Persaud’s Love After Love introduces: Irrepressible Betty Ramdin, her shy son Solo and their marvellous lodger, Mr Chetan, who form an unconventional household, happy in their differences, as they build a home together. Home: the place where your navel string is buried, keeping these three safe from an increasingly dangerous world. Happy and loving they are, until the night when a glass of rum, a heart to heart and a terrible truth explodes the family unit, driving them apart. This is an extract from Part One...
He grabbed his hair. Solo was screaming. I was screaming.
Leave the child! Sunil! Leave the child alone. He ain’t do nothing.
All I want is to find out what he learn in school today. That so unreasonable?
I ran to Solo’s bedroom for his backpack, returned breathless and shook it empty on the kitchen counter.
Solo, show Daddy what you do in kindergarten today.
The child was crouched down behind the kitchen counter, crying. I found his letters book and pushed it in front Sunil.
Look how the boy gone and write all his letters so neat neat between the lines. And the teacher told me Solo’s best in the class.
Sunil flung the book like a frisbee towards Solo then rocked back and drained his glass. I didn’t move a muscle.
Where my food?
In two twos I dished out the stew chicken, vegetable rice and green salad. Sunil used the fork like it was a shovel. When he’s like this anything can become an argument and any argument can become a fight.
Like salt cheap?
But I hardly put salt in the food.
He rocked back in his chair. If looks could kill.
You telling me you cook this chicken and didn’t put one set of salt in the pot?
So, what I tasting? Something must be wrong with my mouth. How I tasting salt so? You know my pressure high and you giving me salt? Like you want to kill me? Eh?
I was careless. I’d left the rolling pin on the drain board. Easy reach of Sunil’s chair. That rolling pin might have hit the wall, or the bed, or the chair. But it found me. Doctor said the ulna and the radius snapped in two. My arm was in a cast when we buried Sunil a week later.
At the funeral, I told people it was no big deal. I must stop being so careless with ladders. But I talk half and left half. People used to look at me and Sunil and say, Betty girl, you real lucky. In my head, I wanted to ask if they making joke. Lucky? That man only gave love you could feel. He cuff you down? Honeymoon. He give you a black eye? True love in your tail. He break your hand? A love letter. He put you in hospital for a week? Love will stay the course. He take a knife and stab your leg? Until death do us part.
Lover After Love by Ingrid Persaud is out now. Order your copy here and watch her Hay Festival Digital event here.