In Albany, New York, there lived a young African-American man named Karam Rodriguez. In his thirties, he was handsome and tall, loving and caring, and knew exactly how to treat a woman; treating her even better than she expected. He was in a relationship with a gorgeous woman named Kolonda Lopez.
Although Karam treated her with complete respect, he did not feel that the respect was returned – he could feel there was something going on, and suspected that she was cheating, but wasn’t quite sure how to approach Kolonda without proof.
Kolonda was, in fact, cheating on him, and had been for some time. Although the affair had been going on for a while, she knew that she had deep feelings for Karam, and also knew that confessing to him would break his heart.
One day Karam was in the heart of the city having a coffee with one of his very best friends. “Frank,” Karam took a deep breath before continuing, “I don’t know what to do. I really like Kolonda, and I want to take our relationship to go to the next level, but I can’t. I think she is cheating on me with someone else.”
Frank took a long sip of his coffee, pondering this troubling news for a few moments before he spoke. “Karam, I have known you for a very long time. You are an outstanding kind of man, and any woman would love to be with you. It doesn’t make sense that anyone would cheat on you! But, if you have these suspicions, perhaps you should have an honest discussion with her and just confront her plainly. At least then you will find out the truth. After that, you can plan your next move.”
As Frank lifted his cup to his lips, Karam considered his long-time friend’s advice. It wouldn’t be easy, but it did seem like the right thing to do. Grasping Frank’s shoulder, Karam sighed. “Thank you for the advice, Frank.”
Twenty minutes later, Karam arrived at Kolonda’s, unannounced. After a moment’s hesitation, he rang the buzzer of her residence and waited. Kolonda was very not expecting to see Karam, and could not hide her surprise. She leaned in to embrace him with a smile on her lips, but once she saw his troubled expression, she pulled back.
“Kolonda, um, I think we need to have a talk,” Karam said as he grabbed her elbow and guided her to the sofa. “I’ve noticed that we’ve had some trouble in our relationship lately, and I’ve also noticed some changes in your attitude and behaviour when we are together. I can’t help but think that there is something going on. So I am gonna to ask you straight out: Are you cheating on me?” His face showed his pain as he looked into Kolonda’s eyes, patiently waiting for her to respond.
“Oh, my God,” Kolonda started, not sure how to respond. She certainly had not been expecting Karam to come over to her place, much less for him to confront her on her recent change in behaviour. Kolonda nervously shook her leg as she pondered her next words. If she were to tell him that she had been cheating on him, it would break his heart. And worse still, she knew that he could never possibly forgive her for her transgressions. The thought of hurting Karam or not having him in her life was devastating, and the guilt she carried over the affair made it that much worse. Taking her time, she thought very carefully, trying to come up with the least damaging way to break the news to him. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t seem to think of a way to both tell the truth and save the relationship that they had.
“Sweetheart,” Kolonda stalled, “you look so distressed. What is the matter? Why are you asking these questions?” Even as she tried to keep her voice even, the tears pooling in her eyes threatened to give her true feelings away.
“Kolonda,” Karam began, grasping one of her hands while looking straight into her eyes, “I have started to develop feelings for you. Deep feelings. But lately, something seems different. I can’t help but suspecting that something has come between us.” Karam cleared his throat and took a deep breath, mentally preparing himself. “Kolonda, I am going to ask you straight up: Have you been cheating on me?”
After a long and awkward silence, filled only with Kolonda’s freely-flowing tears, Karam knew he had his answer. Suspicions confirmed, he got up off of the couch and began pacing the floor in front of her.
“Karam,” she reached out to touch him, shocked when he pulled away. “You are very sweet and very caring, and I know that you don’t deserve this. I know this is the worst mistake I have ever made. I am so very sorry, Karam. This doesn’t change the way I feel about you. I am so very sorry.”
His eyes burned with anger and astonishment. He stopped pacing to stare at Kolonda. “Why? Why, Kolonda, why? Have I done something wrong? Have I not been good to you? Have I not always treated you as you deserve? Am I not the type of guy you want to be with?” As the reality of the situation continued to sink in, Karam felt as though his heart was being murdered, stabbed over and over by the woman he once thought he would spend the rest of his life with.
Before Kolonda could answer, Karam continued, his pain evident in his voice. “So, you have been cheating on me. Sneaking around. Deceiving me. Leaving me to think that I was the one who was doing something wrong. Not knowing what it was that was causing the rift in our relationship. I just, I mean, I just don’t understand. Do you have any idea how much this hurts me? How betrayed and broken I feel? Oh, Kolonda. Why?”
“Oh heavens,” Kolonda muttered under her breath as she rose to stand in front of him. “I am so sorry. So, so, so sorry. I never meant for this to happen, and I never meant to hurt you. I have been meaning to break it off with the other guy for a while now. He doesn’t mean anything to me. It is only you I want. I feel so ashamed, and so terrible for hurting you.” She placed her arms around his waist, trying to pull him closer as she continued to confess. “Karam, I care about you so much. I am so sorry. I wish I had never cheated on you. I wish it had never happened. I feel terrible about what I did, and how I am hurting you. If I could take it all back, I would.”
Karam gently but firmly removed her arms from around his waist and pushed her back. “You can’t,” he whispered, “you can’t take it back. Oh, Kolonda, you have broken my heart.” Taking one last look at her tear streaked face, Karam sighed and headed for the door.
Following him, Kolonda sobbed. “Please,” she cried, “please. Find it in your heart to forgive me. I am so sorry, Karam. I don’t want to lose you. Please, Karam. I am so sorry.”
Karam simply shook his head, afraid to say anything else for fear of losing control of his own emotions. With Kolonda still pleading and crying, Karam walked out of the door, keeping his gaze in front of him and his arms crossed over his chest, trying to squeeze out the pain of his murdered heart.
Once Karam got home, he closed all of his blinds and just sat at the kitchen table, trying to process the conversation he and Kolonda had. Her actions hurt him so bad, worse than he ever thought possible. He knew now without a doubt that the feelings he felt for her were real, because the thought of a future without her shook him to the core. He had more than enough reason to end the relationship, but knew in his heart that he would not be happy to do so. But, if he gave Kolonda a second chance, was he going to end up with even more pain and heartache than he already had?
After a few hours had gone by, Karam called Frank. He needed to talk the situation through, and also wanted to hear the advice of his long-time friend. After Karam told Frank about the events of the morning, there was a long silence on the phone as Frank pondered the situation his friend was in.
“Good Lord Man,” Frank exclaimed, “this really sucks! I am so sorry that this has happened to you. I wish there was something I could do or say to make the pain go away, but we both know that is not possible. I guess the best advice I can give you is to really think things through. Take as much time as you need, and figure out what you want to do. I hope that you will be able to come to a decision that will ease your pain and be good for your heart and soul. ”
They talked for a few more minutes before Karam thanked Frank for his opinion and said that he would do just that. Despite her betrayal, Karam knew that Kolonda was worried about him and their relationship. He sent her a quick text explaining that he needed time and space to think things through. She responded saying that she would do anything she could to get him back, and that, again, she was so very sorry for hurting him.
In the weeks that followed, Kolonda tried to contact Karam numerous times. She sent him emails and texts, and left long messages on his voicemail. She informed him that she had ended things with the other guy. She apologized over and over, and claimed that Karam was the only man for her. She begged and pleaded with Karam to forgive her, and told him that she was willing to do whatever it took to repair the damage and hurt she had caused him. Karam carefully read and pondered everything that Kolonda said, but refrained from responding or replying.
It took Karam a full month to come to a decision. It was the longest, most painful month of his life. He spent so much of his time thinking about Kolonda. About how much she meant to him, and about how much her betrayal hurt him. When he finally made his mind up, he called Kolonda and arranged to meet her at her house that night.
After hanging up with Karam, Kolonda started to get ready for the evening. Having little doubt about Karam’s decision, Kolonda put on the same dress that she had worn on their first date. She put a great deal of effort into doing her hair and makeup, thinking all the while about how wonderful it was going to be to see Karam again. Once she was ready, she carefully chose Karam’s favorite wine and placed it on the table with two tall glasses and a vanilla scented candle. Kolonda hummed and smiled as she got everything ready, eager to push past her mistake and continue her relationship with Karam.
When Kolonda heard steps outside her door, she rushed to open it, and managed to do so just as Karam went to push the buzzer. Kolonda smiled as Karam walked in, closing the door behind him. As she wrapped her arms around him, expecting a warm embrace, she whispered in his ear. “Oh, Karam, I have missed you so much. God, you have no idea! I am so sorry for hurting you, but I am so glad that you-”
Karam had noticed the effort that Kolonda had put into her appearance, and thought to himself that she really was beautiful. When she reached out to hug him, he gave in, partially out of habit and partially to feel her closeness against him one last time. As she started to talk, he pulled himself away from her and cut her off. “Kolonda, listen. I felt that I needed to say this to you in person. You really hurt me. And I know that this is really going to hurt you. I hope you can understand…” As he spoke, Kolonda’s facial expression quickly changed, her smile faded and was replaced with an expression of concern and bewilderment.
“I have thought long and hard about what you did,” Karam continued, “and I have decided that I can forgive you, but I cannot forget what you have done.”
“What exactly are you trying to say, Karam? That it is over? I told you how sorry I am. And I really am! Can’t you accept that?” Kolonda’s voice rose as she tried to comprehend what Karam was trying to tell her.
“I believe you, Kolonda. I know you are sorry. But, unfortunately, that can’t undo the past. It can’t change the hurt you’ve caused me, or the fact that you cheated on me.”
“But,” Kolonda’s bottom lip started to quiver as she fought tears, “I’m not cheating on you anymore. Like I told you before, I broke it off with him. I thought you just needed time. I really care about you. I can’t lose you. I thought-” She paused for a moment, gesturing towards the wine and candle. “I thought that we were going to move past this, and that we could celebrate a new beginning together.”
“I too am sorry, Kolonda. I was hoping that things were going to work out between us, but I can’t be with someone that I can’t trust, and I can’t trust you. It is over.” Without saying anything further, Karam walked to the door and let himself out. Even as he heard Kolonda crying softly inside, he knew he had made the right decision. He hurt, and knew that he would continue to hurt for a long time. But with every step he took away from Kolonda, he felt his pain ease. He felt as though a great weight had been lifted from his heart and soul, and he knew that everything was going to be okay.
Karam did not let his relationship with Kolonda change the way he treated women. A year and half later, he was still tall and even more handsome than before. And, he was still the same loving and caring man that he was before. There was, however, a big difference in Karam’s life. He had found a beautiful woman who appreciated and returned his respect. A woman that treated him just as amazingly as he treated her. A woman that he knew he could trust, love, and live happily ever after with.