It was one of those mornings in spring when I wake up feeling up beat and roaring to go. A day that I don’t usually have. I should have suspected but I did not. I was so charged that in dressing up and going to wait for Mika’s car, my usually non-observant husband saw my radiating self and asked.
What’s new? Is there going to be a party at the office today?
No party. Why do you ask?
You are looking primed to go. You are oozing radiating vibes from all your pores.
Nothing is happening. Is it wrong for a woman to preen herself and dress well?
Nothing. I hope you won’t be going to my cousin’s place in Northbridge, today being Friday?
Why do you ask?
No reason. I wanted to know so that I can plan my own movement after work.
No, I won’t be going to the restaurant
Okay then…but… but you are beautiful today.
My husband put the car into gear and drove towards my office since he has to drop me before going to his work place in Subiaco. I was shocked because that was the first time in some years that Mikhail complimented me on my dressing or looks. I was shocked to the point of saying nothing. If I had known what was in stock for me, I could have prepared my mind.
The campus was on semester break and it was the summer break in December. There were few students and staff on campus and our work in the University multi-media and reprographic store were at its lowest ebb. I had enough time to rest after the hectic work of the preceding month when examinations were on. I usually use this period to rest from the rat-race treadmill that I had always been on since the beginning of the year. So, after Mika dropped me at the staff car park, I leisurely walked to my office, opened the shop and started the day’s work. There were few visitors and I was chatting with Fong, the Chinese Chef from the Cafeteria when he walked in. It was a “Sicilian lightning bolt” for both of us. As if we were destined to relate, someone came to call Fong away.
Good morning Maam
What can I do for you?
I dropped a copy of my proposal with your second yesterday for photocopy and binding and I needed to get them now for my supervisor.
His spoken English was a bit too fast for me to comprehend but I understood what he was saying. However, for some time I was looking at him or was it staring? He was wondering what must have happened to me.
Oh, what was the topic of the proposal?
On the path of Right.
I went through the works, which my lethargic assistant, Florentine had arranged on her desk and gave the work to him. As he stretched his hand to collect the work, I felt some electric vibes in my being. I did not count it as something. He gave me the money for the work but it was incomplete, it was fifteen Australian dollars less than the fifty dollars he was meant to give me. He returned the photocopied material to me.
Ma, I will come back tomorrow and collect. I don’t have the correct amount of money with me. I would also be unable to come back today since I had to wait for the payment of our stipend tomorrow.
No, you don’t need to return it since you said you wanted to submit it now. Take it away and when you come tomorrow, you can pay the balance.
Yes. You can.
Do I need to put my ID card or something as proof of my coming back tomorrow?
No, you do not need, you look like a gentleman who can be trusted.
Thank you Ma. Thank you.
He collected the work and went out of the shop. I looked at his disappearing back for some time before I went back to listening to my music – Micheal Bublé – ‘Me and Mrs Jones’. The next day, he came early in the morning with the money and a thank you card. I was pleasantly surprised. To think of a man appreciating a simple gesture like I did was a new thing to me. My husband has reached the stage of nonchalance that whatever I did means nothing to him. So to see this young man appreciating just a token of help was a big surprise to me. For some days after the incident, he did not come to my shop but slowly I started looking forward towards seeing him. Then, some few days to Christmas, he dropped a Christmas card and a short novel for me in the office. In the book he penned some lines, appreciating my gesture to him and thanking we for saving his integrity in front of his supervisor. We did not see again until the next year.
One thing led to the other, but what really brought us close was one great help he needed which he did not discuss with me but which I helped him on.
Morning Angelithika, how was your weekend?
Fine. How can I help you?
I have to make copies of this book for an assignment tomorrow.
Let me have it. But… are you okay?
You are not looking well. What’s bothering you?
Are you sure? You are really not looking well?
It’s my landlord.
Yes, he sold our apartment and we have to leave before the end of the week. I need a new place. If you hear of any, let me know. I don’t want a place that is far from the Uni.
I will be on the look out and inform you if I get any.
I didn’t get the place for him. He finally got a place not far from my house. However, I didn’t tell him that was my area. He moved in to the house and after some weeks I informed him where I was living. There was still nothing between us. However, he had become more frequent in my shop. I encouraged his visits because he is funny, witty and pleasant. Some months after he moved into the new house, he moved again because he had to travel out of Australia and his landlord did not want to retain the house for him. When he told me he would be away for one year to his country for field study, I was depressed. Depressed because he had become a part of the shop and even the mousy Florentine had accepted him. He comes in at various times to joke with us in the shop and contribute to whatever we were doing in the office. What even made me more depressed was an incident that happened one day. As I said earlier, there were some periods in the office when our work comes in torrents. On such days I worked late. On one of such days I was still at work around eight o clock at night when my phone rang.
Hello—–hello, Who is this?
It’s me. Don’t you recognize my voice?
Ha, how are you? Are you still on campus?
No, I am at home. What about you?
I am still in the office.
Still in the office? At this time? Who will take you home? I’ll call for a taxi. Okay.
I was surprised to find him some thirty minutes after in my office. He had come to keep me company and escort me home so that nothing happens to me. All his actions went a great length to show the uncaring, nonchalant attitude of the person who had been my husband and father of my children for more than thirty years. Naturally I drew towards my new friend. He came back from his country around February this year. During the period of his absence I realized how much I had become attached to him. So when he came back I went for the first time to welcome him back from home. When you put a woman who had been deprived of amorous relationship for more than two years together with a young man, she fancies in a conducive atmosphere, what you have is a combustible affair between the two. I could not hold myself back as I hugged him and all my sexual instincts were ignited. One thing led to the other and we made love. Some days after the act we each stayed away from each other and I went into a guilt trip. He was the first person who had ever made love to me after Mikhail deflowered me. I had guilt all over me, a product of my orthodox Christian upbringing and the strict principles burnished into me by my parents. So two weeks after the event, I invited him to a small Japanese restaurant on Beaufort Street and asked that we should discontinue the relationship. It was then I knew that he was married with children at his home country. His looks belied his age. We both agreed never to visit each other at home and to restrict our relationship to just being friends. If only I had known that nothing is ever hidden. If only I had known that once can lead to pregnancy. If only, if only I had not committed that act of adultery with him, if only I had known, I won’t be in this quagmire.