. Then she remembered few days back, somebody came to visit her; she remembered faintly the man reminded her of Alex and how she lost conscious at the sight of the man. She was sure then that the man was really Alex.
A chill feeling passed sharply through her spines. She knew her son would not do anything bad intentionally. But she could not pretend not to worry. She had to do something to defend Arnold’s misdeeds if at all he had done any.
-Lucy, I think we need to talk but not here now in the presence of the kids. Can we meet tomorrow somewhere?
-Why tomorrow? It is my married life which is affected. Do you have any idea what your son has done to my family?
-No, I have no idea. But I still think we should not discuss anything in front of the children.
-Fine. I am taking them home and I am coming back.
She did not wait for Grace’s answer. She held the hands of the children and almost pulled them to the car.
In a corner, under the shade of a huge, mango tree, John was talking to Alex on phone
-Alex, things are not looking good. Your wife and children are here in Grace’s restaurant. Wait a second! Lucy is going out pulling the children.
She looks angry. I hope they were not discussing about the same issue.
Alex simply listened, could not say a word. John advised him to talk out to Lucy. If he would wait longer, it would make Lucy all the more angry and it would complicate the matter.
While Alex was contemplating how to make the first step, his mobile phone rang.
-Alex where are you? Please come and stay with the children. I have to go and attend a marriage committee meeting of one of our staff members.
Alex knew she was lying. Lucy would never forget to inform him beforehand about her social activities. She never needed a permission, she knew very well Alex was always supportive of her activities and he would very dutifully baby sit the children. Alex invited John to join him baby sitting.
Lucy was still fuming when she came back to talk to Grace but Grace was prepared. One time or the other the secret would have come out. She would have wanted to delay but she was not sure if Arnold would wait. She knew the time had come.
Grace had instructed her manager to take charge of the evening; she welcomed Lucy to her inner office.
Lucy seated very uncomfortably in the easy chair. The pretty lady started rolling out her untold story. When she reached the part where she met the captain of the night and how she spent the night amidst the beggars, Grace had to stop for a while because Lucy was sobbing uncontrollably. Grace had tears rolling on her cheeks but she was very poised. When Lucy cooled down a bit she continued.
She told Lucy about her first business enterprise-business of doughnuts with a starting capital of shillings 2000 and how she cheated her customers by telling that the recipe of the doughnuts was from Europe. They both laughed.
-During all those days, you never remembered Alex?
-I remembered him sometimes but I knew I would never meet him. So the memories did not last long and moreover I was much occupied with my problems. I worked the whole day, so the moment I put my head on the pillow, I was already asleep.
When Grace reached the point where for the first time Arnold saw Alex on the TV programme, Lucy’s mood changed again. Few minutes ago, she was sympathizing Grace, she was feeling sorry for her and for Arnold. The mention of her husband’s name reminded her of the motif of her coming and the flames of anger within her were lighted afresh.
-So you told him that was his father?
-No Lucy no. It was not an easy moment. I did not recognize him either. The announcer mentioned his name, so I came to know.
Lucy was eager to know more but at the same time she was not sure if she was ready to hear the remaining parts of the story. She stopped Grace for a while and phoned Alex to enquire about the children. She was told the children were enjoying.
It was Grace who requested Lucy to stay for a bit longer, she too was anxious to know what Arnold had done to Lucy, Alex and their family as she claimed.
Grace continued. Lucy could not detect any trace of lies. But Grace mentioned about the change of behaviour in Arnold; he was more occupied then before, when asked he told her that he was preparing for his final secondary exams and he had a lot of projects.
-After getting his scholarship sponsorship confirmed, he became more sociable. While waiting for his travel to Australia, he helped some of his friends to do some project and that was when he met with Bakari and the children and perhaps his family.
-That is all what happened to me, my son and I did not have any idea that he had met with Alex and you. May be now you tell me what Arnold has done to your family.
Lucy did not know where to start. But when she mentioned that Arnold was working for one month in their house in place of Bakari, Grace was surprised but not ashamed. She and Arnold had learnt to survive embarrassing and uncomfortable situations to overcome poverty but they worked and earned with dignity. She knew her son very well. She knew he would not harm anybody. But she was sorry that Arnold had not confided in her about his contact with Alex and his family. Lucy had not mentioned any negative incident about Arnold, she and the children rather missed him. She truly expressed her confusion why Arnold worked in their house.
Grace promised Lucy that she would find it out from Arnold the next day. She would phone him and get in touch with her as soon as she heard from him.
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