Fatal encounter | Sunday Observer

Fatal encounter

4 April, 2021

Sarah and Nicolas, the soon-to-wed couple bring Samara across the border, hidden in their vehicle as she’s wrongfully accused of carrying illegal drugs. At the border, they pretend to be married, although they aren’t. Sarah is arrested for carrying an ornamental gold pagoda in her handbag. She’s bailed out the following day and a court case is filed. She wonders why Nicolas and Samara don’t turn up to inquire after her and learns later that they’re in a secret affair and they’ve betrayed her. She attends the court case alone, pays a fine and faces a suspended sentence of six months imprisonment. The following week, she flies to a city far away, finds employment there and settles down. She follows a university course to become a teacher. She coincidentally meets a young man (Sherman) and falls in love with him. He suggests Sarah be his niece’s home-visiting tutor and introduces her to his family. She gets negative vibes from his sister, Kumberlin, whose husband has faced a tragic death in the past caused by a sudden heart failure after learning that his wife has deceived him. The relationship continues between Sarah and Sherman. She moves in with him. Sarah is conceived and on the same day she finds it out, she gets to know certain corrupt doings of Jerad, but she lies low about them. Her visits to the library in the convent become frequent and she closely associates Sister Priscilla.

Episode 12

The following day, Sarah and Sherman found themselves at the walk-in clinic in town, where they were confirmed about their present status of being expectant. They were overjoyed, and the next day they decided to tie the knot. In her delight, Sarah hardly noticed anyone else in the household except Sherman: the most handsome man she had ever seen. He was her prince charming, and now his blood was growing in her.

The tuition, University and her visits to the library were happening as usual and Sarah didn’t forget to meet Sister Priscilla before they went to the marriage commissioner.

“We’re getting married tomorrow.” She blurted out, sitting in the library, having her eyes on her friend.

“That’s wonderful. Does anyone else know about it?”

“No one. We haven’t told anything.”

The nun kept looking at her, wondering where Sarah was heading, and Sarah, in a sudden thought, decided to divulge her finding about Jerad to her. Sister Priscilla, living in the same town for decades, knew the Tilfords more than Sarah thought she did.

“I have something else to tell you.” Sarah mentioned.


“Yesterday, I saw Jerad in Sherman’s room. He looked as if he was searching for something. No one was home then, and he probably didn’t think I’d come.”

Sister Priscilla drew a smile on her face with effort, and Sarah thought there was a lot communicated in it.

“Does he know that you saw him?” The nun asked.

“Yes, he met me face-to-face coming out of his room. And I’m sure he was very upset to see me.”

“Sarah, now you have to be very careful. Jerad, as far as I know, could be very harmful. He’s really a little thief. He was just eighteen when he stole a pile of his sister’s jewellery. Now he knows that you found out something about him. He can be harmful to you”.

“He stole Kumberlin’s jewellery?” Sarah asked in disbelief.

“No, he stole Nickie’s jewellery. That’s another sister living far away now. But don’t think that they’ll ever talk bad of him, although they all know that he’s a little crook!”

“Yes, I’ve heard about Nickie, but never met her. You seem to know a lot about them”.

“Yes, I’ve been living here all my life, and there’s a lot, you don’t know.”

Sarah gave a sharp look at Sister Priscilla, and it was a wonderful opportunity to reveal.

“I know lots about almost all the families here. I know Sidney also very well. He’s a regular churchgoer, but he can be very nasty when the time comes. You need to be very careful now. Sherman is different from his brothers. He’s honest and gentlemanly, but he can be very easily instigated and manipulated by just anyone, especially Kumberlin. He knows that Kumberlin is in favour of his brothers, and she won’t disregard their misdeeds, but he’ll always be manipulated by her. She does it so finely that he won’t even feel it.”

Sister Priscilla was right about all her assessments of everyone. Truth about Jerad was proved in front of Sarah, and in fact, Sidney was a regular churchgoer, going to church every Sunday. Even during his lunch breaks, he went to church and prayed to his Lord. However, his mind was far away from anything pious. His eyes often moved around, looking at the other devotees in the church. If he caught sight of an interesting female, he made sure that he got the maximum opportunity from it. When things were turning bitter, women of all ages came home looking for him, and he had to hide himself from them; sometimes he had given them false identity, as he was never genuine.

Sarah became thoughtful listening to the nun’s words, and some more words were directed towards her.

“I’m not sure if you know what Jerad wanted in Sherman’s room. Did you tell Sherman about it?”


“Good thing you didn’t say it.”

Sarah stopped at Sister Priscilla’s words. It seemed as if the nun didn’t have any confidence on what Sherman’s reaction would have been.

“Not only that, the police and the court visited yesterday, saying that he’s in debt to the bank. He hid himself inside, told me to tell him he isn’t home.”

The very sympathetic nun was more alarmed to hear Sarah’s words, knowing well that Sarah was already in no good.

The next morning, Sarah and Sherman were married, just like they had planned. It was a marriage that happened at the commissioner’s office with very brief notice. They exchanged rings and headed home. Perhaps, they were just a few hours away from telling the family about their marriage. Coming home, Sarah was again disturbed.

“You know something Sarah?” Sherman broke the silence.


“I’ve lost my passport: It was in my drawer, but it’s missing now.”

Sarah quickly stopped her thoughts at the words. Did she have to tell him what she knew? That she had seen something bizarre in his room, a few days ago? No! Sister Priscilla had warned her, and also would Sherman ever believe her?

“It’s surprising, maybe you just misplaced it.” Sarah said.

She remained silent. She didn’t mention anything that she knew, although she had mentioned with Sherman the visit of the police and the court. It was a sheer chance, as her silence about the theft that happened in his room didn’t come from prudence. Her silence simply didn’t have any solid reasons, but subtle ones. Was she going to benefit from it or otherwise was left to be determined later. Well, she was going to maintain silence in the future to a much greater extent, for that matter.

They came home to find some visitors - Arsen, their cousin and his wife, Gittel. They were sitting in the living room having a wonderful conversation when the newly married couple entered, and hardly anyone knew that they were just married or anything beyond.

“There they come!” Kumberlin said with a smile.

Sarah was shaken by her smile; it had nothing friendly in it, and it tore her apart. The piercing look in Kumberlin’s eyes were equally fearful, but Sarah was ready to face it.

“I invited Arsen and Gittel today and also another friend who’s on her way here now”, Kumberlin said, and she placed her much-awaited question at Sarah, “do you know what you have done?”

“What?” Sarah asked, startled.

“You have signed a legal document initiating the bank to seize everything in the house in lieu of repayment of a loan.”

“What?!!” Sarah asked, astonished.

“Yes! Don’t you know that you have to read before you sign?”

Sarah drew her memory to the day that passed. She repented. She had been very negligent about everything - signing as she had been told, an acknowledgement of receipt - but really, it had been something else. It had been a legal seizure, and she hadn’t known it. She felt small. They all had their eyes on her. Sidney, who had just returned from the church, had a mocking smile on his face. Jerad, who still had the paper in his hand, gave out a striking laugh.

“I can’t help if she signed it putting unnecessary trouble on herself and us. But today, I paid the loan in full to the bank.” Jerad said.

He had a pretended smile on his face, and it was Kumberlin’s turn to speak.

“Oh, how wonderful you are, Jerad! It’s because of you we all are saved now. We all could have been in trouble otherwise.” Kumberlin said.

“So you’re saying that it was Sarah’s fault that Jerad didn’t pay his loan?” Sherman asked, raising his voice.

“Jerad probably had difficulties - that’s why he couldn’t pay on time - but she didn’t have to sign it.” Kumberlin confirmed. There was a brief silence before Kumberlin spoke again.

“I’m so proud of you, Jerad. You paid your loan. How concerned you’ve been about us! I still can’t imagine where we would be if you didn’t pay. You saved her from the signature she placed.”

At this, Sarah broke her silence.

“So, what about it? How does it save me? He paid his loan, not mine. He has to pay it. How does it help me?”

“Of course, we all would have been in trouble because of you.”

Sarah was dumbstruck by Kumberlin’s words, and it was the right time to reveal what she knew.

“Oh, he’s been such an innocent man, so concerned about the family, and saved us all. He’s also been so concerned about Sherman that he stole his passport.”

Sherman looked at Sarah in disbelief. Arsen and Gittel maintained the same silence. Jerad and Sidney looked at each other in recognition. After a brief moment of silence, Kumberlin spoke.

“What? Are you making it up to save yourself from what you did?”

“What did I do? Sign a document?”

A question to question was asked, and at the ringing of the bell, Kumbelin opened the gate for the friend she had been expecting. Sarah’s eyes stopped at the visitor in bewilderment.

Veronica Williams, the lawyer, walked in.

To be continued next week

Copyright - Santhoshya Jayamali Seneviratne