A short story
Written by M.R Rambler
Joseph R. Kennedy was a prefect Manhattan’s man, aged sixty-five years, still working in shares market on Wall Street, never married, but had four women whom he had lived together, out of which two borne him children, first one was, an Italian lady who bore him a daughter, and a Thai woman who gave him a son. About his daughter he was not aware of her whereabouts, but his son was in Iraq with US military as his that child phoned him on a regular basis, after reaching the age of sixty five, he bid farewell to his trade and decided to roam the world without any itinerary, just wandering around. The great grandfather of Mr. Kennedy had migrated from Ireland to United States of America in 19th century hence he began his way around the world journey from that country and after touring his ancestral homes, then sight seeing Scotland arrived at Manchester. From the textile city of England, he wanted to turn towards Lake Districts and Yorkshire to crisscross north to southern areas and thus boarded a train from the Airport station for Hull to see the eastern shores of the United Kingdom.
The train was overcrowded, he faced a problem in finding a vacant seat as most of the chairs were booked and he had no reservation to occupy an allotted place for his onward journey. However, he spotted a vacant place at the corner of the car, hurried towards it to find reservation tag on the both of the empty chairs. Never the less after seeking the permission from two ladies sitting opposite of prior reserved, he sat on it for the time being, to resolve the issue with the train conductor later. After finding some comfort in sitting on the chair, he took stock of the women across his seat as train departed from the station, conveyed his greetings to closer co-passengers and they also replied to him in the same way of Hiya. He figured out that they were mother and daughter from the rural background going to some village from Manchester city, however he hesitatingly inquired from the elder one,
“Are you going beyond Leeds? I have heard that Leeds is a beautiful city”.
“Yes! Indeed Leeds is a picturesque city, but we will get off before Leeds. Our place is some stations before that town. If you are going to Leeds, in that case the reserved seats were booked beyond that city towards our eastern coast.”
“Oh! Never mind, I am just wandering with no fixed destination, nevertheless wanting to see Hull, before moving to south of England, if some interesting notion comes up in my mind, I could drop at Leeds as well. Anyway, thanks for your concern.”
The young woman closely examined him and then asked in a somber voice,
“Are you an American?”
“Yes, I am. Is that lady is your mother.”
“Yes, she is my mom. It seems to me that you are traveling alone, are you?
“Wives I have got none, neither I have any traveling companion nowadays.”
At that, somber remark of American, British women kept their silence, as the train sped across east screening the scenic beauty of Yorkshire country through the windows of the coach. The ticket checker came, asked Mr. Kennedy for fare bill and he explained his circumstances of boarding the train, then the train inspector issued him a ticket up to Leeds only and told him to board another train for Hull from that station.
After some hesitation, the young girl inquired inquisitively from the American,
“Have you seen our country life, our beautiful villages with rolling hills and our farms as you call them ranches or you just like cities to sightsee the repulsive city life in it.”
Mr. Kennedy replied,
“It is not correct that I only visit towns and cities and not like to see the rural life of this country or any country of the world. The fact is that I do not know any person of England’s rural inhabitant or a villager to live and see your country side, moreover if you know some motels in villages here, where I will certainly stay, please tell me.”
The mother and daughter conferred each other in whispers and the daughter muttered some proposition in the ear of older woman and after getting her nod said to foreigners,
“We will love, if you would stay with us as our guest for a day or two because your face is so similar to our late father, who died tragically in Australia while swimming in the sea, when we were on a holiday there”.
“Oh! How it happened? As some say, the sea is cruel”.
The slender, scholarly looking, be speckled, a girl seemingly in her late twenties started sobbing at the mere mention of her father. Her mother was silent as an aura of sadness hung around them. Mr. Kennedy broke their upsetting emotions and asked,
“ I am so sorry to ask such question, however I am coming along for a day, or two as your guest at your farmhouse, cheer up”.
They disembarked at Dewsbury station where Gregory the farm hand was waiting in the double cabin van to take his mistress and her daughter. Mr. Kennedy became awestruck to see the farm, where sheep were grazing in their enclosures, pigs were in sties, and Shetland cows were grazing on summer grass in the lush green rolling hills. He was very happy to live in somber and serene surroundings and requested the farm owner for a longer stay with them as a paying guest.
After a few days, Mr. Kennedy observed that the girl Kate was keeping aloof from everybody; seldom coming outside of her room except at dinner time while her mother Katherine was robust, worked hard on the farm and tended the animals and organic poultry, which fetched a higher price at the market, he learnt as himself an organic food lover. The Yankee also helped the woman in her farm chores, became friendly to her and one day inquired from her,
“ Kate seems to me quite depressed. Have you not consulted some psychiatrist about her behavioral problems, which looks abnormal to me?”
“No, I haven’t. She is a stubborn girl from her childhood, more so after her father’s death, she has become pigheaded to handle and appears scary to me. She has no boyfriend or any girl friend and keeps herself busy by reading horror books, watching horror movies, seldom talks to me and does not allow me inside her bedroom..”
“It is alarming. We have to save her and I will try to make her normal.”
“Yes go ahead. So nice of you, to show concern at my family affairs more so as a paying guest, I am indebted. You know Dewsbury town is nowadays inhabited with Islamist radicals and out of her desperation, she one day came with a Muslim cleric who wanted her to embrace Islam”.
“ Then what happened”.
“I prevailed upon her by saying that I have not married again due to her conditions. And when I pointed out that her father’s soul will be very angry with her religious conversion, it deterred her from meeting that Muslim cleric again”.
From that day on Mr. Kennedy tried him all the abilities to make Kate a sociable girl, consulted a psychiatrist, consoled her daily and confirmed that she took the prescribed medicines in time. She was improving after a few weeks of treatment and counseling, but suddenly he had to return to New York due to the death of his close business partner and a dear friend, but he had not forgotten the Yorkshire girl. One night he was in a grave mood and sleep had abandoned him that the ringing of the phone in the dead of night moved him. The voice was informing him,
“Your son was killed while performing combat duty in Iraq”…
Those words resounded in his mind again and again for some time sinking him to morose and gloomy frame of mind, after some time as the sun was rising, the phone bell rang again, it was Kate,
“ I am marrying on next Sunday to a Scot. Will you come to my marriage? Today is Tuesday.”
“Surely my daughter Kate. I will not only come, but hand you over to your groom as the bride’s father, cheers”.
Mr. Kennedy then went into a deep sleep.