Determination – Part 6
By Thiyam Ningol Dr. Nalini
When Alex came back from his trip, he found his old houseboy had resumed his job. Bakari was a good and faithful house boy but Alex got so used to Arnold that without any reason, he felt indifferent towards Bakari. He asked Bakari about Arnold and the simple answer came “I don’t know”.
-When you needed his help, you knew where to get him and now that your problem is over, you don’t know where he is?
-Really sir, I don’t know where he is. It is he who found me.
At that moment Lucy, Alex’s wife, brought out the envelope, gave it to Alex.
-By the way, Arnold left it for you. He said you asked for his certificates.
Alex remembered their discussion.
-Oh yes. He is still young and intelligent. I thought I could help him to get some little more studies if he is interested.
It was Saturday. But Alex had to go to his office to finish writing up the report of his business trip. He promised Lucy to compromise it with a romantic dinner at a restaurant. He took along Arnold’s envelope.
After he finished compiling his report, he was about to leave the office, then he remembered the envelope. He opened it hurriedly. Ignored the small note. There were three certificates. The first certificate he pulled out was a Form VI certificate. Looked at the name “Arnold George” was written in neat Italics. He glanced at the other certificates-the same name “Arnold George” was printed. He was confused and at the same time felt angry and cheated. Picked up the small note. The neat hand writing showed the sign of literacy.
First time he read, he did not understand. He re-read. He could not believe it. He read again and again. He was staring at the little note, did not see any writings any more.
A smiling face stared back at him, teasing him. Shook his head vigorously. Tried to clear his mind. Chain of memories was flashing in front of his eyes. Dropped back in his executive chair again. “The slim figure clad in the wet white blouse was running in front of him, towards the shade of the huge mango tree. … He was following her…..The rain drops were filtering through the leaves of the mango tree…. Through the transparent wet blouse, he was seeing the youthfulness of the girl…..He closed his eyes…He was possessed completely.”
He shuddered with a jolt. To his greatest shame, he found his trouser wet. Throughout his married life he had never cheated his wife. He never even thought of having such a situation.
Felt guilty towards Arnold. His son whose existence he never knew was in his house. When he looked back, he started remembering some fine features of somebody in Arnold, somebody whom he engraved and buried deep in his heart. He could not understand the circumstances which made Arnold to come and work in his house. “Has Grace abandoned him; has he been mistreated by his step father”- thousand questions disturbed him.
He was sure about one thing –whosoever brought up Arnold had to be a civilized, cultured person. The mature nature, the admirable manner of a young person like Arnold had to be the result of good upbringing. He regretted why he never bothered to enquire about Arnold’s whereabouts. What must have happened to Grace!
He had no doubt a pretty and smart girl like Grace would have not found difficult to get a man. A man?? He asked himself “Am I a man enough? After getting the precious gift from a precious girl, I never thanked her enough. The troubles she must have undergone with her pregnancy at the tender age must have tortured her. Is Grace still alive really?he could no longer sit there. Stood up and walked out of his office but did not know where to go. He had to find this restaurant “Grace.”
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