HIS father’s voice seemed to be coming from afar as he introduced his young bride.
“Alvin, this is my wife, Marissa.”
She smiled pleasantly as though she was seeing him for the first time but behind the smile, he saw a flicker of surprise. His father put his arm around his shoulder, a proud look on his face as he now introduced him.
“Marissa, this is my son, Alvin.”
The smile froze on her face and disbelief flashed in her eyes.
“Yeah, I am seeing him now after ten years.”
The father hadn’t missed the surprised looks on both their faces but understanding why Marissa would be, he asked Alvin, “I am guessing no one told you about her?”
“It was mentioned casually,” he answered, “But I was not told she was such a…”
“Young woman?” his father finished for him.
Alvin nodded and smiled a little apologetically, still somehow stunned.
They sat down for dinner and he noticed how relaxed and happy his father was, a pleasant tone in his voice and Alvin silently questioned, “Does he know what he is doing, married to a woman more than half his age who parties at nightclubs as a single woman?”
After dinner his father requested he join him in the study for a few drinks so they can continue their conversation. She stayed for a little while then excused herself ‘Good night’ and to Alvin she said, “It was nice meeting you.”
He smiled cordially holding strong against the desire to look at her as she left the room. After a few drinks his father asked of him, “What do you think of my decision to marry someone so young?”
Alvin took a long moment and a shot of Scotch before voicing his opinion.
“It’s unacceptable to the family because your three children are older than her, but if that makes you happy then I guess I will have to accept your decision.”
His father smiled with deep relief, “It’s good to hear that son.”
It was late when Alvin let, happy that he had reconnected with his father and he felt in his heart that he wanted to make things better between them but how could he visit often whilst she was there? He paused by his car on the driveway, looking at the upper flat and saw her standing by the window, partially hidden behind the curtains looking at him.
A moment woven by magic touched his heart as he looked at her.
Questions burned his mind as he drove away.
“Have I fallen in love with my father’s bride? How did that happen?”
This unexpected situation was quite troubling in his mind but he stayed firm because he was now mentally strong to deal with whatever problems or challenges came his way.
“I will have to fight against this feeling of love,” he said to himself.
But it wasn’t that easy when their paths continue to cross at several places. She always smiled at him but he just nodded courteously and walked away until one late afternoon at the seawall lime, Kevin asked him, “Why don’t you talk to her, I thought you liked her.”
She was parked not too far away with a couple of friends.
Alvin sighed deeply and said to his friend, “Yes I like her but she’s married to my father.”
Kevin choked on his beer and when he stopped coughing, he exclaimed, “Good God.”
Alvin clapped him gently on the shoulder, “It’s okay, man.”
He met with his father a few times for lunch at restaurants, thankful he didn’t have to go to his house, but one day he walked into a nice, little, high-end gift shop to buy a gift for his sister, not knowing the place was owned by Marissa. The moment she saw him, she walked over to him.
“Hey,” he answered politely but looked away, not wanting to start a conversation.
“Why are you avoiding me?” she asked directly.
He turned and responded in a serious tone, “Shouldn’t I?”
He could see the regrets in her eyes when she answered, “I’m sorry about that night, I didn’t know you were…”
She left the sentence unfinished.
He relaxed his serious look, “That’s okay, we did not know each other.”
She tried to smile and said, “Thanks, I do not want you to hate me too.”
Those words left him feeling a little guilty for avoiding her.
During the next few weeks, he focused his mind on the prospects of starting his own company, in regular discussions with his father, when one day over lunch he noticed the pale look on his face and loss of appetite.
“You don’t look good,” Alvin observed, “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing, I’m fine,” he answered nonchalantly.
Alvin expressed concern to his mother, but in her unforgiving mind, she thought differently.
“How long do you think an old man like him could last with a young girl?”
It was a question he had no answer for which left a kind of worry on his mind, so when his father invited him to his house one evening, he did not decline.
He was looking paler than the last time Alvin saw him.
“Are you sure you’re not suffering from any form of illness?”
“I have a good doctor son, don’t worry about my health.”
They spoke for a fairly long period, on several topics, then his father said, “I have been living with the hope that I will see you again, one day.”
For the first time, Alvin saw a flicker of pain on his father’s face, a brave and strong man, now older and weaker.
“And I want to ask of you, one thing,” he continued.
“Please don’t hate Marissa like the rest of the family does, she’s a nice young woman.”
Alvin responded with what had been on his mind.
“I think it’s unfair to hate her for being married to you because that was your choice.”
His father smiled with relief, “Finally someone with real understanding.”
Marissa came home not long after, looking incredibly beautiful in a white bodycon dress.
“How can I hate her?” Alvin questioned himself, “When every time I look at her, there’s an overwhelming feeling of love.”
His father called her and she came and sat down next to him, but a few moments later he excused himself to make an important phone call. There was an uncomfortable silence, neither of them looking at each other, then Alvin asked, “How sick is he? He seems to be hiding something.”
“He’s fine most of the time,” she answered, “just not good some days.”
“So who looks after him at nights when you’re out?”
She looked at him a bit defiantly, knowing that question would come up.
“I’m here all the time, that night was just a girl’s night out and he was out of the country.”
“Sorry,” he apologized, “Just trying to understand what’s happening with his life.”
There was another moment of silence then he asked a question he needed to know the answer to,
“Why did you dance with me?”
Their eyes met this time and for one hushed moment, the world seemed to stop, then she answered him, her soft voice almost a whisper, “There was something unique about you that I liked.”
Neither of them saw the father came out of the study and stood there, quietly watching them.
To be continued…