Книга Half of a Yellow Sun. Содержание - 24

The first few times she called Kainene that evening, there was no answer. Perhaps Kainene was in Lagos. She called again at night and when Kainene said, "Hello," she sounded hoarse.

"Ejima m" Olanna said. "Do you have a cold?"

"You fucked Richard."

Olanna stood up.

"You're the good one." Kainene's voice was controlled. "The good one shouldn't fuck her sister's lover."

Olanna sank back down on the puff and realized that what she felt was relief. Kainene knew. She would no longer have to worry about Kainene's finding out. She was free to feel real remorse.

"I should have told you, Kainene," she said. "It meant nothing."

"Of course it meant nothing. It was just fucking my lover, after all."

"I didn't mean it like that." Olanna felt the tears in her eyes. "Kainene, I'm so sorry."

"Why did you do it?" Kainene sounded frighteningly calm. "You're the good one and the favorite and the beauty and the Africanist revolutionary who doesn't like white men, and you simply did not need to fuck him. So why did you?"

Olanna was breathing slowly. "I don't know, Kainene, it wasn't something I planned. I am so sorry. It was unforgivable."

"It was unforgivable," Kainene said and hung up.

Olanna put down the phone and felt a sharp cracking inside her. She knew her twin well, knew how tightly Kainene held on to hurt.


Richard wanted to cane Harrison. It had always appalled him, the thought that some colonial Englishmen flogged elderly black servants. Now, though, he felt like doing just as they had done. He longed to make Harrison lie down on his belly and flog, flog, flog him until the man learned to keep his mouth shut. If only he had not brought Harrison with him to Port Harcourt. But he was spending a whole week and did not want to leave him alone in Nsukka. The first day they arrived, Harrison, as if to justify his visit, cooked a complicated meal: a bean and mushroom soup, a pawpaw medley, chicken in a cream sauce speckled with greens, and a lemon tart as pudding.

"This is excellent, Harrison," Kainene said, with a teasing sparkle in her eyes. She was in a good mood; she had pulled Richard into her arms after he arrived and mock-danced with him over the polished floor of the living room.

"Thank you, madam." Harrison bowed.

"And do you cook this in your home?"

Harrison looked wounded. "I am not cooking in my home, madam. My wife is cooking native food."

"Of course."

"I am cooking any type of European food, anything my master is eating in his country."

"You must have difficulty eating native food when you go home then." Kainene stressed the word native, and Richard held back his laughter.

"Yes, madam." Harrison bowed again. "But I must manage."

"This tart tastes better than one I had the last time I was in London."

"Thank you, madam." Harrison beamed. "My master is telling me that everybody in Mr. Odenigbo's house is saying the same thing. I used to make it for my master to take there, but I am not making anything again for Mr. Odenigbo's house since that time he is shouting on my master. Shouting like madman and the whole street is hearing. The man's head is not correct."

Kainene turned to Richard and raised her eyebrows. Richard knocked his glass of water over.

"I will get rag, sah," Harrison said, and Richard restrained himself from leaping across to strangle him.

"Whatever is Harrison talking about?" Kainene asked, after the water had been wiped up. "The revolutionary shouted at you?"

He could have lied. Even Harrison himself did not know exactly why Odenigbo had driven into the compound that evening and shouted at him. But he did not lie, because he was scared that he would fail at lying and would eventually have to tell her the truth and that way make it all doubly damaging. So he told her everything. He told her about the good white Burgundy he and Olanna drank and how, afterward, he was overwhelmed with regret.

Kainene pushed away her plate and sat with her elbows on the table, her chin lightly supported on her clasped hands. She said nothing for many long minutes. He could not read the expression on her face.

"I hope you won't say forgive me" she said, finally. "There is nothing more trite."

"Please don't ask me to leave."

She looked surprised. "Leave? That would be too easy, wouldn't it?"

"I'm sorry, Kainene."

Richard felt transparent; she was looking at him but he felt as if she could see the wood carving that hung on the wall behind him. "So you have been lusting after my sister. How unoriginal," she said.

"Kainene," he said.

She stood up. "Ikejide!" she called. "Come and clear this place."

They were leaving the dining room when the phone rang. She ignored it. It rang again and again and finally she went to it. She came back into the bedroom and said, "That was Olanna."

Richard looked at her, pleaded with his eyes.

"It would be forgivable if it were somebody else. Not my sister," she said.

"I am so sorry."

"You should sleep in the guest room."

"Yes, yes, of course."

He did not know what she was thinking. It was what frightened him the most, that he had no idea what she was thinking. He patted his pillow and rearranged his blanket and sat up in bed and tried to read. But his mind was too active for his body to be still. He worried that Kainene would call Madu and tell him what had happened, and Madu would laugh and say, "He was a mistake from the beginning, leave him, leave him, leave him." Finally, before he fell asleep, Moliere's words came to him, strangely comforting: Unbroken happiness is a bore; it should have ups and downs.

Kainene greeted him with a stoic face in the morning.

The rain was heavy on the roof and the overcast sky cast a pallor over the dining room. Kainene sat drinking a cup of tea and reading a newspaper with the light on.

" Harrison is making pancakes," she said, and turned back to her paper. Richard sat opposite her, unsure of what to do, too guilty even to pour his tea. Her silence and the noises and smells from the kitchen made him feel claustrophobic.

"Kainene," he said. "Can we speak, please?"

She looked up, and he noticed, first, that her eyes were swollen and raw, and then he saw the wounded rage in them. "We will talk when I want to talk, Richard."

He looked down, like a child being reprimanded, and felt, again, afraid that she would ask him to get out of her life forever.

The doorbell rang before noon and, when Ikejide came in to say that madam's sister was at the door, Richard thought that Kainene would ask him to shut the door in Olanna's face. But she didn't. She asked Ikejide to serve drinks and went down to the living room and from the top of the stairs where he stood, Richard tried to hear what was said. He heard Olanna's tearful voice but could not make out what she was saying. Odenigbo spoke briefly, in a tone that was unusually calm. Then Richard heard Kainene's voice, clear and crisp. "It is stupid to expect me to forgive this."

There was a short silence and then the sound of the door being opened. Richard hurried to the window to see Odenigbo's car backing out, the same blue Opel that had parked in his own compound on Imoke Street before Odenigbo bounded out, a stocky man in well-ironed clothes shouting, "I want you to stay away from my house! Do you understand me? Stay away! Don't ever come to my house again!" He had stood in front of the veranda and wondered if Odenigbo would punch him. Later, he realized that Odenigbo did not intend to punch him, perhaps did not consider him worthy of a punch, and the thought had depressed him.

"Did you eavesdrop?" Kainene asked, walking into the room. Richard turned away from the window, but she didn't wait for his response before she added, mildly, "I'd forgotten how much the revolutionary looks like a wrestler, really-but one with finesse."

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