Monsoon Summer

Monsoon Summer by Julia Gregson

Book: Monsoon Summer by Julia Gregson Read Free Book Online
Authors: Julia Gregson
the expression in her eyes moving from their usual look of quiet pleasure at seeing me, to bewilderment, then horror.
    â€œOh, Kit, oh Lord,” she said, when I had finished. She clapped her hand over her mouth and stared at me. “Don’t worry,” she said. “You can still get out of it. Have you spoken to him this morning?”
    â€œHe meant it,” I repeated. “I know he did.”
    I was still feeling a kind of victorious expansion and babbled on for a bit about how we loved each other and how, in India, I could work at the Home, which was what Daisy had suggested all along.
    â€œIt won’t happen.” Her head was shaking even before I’d finished. She looked ashy white. “It can’t. His family won’t allow it.”
    â€œBut Daisy, they’re not Indian Indians.” I tried to explain to her. “They’re educated. They’re Anglophiles. His father lived in En­gland. He trained to be a lawyer here.”
    She sat down and put her head in her hands and groaned. “I know that. Oh, my dear girl,” she said, looking up, “you’re stepping into a bear pit.”
    â€œI thought you’d be pleased.” I sounded like a child even to myself.
    â€œIt’s true I’d hoped you might consider being a worker there, on a very temporary basis of course, you know, a month or two months, part of a team, with a small salary, not as a wife, not as an Indian wife. And of course Tudor will be desperately disappointed too. He’s such a dear.” She put on her glasses and stared at me, looking very sad. No, he’s not, I thought. Tudor was definitely Daisy’s blind spot. Not in a million years , my mind clanged, only I loved her too much to say it.
    â€œAnd it will kill your mother,” she added. Unusual for Daisy to try emotional blackmail; it made me realize how desperately she minded.
    â€œShe’ll come round, Daisy.”
    â€œNo, she won’t.” Daisy was shaking her head, looking sadder than ever.
    â€œYou don’t know that.”
    â€œI do.”
    â€œHow?”
    There was an extra intensity in her gaze, which linked with other things I felt I didn’t understand: my mother’s half-truths, the occasional sly dig from Tudor and Ci Ci.
    And I was sick of it suddenly: this unspoken thing that seemed to follow me round like a whiff from a drain.
    â€œDaisy,” I said, “what are you talking about? If you know something about my mother that I don’t, why won’t you just say it?”
    â€œYou must ask her yourself.” She got very busy rustling papers and putting her pens away in the old Stilton jar she kept on her desk. “It’s nothing to do with me.”
    â€œSo there is something?”
    â€œI don’t know . . . I don’t know.”
    I’d never seen Daisy look more furtive or trapped.
    * * *
    I ran to the kitchen, where my mother was chopping spinach with her usual economy of movement. Two dead pheasants lay on the table, their necks flopped over, their little eyes all blank now. From the door I surveyed her quickly: the neat waist, the trim ankles, the beautiful black hair, caught this morning with a marquisette comb. The apron was the jarring note: an actress cast in the wrong play.
    â€œMother, I need to speak to you.”
    â€œWell, I don’t want to speak to you.”
    She may as well have added “you revolting slut,” her look was so shuddery and thoroughly disgusted. She carried on chopping.
    â€œMother,” I announced grandly, “I’m terribly sorry about last night, but we are in love and I’m leaving soon. I really am, you know.” Did I really believe it then, the grandiose words, the concrete travel plans? I don’t think so, but it felt important to make a stand. She stopped chopping and laid the knife down.
    â€œShut up, Kit,” she said. “I refuse to talk about it here

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