‘That is impossible, I’ve had enough of this rubbish; never will I trust any human being again.’ Tara exclaimed. And then hot tears from the bowel of a hurt heart began to cascade freely down the front of a well-cut skirt suit.
Laying a placatory palm on her right shoulder, I offered her my handkerchief and said: ‘You won’t do a thing like that, you will continue to trust and cherish human beings for as long as you live. She collected the handkerchief and raised a tear stained countenance at me, ‘what!’ she exclaimed the second time, ‘after all that has happened to me because I trusted, you still want me to continue trusting human beings?’
‘Yes, you have to,’ I had not concluded the statement when she clutched her chest and let out a long spasm of cough. I ran inside my room, picked the pitcher of water on my reading table, snatched a glass cup from the same table and ran outside; she was still in the hold of the cough. She collected the glass of water and drank it in one gulp; the second cup went the same way. While she was collecting the third cup, my mind replayed the harbinger of my niece’s current state of near- hysteria.
Tara had entered into a partnership with her childhood friend, Simi, buying and selling trinkets. A consummate trinket trader who had cut her teeth from her accomplished trinket-selling parents; Tara had no difficulties initiating her friend into the nitty-gritty of the trade. The partnership, aided by the bond of friendship, blossomed. However, the togetherness was nearly marred by the sudden death of Simi’s husband in a road mishap because the widow lost interest in everything especially the trinket business. However, the bond of friendship came to the rescue again: Tara nursed her friend’s enthusiasm back to normalcy and she eventually invited her to live in the apartment she shared with her live in lover. Three months later, in her first business trip after her husband’s death, Simi eloped with Tara’s fiancé and the ten thousand pounds she was to purchase trinkets with.
Tara did not believe she had lost her potential husband to her best friend until she saw one of the wedding pictures of the couple. It was taken in Johannesburg. They were kissing passionately; Tara fainted; she was under intensive care for days.
‘Uncle,’ Tara’s voice jerked me back to the present.
‘Yes, you have to continue believing in the people, with whom you interact,’ I stammered.
‘How do you expect me to continue believing people after all I have experienced in the hands of my friend?’ she asked resignedly.
‘It’s very simple, you must determine what you can trust each person you interact with, and that is the secret.’
She nodded doubtfully, a forlorn look on her face.
‘You are not convinced?’
‘Okay, let us approach it from this point of view, for instance you have used my handkerchief to wipe your tears.’
‘And you trust me enough to drink the water I brought for you’
‘But you are different, you are not Simi so you can’t behave like her,’ she countered.
‘Who told you I couldn’t behave like her?’
She spun on the raffia-covered stool she had been sitting and stood up abruptly. ‘You could?’ she knitted her brows in pure astonishment.
‘My point of view is this,’ I hurriedly interjected, ‘you can’t trust me that I can’t poison you because I could have sprinkled the handkerchief with powdered cyanide or doctored the water. May be you have forgotten that if you cease to exist today, I am the only beneficiary of your inheritance. But I won’t do a thing like that because I am not that way inclined.’
She nodded slowly as she contemplated the thrust of my argument. We were too absorbed in our different reverie that we did not hear the mild commotion caused by a courier agent who had parked his motorcycle outside my apartment.
‘Miss Tara Bucknor?’ the agent asked hitching an eyebrow. ‘Let me take that on her behalf,’ I said fearing the agent might be delivering another damning photograph. . When I ripped the package open, it contained a beautiful gold trinket which spackled and glittered as it slithered from the envelope onto my palm. A cute greeting card fell from the package; I picked it up and read the tiny inscriptions on the card: ‘my dear Tara, the necklace you lend me is hereby returned. Expect a consignment of trinkets worth five thousand pounds next Wednesday. I hope you understand. My husband sends his greetings’. Simi signed it. A smile was forming at the corners of my mouth as I pushed the package at my sniffing niece.
I allowed her to finish reading the content of the card and examined the gold necklace before I asked whether she now understood the point I was making.
‘No uncle,’ she was vehement. When I did not react to her outburst, she continued, ‘what is happening here is clearly an afterthought, it is a ploy which a cunning mind can format and configure.’ All the while the necklace had arrested her attention as she continuously turned it over in her palm. When she raised her head up, her countenance was clouded with deep-seated pains in conflict with an emotional longing. She spoke with some agitation: ‘uncle, can’t you see that these conniving tortoises are playing to the gallery, this she waved the greeting card in my face ‘is supposed to mean they are repentant, humane or what? She even has the temerity, the audacity to call my man her husband.’
I shook my head at the irony and quickly interrupted her before the illusion became a serious psychological involvement: ‘you have no right to continue thinking your ex lover is still your man. Always bear it in mind that he is married to your best friend that is a fact you and I can not reverse.’
My niece looked at me sharply with ‘can it be true expression’ written all over her face; I nodded slowly to confirm the message her countenance had conveyed. She sat down dejectedly.
I stood up and approached her with the air of a bishop mounting the pulpit. I stopped in front of her and delivered what appeared the last part of my sermon: ‘You have to determine what you should trust each individual you meet and interact with by the nature and quality of their respective behavior. Yes, your best friend and your ex lover might have played to the gallery like you said but we should not forget that they have been magnanimous. Your present predicament should teach you that you cannot trust the likes of Simi with your man but you can trust them with your money and other chattels.’
‘What!’ Tara shouted. Before I could react to her vituperation she said: ‘anybody who could snatch one’s potential spouse is a killer with fresh blood dripping from her sword.’
‘You have assumed it was Simi who snatched your man; has it ever occurred to you that it might be your man who snatched your best friend from you.’
‘As my best friend, must she have consented?’ she asked thoughtfully.
‘Que sera sera’
‘What is that?’
‘It’s a French expression, meaning, what will be will be’ I explained, ‘it is very significant in this situation.’
‘Your ex lover may not be good for you at the end of the day may be that is why his elopement with your best friend is a success. Whatever happens to us in life has a purpose and we must be courageous enough to accept our fate. What can not be cured must be endured.’ I concluded.
My niece sighed deeply and nodded slowly.
‘Give it a serious thought,’ I opined.
‘Thank you, uncle, I think you are right,’ she said soothingly as she gave me a big hug.
‘That’s my gal,’ I drawled.