Fizzy Cherry Cola
An Extraordinary Tale
I can imagine you thinking, ‘What’s so scary about ‘Fizzy Cherry Cola?’ To be truthful there is nothing scary about it, but having said that, please look carefully into the picture of the bottle before making your final assumptions…
Well, did you see anything? Did you see all those troubled souls trapped inside the bottle? Did you see the expressions on their poor, pitiful faces, knowing they have no hope of ever escaping it, that the only release they might hope for is that someone happens upon the bottle, and drinks them?
Mr Singe – Gupta – was an old man who had seen many changes over the course of his seventy-five years on this earth. When he was sixteen years of age, his family emigrated from India to the colder climes of England. Along with his parents, brothers, and sisters, Gupta began a new life in a county so different from the hot, tropical one he was used to, and so loved.
Snow; snow was one of the first things the notoriously fickle English weather hurled at the Singe family after their arrival one cold, dark, wet December day. The snow remained stubbornly on the ground until mid-February. Gupta thought it might never melt. Nineteen sixty-three will always be remembered as the year of the big freeze, a time when the whole country came to a standstill.
As the days, weeks, months and years slowly passed, the Singe family settled down well into their new life. Despite feeling homesick for the old ways and the warm sun of the tropics, the each carved out a grand new life for their growing families.
Four years after his arrival in England, Gupta met a beautiful young Indian woman called Sonita whom he fell madly in love with and then married. Two years later, after the arrival of a baby son, Gupta and his wife were about as happy and contented as they could possibly be.
Having opened a shop, a convenience store that became indispensable to the local community, Indian and English alike, Gupta worked day and night to make is a success. Life was good for the Singe family. They looked forward to a long, happy and contented life together.
One day, however, all of this changed, it changed utterly and completely, when a man – a newly arrived immigrant – entered the shop, enquiring if Gupta knew of anyone who had a room to rent.
Happy to help a fellow compatriot find his feet in a foreign land, Gupta said, “I have a flat for rent over my shop.” He pointed upward. “Mind you it is quite small.”
His eyes beaming, the man replied, “Small is okay, if I have as much room in heaven I will be so happy.”
“Would you like to see it?” Gupta asked the heavily bearded man.
“Yes, please,” he replied, offering Gupta his hand. “My name is Ali,” he said, smiling, “I am very pleased to meet you.”
Having returned the greeting, Gupta led him outside to a separate door. Turning the key, Gupta invited Ali to follow him up the narrow stairway leading to the flat.
“It is perfect,” said Ali as he wandered around the three small rooms, then back again to Gupta.
“I haven’t yet told you how much the rent is,” Gupta warned.
“Three pounds per week, with a month in advance.”
The smile on Ali’s face disappeared, and he said, “That much?”
“It is the going rate,” Gupta said defensively.
Buttoning his coat, Ali apologised for wasting Gupta’s time, saying, “Thank you for showing me your wonderful flat, but it is sadly more than I can afford…”
At this point Gupta felt bad, so far removed from the teachings of his religion, to help his fellow man. As they walked down the narrow stairway, Gupta thought about it some more. When they reached the bottom of the stairs, he said cheerfully, “I tell you what I will do…”
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