The Sun Must Shine (Episode 3)

— Unique love stories —

III

George began to enjoy his job a month after his resumption. He enjoyed the calm nature of the campus, the cool breeze on campus, the fierce discussion Ruth had with her friends at one of the college’s cafeteria, and lastly, the discussion Ruth had with him. When Ruth began to speak to him was on the second day George had seen Benita walk out on her friends. In the car, Ruth had asked him, calmly, “What do you make of her?” She paused. “Benita.”

George smiled. He drummed on the steering. Since he listened to their discussion, he’d often heard the word feminism, but he didn’t understand the concept too well. “She is hurt,” he said.

Ruth looked at the window, at the small boy who was pulling a dog along the tarred road. “I guessed as much,” she said. She looked at him. George saw her face on the rear view mirror. “But she will not agree that she is hurt. She is destroying herself!” She exhaled and hissed.

— Unique love stories —

That was their first meaningful discussion, and after that day, it became a routine. They discussed in her class or in the cafeteria, but they didn’t discuss at home, because Ruth didn’t want her father’s trouble. George fascinated Ruth the more. Ruth didn’t know what fascinated her more about him. Since she had grown into a teenager, boys and men were often drawn to her, because of her beauty and her father’s wealth, but George didn’t adore her. When they discussed, George looked away from her face and often fixed his eyes on other things around, from an empty bottle to a dove strolling on the ground. Ruth felt that the street where he grew had hardened him too much that his heart had become steel.

She felt stupid sometimes when they discussed and she let out a high girlish laugh. He made her laugh, but she chose not to care. Often, after her laughter rang out, she would hate herself for the laughter. She behaved like a teenager in love—or  something close to that. On one occasion, she had complained about how long the lecture had been, and George gave an amusing scowl, saying, “Why won’t the lecturer allow the lecture to last beyond the time? He wants to see the beautiful faces of the girls in his class for a long time. Who knows? He might have an ugly wife at home.” She laughed. He talked less, and he listened more. Sometimes, she feared that her too much talk made him quiet, and it somehow hurt her. But she also suspected that he was naturally quiet, because he walked calmly, talked calmly and drove calmly. However, she sensed the fierceness written in his well-built body and his body scars.

— Unique love stories —

In the fourth month of his work, Ruth took him to the most expensive cafeteria on campus. The cafeteria where all sorts of foreign food were sold. Even without the Foreign Food College Cafeteria written above the rotating glass door of the cafeteria, one could easily tell it was a foreign food cafeteria. George admired the bright colorful lights in the cafeteria, the large tiles on the floor, the air conditioner that roared continuously, and the flowers in vases placed at different parts of the cafeteria. Ruth took him to an empty round table, she pulled the heavy leather seat from the table, and said, “Sit down, George. Do you want to take anything?” She regretted saying that. She had given him an option. She should have said, “Let me buy you lunch, and you mustn’t say no.”

“No,” George said. He watched the heavy leather seat with care. He turned to watch Ruth sit down before he sat down. A young Indian man in a brown apron came to their table with a long paper. George looked at the Indian’s hair and wondered how it would feel when he touched it.

“Can I take your orders?” the Indian said.

“Can I have the menu?” Ruth asked. She raised her right hand towards the Indian.

— Unique love stories —

“Sure.” The Indian gave the long paper to her. She collected the paper and pored it. She raised her eyes and glanced at George. George was looking around the cafeteria. The cool nature of the cafeteria calmed him, and the impeccable white walls intrigued him.

“I will have pizza,” Ruth said. She fixed her eyes on George. “Would you like to have pizza, French fries or …” She looked at the paper. “Hamburger.”

“What are those foods?” George’s mouth was opened. The Indian let out a laugh, and he quickly stopped. Ruth stared at the Indian. “I don’t want to eat, Ruth, thank you,” George said.

“Get hamburger for him,” she said. The Indian collected the paper from Ruth and made to leave. “And get cold bottles of Coke with straws for us!” she called out.

“I told you I don’t want to eat. Do you want to force that on me?” George looked at her eyes.

“Sorry,” she said. “I plead with you to eat. Since you started this work, I haven’t seen you eat until your dismissal time. It is very bad for your health. Or if you want, I can always give you money for lunch?”

He scoffed. “I’m being paid well by your father. I don’t buy food before my dismissal time, and have I ever complained to you about that?” He furrowed his thick eyebrows.

“Fine. If you’ve problem with a girl buying lunch for you, I apologize for having done so, I won’t do it again.”

“Who said I’m angry with that? It’s your money, not mine. And you shouldn’t think that the girl stuff works on me. It’s your money, you can buy whatever you like with it, but you don’t have to force anything on me. I am an adult!”

— Unique love stories —

She gasped. He was also arrogant, so much for being her driver. “Sorry,” she said. “Can we talk about other things while we wait for the food?” She watched him relax on the seat. Men. Men always had their ego, but they think little of women’s ego. “Tell me a little about your family, and a little about your childhood?”

He took a deep breath. He watched the Caucasoid young man and woman at the nearby table. They looked at each others eyes and talked in low tones. He turned to her and began to narrate. He is from the Dumong tribe. His father died when he was two. He was brought up by his mother who became blind when he was five. He grew up in Southern Biberia, in a very poor neighborhood of Port Yanko. He dropped out of school when he was fourteen to work more for food. He came to Northern Biberian’s town of Nuka with his blind mother to look for a good job. His mother’s blindness was caused by the brutality of the neighborhood gang of criminals, who robbed and raped women. Ruth recoiled. She looked at the Indian, who walked towards them with a white plastic tray. “Sorry about your mother,” she said.

The Indian came to their table. He dropped the tray of food and drinks on the table. He dropped the pizza in front of Ruth, and the hamburger in front of George. When the Indian had set the bottles of Coke on the table, and  the other necessary things, he picked the tray and left. Ruth watched George stare at the food with disdain. “If you won’t eat, say so,” she said. “You’ve to eat a little, at least, and drink the Coke. The Coke is cold.”

— Unique love stories —

The scent of the food set before him reminded him of the scent of the expensive freshly baked bread in Port Yanko. When he was a child he would wander close to the big shopping malls of the city, looking for people who would accept his offer to carry their shopping bags for little money. Their bags often had the expensive bread in them, it often smelt nice, and it gave him the sensation that his mother’s praise often gave him. When he ate the bread for the first time, he felt as if he ate heavy honey that gave utmost satisfaction. He sneered at the hamburger before him, and it made him resent his poverty.

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