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Father sat at one end of the table. Mr. Naidal sat at the other end. Mom and I on one side, my sisters, Bianca and Kerri, thirteen and eighteen respectively, sat side by side, facing us. Dinner had been quiet as usual. The unusual part was having Mr. Naidal at our house. I’d heard about him a few times, seen him once at an exclusive Trade Fair Father took me to, but never bothered about such a person. He was rich, probably in his thirties, and Indian. He was a mining mogul too, and Father had done some business with him.
Though we’d cleared the leftover off the table, Father had asked we all return. For a family meeting.
After the initial awkward moment of settling back in our seats, my father cleared his throat. “Mr. Naidal, sir.”
Naidal clicked his tongue. “Thank you, Mr. Baatjie. I know your family must wonder why I’m here and you too, sir.” He arched an eyebrow. “A meeting with the family.”
I noticed for the first time, his voice, and accent. The first being deep and the second polished. If you didn’t see his face, you could imagine he was a foreigner. Brit or Australian. I didn’t know much about peoples of the world beyond what I did in Geography and some TV shows I liked. But I liked the sound of this voice. Sleek, and…
Father smirked. “I assume you wanted to know me better.”
Father and his assumptions. I thought they affected my sisters and me alone.
Naidal scoffed. “Perhaps we may get to that.” He leaned forward. “You owe me a lot of money, Baatjie. And you have defaulted twice in paying back.”
Four pairs of almond-shaped female eyes turned to Father. For Mom to look shocked spoke volumes. My parents were as tight as thieves.
Father stood. “Let us discuss in our libra—”
“Sit down, Baatjie. I have a simple proposal to make. I am willing to cancel your debt.”