Determination – Part 10
By Thiyam Ningol Dr. Nalini
The next day at lunch time, he passed by Grace’s place just to make sure that Grace was really ok. He wore a sunglass and half covered his face with the news paper he was holding. Through the half opened door, he saw a glimpse of Grace, vibrant and charming as ever, talking to her customer. He turned back quickly and drove. He could relax at last. While driving back to his office, he had a strange feeling-a feeling of wanting to turn back the car and have a second look at Grace. Was it jealousy or love he did not know but he knew he was getting crazy. He had to go to his office and keep himself occupied with work. He needed to talk to John quickly. He could not wait to hear from John. He took out his mobile and dialed. They agreed to meet at 4 PM. He had 2 hours to kill time.
When John arrived, the secretary ushered him straight to Alex’s office unlike the other days when he had to wait while the secretary would be talking through the intercom, get the permission. He found Alex very tense and restless. His look made John slightly nervous.
-Is everything ok Alex?
The question was replied by another question;-
-Do you remember Grace, the beautiful girl in our primary school?
John smiled to himself. His satellite was focused on the correct spot. His instinct was correct. It was not the restaurant Alex was interested, it was the owner.
-Yes I do and I still meet her very often. That day you were asking about a restaurant Grace. Haven’t you gone there?
-I went and I saw her.
-Isn’t she still beautiful? I think she is even prettier than before.
-How much do you know about her?
-Man! Don’t tell me you have fallen for her also. Don’t waste your time. That lady is untouchable.
-Just tell me all what you know about her.
John would never get tired of talking about Grace. John was of a rare species. He admired people with success. He envied his friends who had managed to attain high posts. He would never ask for a favour from them, he was just content to be an acquaintance of the successful friends. He knew his limits and kept himself strictly within his boundaries. That was how he earned his respect from his successful friends. And Grace was one of his friends whom he admired and respected.
John saw Grace once when she was very pregnant. She was staying with her aunt in the same village where John lived. They did not have the chance to greet each other. When Grace saw him, she went for hiding. Every holiday he came home, he tried to trace Grace but her aunt refused to give any information about Grace. After 2/3 years he had completely forgotten about her.
After about 10 years, one day John and his colleague went for a quick meal. There he found Grace. She had become skinny, darker and frailer. But the glamour had not vanished. She greeted him warmly. She had accepted her position in the society. Later, John visited her several times. By then Arnold was a primary school student. They have met several times. John encouraged her to be self-dependent. He observed her potentials and will to advance. He, being an accounts clerk, could give her advices for further developments in her business. His wife helped her to connect with an NGO who provided microfinance loans. John’s wife had tried several means to find out about Arnold’s father, but Grace never revealed to anyone. She simply answered;-
-I made a mistake in my early age but I do not regret that I got Arnold. He is my sun in the day time and moon at night. He keeps me moving ahead. And I thank the man for making me Arnold’s mother. I do not know where he is and what he is doing and I do not intend to find out.
John had seen Grace progressing. He and his wife persuaded Grace to go for small courses arranged by SIDO and other organizations. Her poor English knowledge made her slow to develop. She corrected it by joining English courses.
Friends, including John and his wife had suggested her to get married. She had many admirers. But she turned down all the advices and offers for settlement.
While John was talking, Alex was not looking at him. His right hand was playing with the spinning paper weight. His eyes were fixed on the blank paper under the paperweight. From time to time he would stop the paperweight from spinning and hold so tight that his knuckles would go all white. John noticed Alex’s tense mood but whenever he talked about Grace to anybody who knew her, it was more or less the same reaction. Few commented that Grace deserved it. She was proud of her beauty and that beauty had put her in the right place. To many, Grace’s story was inspirational.
- If only she could give me the name of that bastard who made her pregnant, I could wring his neck and punish him for all her sufferings.
John was not so sure whether Alex heard all what he was talking about Grace.
-Really I will kill him.
-I am the bastard. I made her pregnant.
John laughed aloud sarcastically.
-Now that she is successful and she had regained her colour and beauty, everybody wants to claim himself responsible. My friend! many have tried and failed with the same trick. Forget about approaching her. I think she still is waiting for Arnold’s father. I will not be surprised if she is still a virgin.
-Stop it. I told you I made her pregnant. Read it. Read this note from Arnold and you will believe me.
John read the note 3 times. Every time he read, he got more confused.
-I don’t understand anything. It’s you of all the people, my Gosh! Where were you all these years?
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