Look at this snap, I say. Isn't it so telltale? Doesn't it speak volumes on our closeness? Our relationship could be the subject of a great novel of romance, had someone had the heart to write it. I am not telling so without a reason; Oliver Hyde is not one to talk crap.
I am a self-made man. My first name carries some resemblance to the legendary character created by the great Dickens. I was brought up in a London almshouse run by Richmond Charities. Why was so? Have a look at my second name. No one actually knew my surname. It was not possible to know either. I was abandoned as an infant on a bench of Hyde Park; thanks to my 'responsible' parents, whoever they were. I guess the surname was suffixed consequent to that.
In my earlier days, I saw myself grow up fighting other mates of the house; fighting for trash food, fighting for a place to sleep, fighting for misfit dresses. That, I guess, made me a fighter. To cut a long story short, I joined the British Army soon after I finished my secondary education. However, at an early age of twenty-seven, my army career was cut short by an injury deforming my right leg enough to bundle me out. Be it horses or men, they don't keep lames in the forces. Therefore, I was left to face this uncertain world all on my own with next to nothing in my hand!
That was the time I met Isabelle. Yes, the same one you see in the frame. If she looks graceful here, she was gorgeous when I met her first. It remains a mystery to me why she chose me as her husband in spite of there being scores of cajolers behind her; better placed and better looking. It was but natural, with her ravishing beauty and rich family backdrop. Isabelle said that she wanted to marry a man, not a sycophant. Nevertheless, I have an uncanny feeling that there was a touch of charity in her marrying me. She wanted to be of help to a wounded soldier, an ex-Corporal at that, with no one around to take care of. It is difficult to understand women. Thankfully, she was the first and last woman I have dealt with from a close quarter. I feel blessed with her long association with me. How long is it? Let me see--- little more than fifty years!
This was the snap taken by our only son Bob on our golden jubilee of marriage. Bob's marriage did not last more than a couple of years. He wonders how we could spend all those delightful years together! I say it is possible. Things were different in our time. We had lesser distractions those days. Moreover, we had lesser money.
Talking of money, Isabelle's rich parents never accepted our marriage for obvious reasons. Isabelle worked as a schoolteacher at Glasgow to support us. I tried to complement her by working part time in the evenings and studying for my graduation in college during daytime. It was tough, but you know the fighter I am!
I got into a brawl once again! A day I noticed a suspicious man planting a bomb outside the restaurant I worked. I seized him before he could flee. I had to break his jawbone as he tried to escape. I couldn't have run after him with my deformed leg.
The police were called. The man feigned innocence about the bomb and said that I was settling an old score with him. I was jailed for two years. On investigation later, Rehmat, the man, was found connected with a terror outfit and was given a lifer. By that time, I had suffered one year of my term already. The only solace those days was Isabelle, who would visit me in the prison and say, "I know you can do no wrong." Oh, those moist, soft eyes!
I was released with a cash award. Yet I lost a precious year of mine. Later on, I completed my graduation to join Isabelle as a teacher in the same Glasgow school. Bob (Robert) was born. Though life had never been a singsong affair for us, we faced it as it came.
Bob gave this picture on Facebook. We requested him for an old-fashioned hard copy. Social media remained unfamiliar to us. We listened to John Lennon in our ancient deck!
"I want to write a book on our life," I was expressing my desire to Isabelle in the cosy moment the picture was captured.
"I didn't know you write," she had mused.
The picturesque house in the background is the proud possession of us acquired at Menstrie village from the modest savings we had following our retirement.
Six months after the snap was taken, we were holding it fondly this day and were in a discussion about the life that was. An elderly whiskered stranger visited us. He said he was from Glasgow. We were civil to him. We loved to have guests as Bob's visits were few and far between. As we finished tea, I asked him the purpose of his visit.
"Let me tell you." The man advanced steadily towards me, swished a concealed dagger off his robes, and placed it on my throat. Isabelle sat transfixed out of horror.
"Look at me," he said. "Remember the bomb incidence in the restaurant?" his eyes reflected hatred and vengeance.
I remembered then. It was Rehmat! I never knew anyone could nurture malice for this long!
He slit my throat the next moment.
I am hovering in a gaseous state over my dead body at present. I can see it lying like a fallen log on the ground with clotted, black blood forming a poodle around my neck. Isabelle is crying inconsolably. I still feel for her.
Maybe she will write our story some day.