“We’ve been looking forward to this moment all week.” He moved a loose strand of hair from her face. “I hope you’re not having second thoughts.”
Renuka felt a heaviness in her heart. Her eyes were fixed on the old dilapidated building that was in dire need of painting. “I…I just thought…” She fiddled with her fingers on her lap.
“I told you there’s nothing to worry about. I’ll take care of everything,” Denesh coaxed. “If you’re feeling shy you can wait here while I go in, and when I return we’ll go through the back. Would you prefer that?”
She lowered her head and nodded. She was afraid that if she tried to speak, the looming tears would escape.
He returned a few minutes later and led her inside the building. They walked up the stairs, then through the narrow corridor and stopped in front of a door. Renuka blushed when she heard the moans and hushed voices coming from the other rooms. Denesh took out a key from his pocket and after some difficulty with the lock, he led her inside. He switched on the lights and turned on the standing fan. He adjusted it so it was directed on the small bed to the left of the room. A kerosene lamp and ashtray were on a night stand next to the bed, all of which had seen better days. On the right was a tiny washroom that was partly hidden by a door desperately hanging on to one hinge. Renuka’s heart sank.
“I know it’s not much but what matters most is that we’re together, just you and me.” He walked towards her with a broad smile and reached for the top button of her blouse. Her petite body was dwarfed by his large frame.
She turned away and wrapped her arms protectively across her chest. “You think your parents go be mad when you tell them about we?” She focused on a dirty spot on the wall.
“They’ll understand once I tell them how I feel about you. They want me to be happy.”
“So how come you didn’t tell them before?”
Denesh stole a glance at his watch and ran his fingers through his thick dark hair. “I have to find the right time and I will, so just relax and everything will be okay.” He removed his shirt and reached for her blouse again. “All you have to do is trust me.” This time she did not protest.
Renuka woke up very early the next morning. Memories of the previous evening with Denesh were constant in her mind and she walked around with a silly smile on her face.
“Ma gone in the market already?” Renuka joined Mala in the kitchen.
“Yeah, pa carry she.” Mala took a sip of her tea. “She say for you to wash the clothes and I go help she prepare lunch.”
Renuka fixed her tea and breakfast and sat in the chair opposite to her.
“I find you in a strange mood since yesterday,” Mala said after observing her for a while. “For that matter, you moving strange a while now, but today you just looking different.”
“Why you say that?” Renuka avoided any eye contact.
“You just have some kinda glow this morning.”
Renuka clasped both hands around her teacup. “You must be seeing things.”
“If you say so.” Mala shrugged her shoulders and studied her for a while. “You work late yesterday? I thought you does finish one o’ clock.”
“Yeah, but they ask if we could stay and pack up some goods that come in, so I was glad for the extra money.” Renuka felt guilty at how easily she lied.
Mala lifted her teacup to her lips and from above its brim, she studied her younger sister.
“You get your A-level results yet?” Renuka was anxious to change the topic.
“No, but I go pass for sure, and then I going and sign up for nursing,” Mala replied. “What about you? You decide what you doing yet? You can’t work for Maharaj’s Variety Store for the rest of your life.”
“I know, but I will hold on for a while and save up some money. When I get my CXC results then I go see.”
“What about teaching? You always like children so you could make a good teacher.”
“I was thinking about that.”
Renuka was thankful that Mala did not continue to press her on her whereabouts the day before.
Denesh had not tried to meet her since they had spent that evening together. She had only seen him once when he had made a quick visit to the store. She had tried to get his attention, but he complained that he was busy and promised to meet her soon.
That was one month ago.
Vashti Bowlah is a writer from Trinidad and Tobago, and a participant of The Cropper Foundation/UWI Creative Writers' Residential Workshop. Her short stories, articles and poems have appeared in newspapers, journals and anthologies, and she continues to pursue her passion for writing, with special focus on the short story. She has won prizes and awards for her writing, including The David Hough Literary Prize awarded by The Caribbean Writer. She also freelances as an editor/proofreader. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org