(Continued from A Complete Family VI)
George opens the door with one hand, the other holding a box of chocolates.
“Baby I am home,” he says. At first, calling Karambu ‘baby’ or ‘sweetheart’ sounded wrong. But he constantly reminded himself that Rose has another lover, one who has already made her pregnant. Now, a month later, calling Karambu pet names comes naturally. Besides, she has truly been a darling.
At his urging, she has already left employment at Rajul’s place to focus on her pregnancy and prepare for childbirth. She only has one month left before the baby comes.
“Welcome home sweetheart,” she says, wiping her hands on her lesso. She was in the kitchen doing dishes when she heard him call out. Immediately she sees the box of chocolates she squeals in delight and jumps into his arms, giving him as tight a hug as her huge belly can allow. George places the box on the table then cups her face in his hands and kisses her.
Behind them, Jacinta sneers.
“Thank you for the chocolates babe,” Karambu says. George strokes her cheek gently with his thumb.
“You are welcome, my love,”
“Do you want a cup of tea first, or do you want to shower first?”
“I think I will shower first,”
George breaks away from her and then heads to his bedroom, while Karambu goes back to the kitchen. Neither of them says a word to Jacinta. George never speaks to his mother ever since Rose left the house. All the conversations in that house were previously between Jacinta and Karambu, but with the newfound romance between her son and Karambu, Jacinta has unexpectedly found herself in a domestic Siberia.
“Why are you doing this to me, George?” she asks her son when he comes back from the bathroom and settles to take the tea that Karambu has already placed on the table.
“You and your girlfriend are not treating me right. Do not forget that I am your mother, and I am the one who brought her to you. If I didn’t bring her, who would you be romancing with?”
“With Rose, mother. Lest you forget, I had a perfect marriage with a woman I loved before you intruded in my life. And why are you here anyway? Weren’t you supposed to leave when Karambu became pregnant? Isn’t that what you said?”
“Are you chasing me?”
“Mother you know if it were up to me you would not have spent a single night in this house,”
“I will leave when I want. And I demand to be treated with respect. Tell your woman that,”
“Karambu treats you with respect. I have never heard her say anything disrespectful, or even raise her voice at you,”
“She pretends to be an angel when you come in the evening, but during the day when we are all alone she treats me like trash. The other day she called me, to my face, a ‘desperate old hag’. Can you imagine that son? I am actually thinking Rose was a better woman,”
“You kicked out Rose and brought Karambu. Shouldn’t you be happy that I am falling in love with her?”
“I should find Rose and apologise. She was way better than this dragon of a woman you have here,”
George is laughing now.
“I doubt Rose wants to see your face. You called her a barren witch, remember? Anyway, you are the one who dragged the dragon into my house,” he replies, his eyes twinkling. “And I have fallen in love with ‘it’. I loved the so-called witch, but you chased her away. You brought me, in your words, a dragon, and when I fall in love with her, you start complaining. What do you want anyway?”
“Just to be treated like a mother in my son’s house. Is that too much to ask?”
“Mother, you said you would leave when Karambu became pregnant. She is now eight months pregnant and you do not look like you are going anywhere. Why don’t you pack your things and go back to your husband? Leave me and my dragon in peace.”
“How sure are you that that baby she is carrying is yours?”
George is suddenly alert.
“What do you mean mother?”
Karambu, who has been listening to the conversation from behind the kitchen door, knows she has to intervene before Jacinta says something stupid. She enters the room with a bowl of fruits and places them on the table next to George, then sits next to him.
“Dinner will be ready soon darling,” she says, placing her head in his shoulder in such a way that she can blaze her eyes at Jacinta without George noticing.
“You were saying something Mother,” George says impatiently. Jacinta looks at Karambu defiantly.
“I just think that the day Karambu allegedly became pregnant you were too drunk to have made a baby. I just learned the other day that she had a boyfriend before she came here. How sure are we that she is not carrying her ex-boyfriend’s pregnancy pretending it is yours?”
Karambu gasps loudly.
“Mother, how can you say that? Which boyfriend? I have never had a boyfriend because my mother always taught me to wait for the right man. And George is the right man. That is why I did not complain even when he roughed me up when he was having his way with me. Or when he was treating me coldly. Because he is the only man I have ever loved. Besides, George doesn’t consume alcohol, so how could he have been drunk? True, he was acting strangely, but he did not have the smell of alcohol. And I should know because he kissed me. Or do you know why George was acting strangely that night? Did you give him something that made him rape me?”
Jacinta is vindictive, but she is not stupid. She knows Karambu is boxing her into a corner.
“No, I was just wondering,” she replies with a sigh. But Karambu is not done.
“What is your problem mother? You told me that George’s wife was stressing him and had even tried to kill him. That he was divorcing her and wanted a wife who would make him happy. Turns out it was a lie, and George and Rose were actually very much in love. And now, when George and I are finally finding happiness with each other, you are bringing issues and accusing me of all manner of things. Is it that you do not want George to be happy? Because I don’t think Rose and I are the issue. I think you just don’t want your son to be happy with another woman. You can have him to yourself mother. I am leaving.”
Karambu bursts into tears and runs to her room and locks the door. She leans on it and listens. She is a fine actress. Her tears flow at will. She can sound sincere while lying through the teeth. By bringing Rose into the discussion, Karambu has reminded George how his mother ruined his previous marriage. With that one blow, she has destroyed the credibility of Jacinta in the eyes of her son.
George is confused. He desperately wanted to believe his mother, because deep within him he wants Rose back. And if Karambu’s baby is not his, then there is a chance. He could still do what he should have done in the first place. Get rid of both of them and fight for Rose’s love.
He knows Rose loves him. And if she hears that he did not sleep with Karambu, and that her pregnancy is not his, then maybe she might reconsider her marriage to her new man and come back home.
But at the same time, what Karambu said makes a lot of sense. Maybe he actually slept with her and the baby is his. Maybe his mother is just being herself. Maybe she just wants to ruin this budding relationship the way she ruined his marriage to Rose. Besides, he might kick out Karambu and then Rose refuses to come home. After all, she is pregnant for the other guy, and that complicates things. Because, even if she comes home, who will be the father of the baby? He, George, or Mr. New Guy, the child’s biological father? That alone might tilt the scales in favor of Mr. New Guy.
He sighs deeply.
“Mother, I think you should go home. You have a husband to take care of, and I have a wife to take care of. Tomorrow, pack your things and go.”
“This woman is dangerous, son. I am not going to leave until she is out of this house.”
“Suit yourself. But I don’t want to hear any complaints against her ever again. And if you assault her when I am away, because I know you love violence, I will not hesitate to have you arrested and locked up.”
He stands and heads to his bedroom, but then remembers that Karambu had said that food was almost ready. He goes to the kitchen, switches off the gas cooker, serves two plates and walks with them to Karambu’s room.
When she hears George dismissing his mother and rising, Karambu quickly takes her suitcase, places it on the bed and starts throwing her clothes in it as if she is packing angrily. She summons her tears again. When George knocks at the door, she opens slowly and returns to her packing.
“What are you doing?” George asks, standing at the doorway.
“I am packing. I am going to my mother’s house. At least there I am loved,” she replies.
George gets in, places the food on the bedside table and closes the door. Then he wraps his hands around Karambu.
“This is your home baby. You are not going anywhere. Okay? I allowed her to ruin my marriage once, I will not let her do it again, okay? Now, we need to eat,” he says softly.
He takes the suitcase from the bed and places it at a corner. Then he walks Karambu to the bed where the food is waiting.
“Thank you for loving me,” Karambu says before they sit down. George squeezes her waist and pecks her cheeks, and for a moment, they look at each other adoringly.
Karambu smiles. She has won round one in the war against Jacinta. But that is a battle that Jacinta started. She, Karambu, will strike back with vengeance.
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