"I have Hay Fever. So, could people please stop wearing perfumes?
An email from a lady at work, to every one else in the office.
This reminded me of the story I had mentioned in one of my earlier posts -the one about 'your freedom ends where my nose begins'. I had committed to narrating the story one day and this email proved to be a perfect excuse!
The story in mention was read many many years ago, so apart from the gist, I don't remember anything else!! I have attempted to reconstruct the story below. So, if you do get your hands on the original and the one below looks as similar to it as a raven to a peacock, please don't say that I didn't warn you!
~~ It was a bright and beautiful morning. The sun gloriously poured its beams down, the birds chirped merrily hopping from the sycamore to the cedar. The flowers swayed in easy abandon and children gaily skipped,faces aglow. But that morning's enthusiasm paled in comparison to the countenance of a certain Mr.Gyles. With his sunday best on his back, the favorite hat on his jolly head and his faithful companion - a 1932, hand-stitched St.Michael's, black umbrella twirling in the air. He was the perfect picture of health and happiness! His smart, shining shoes clicked away in a cheerful rhythm, pleasing all who passed, as did the merry tune his smiling lips were humming. Mr.Gyles was a free man now. Free to do whatever pleased him, free to pursue his long cherished dream of finishing that novel he had been writing for years, free to now spend every evening in the company of like minded gentlemen at The Crosskeys, the little town's favorite watering hole.
Today was the first day of Mr.Gyles well earned retirement. After forty years at the Council, he had done well for himself. Growing slowly and steadily up the ranks, he now had a handsome amount saved and a pleasant pension to fund his necessities and even his extravagances! "I am a happy and free man" he thought! And why not?! With all his children well settled, a life well lived with his beloved wife (RIP) and a position as the Deputy Chairman of The Poker and Other Enjoyable Events Association, he had every right to have that spring in his step and that song on his lips.
"I am a happy man, I can do as I please. I'll buy a Japanese fan, or even climb those trees!" sang Mr.Gyles, his umbrella swinging happily in response to the melody. As Mr.Gyles soaked in the sunshine and let it beam through his smile, he scarcely noticed the frown on Mr.Callan's face.
Mr.Callan was teacher. He taught physics at the local St.Edin's Grammar School for Boys. He was feared to the point of reverence and was a respected figure among the weary parents of all those boys. He however, was also feared to the point of dislike by every one else. His tongue was acerbic and could spurn nasty retorts told with the coldness and calmness of a dead fish. Those who met him, said hello while their eyes darted for the nearest exit. To see a frown on Mr.Callan's face was not considered a happy event.
Mr.Gyles continued his jolly stride, with his pride of an umbrella faithfully oscillating beside him. He did not hear the 'tch tch', he did not hear the cough cough. His sparkling eyes however noticed a form, very similar in appearance to the dreaded Mr.Callan brush past him and stop right before him. Even though this would have had the heart beats of Mr.Gyles racing in no time, today was not one of those days! He gave Mr.Callan one of his most endearing smiles and enquired after the missus and the school. "You seem a happy man today, Mr.Gyles" said Mr.C. "Oh yes! You see Mr.Callan, I have retired as of today! I am a free man now! I have all the freedom in the world to do whatever I want. I have the freedom to run, to skip, to jump, to sit to do anything at all, yessir!"
An eyebrow belonging to Mr.C raised itself dangerously close to his hairline. "Ahem. So, is that joyful event, the cause of your overtly animated umbrella then, Mr.Gyles?" It was the right question, but it involved the wrong prop. Mr.Gyles' umbrella was not only hand-stitched and unique and presented to him by the very industrious Mr.Mark of St.Michaels, but also, it was the umbrella that had allowed Mr.Gyles to so chivalrously court Mrs.Gyles on a rainy evening. It had sentimental value.
Not a little annoyed with Mr.C's interrogation, Mr.Gyles, smile slipping away at the corners, looked at Mr.Callan's intimidating apperance and said, "Its my day, my life AND my umbrella Mr.Callan. I am a free man and I have the freedom to do as I please."
"Even to swing your umbrella wheresoever you will, with no emotion or consideration for who walks before or behind you, Mr.Gyles?" The smile now completely gone, cheeks a little flushed, Mr.Gyles supressed an urge to pluck out that raised eyebrow and said "Yessir, Mr.Callan. I can do as I please. This is a free country and it gives me sovereign freedom to swing my umbrella wheresoever I please and howsoever I please." With a sarcastic snort, Mr.Callan lifted the umbrella from the ground, with its silver pointed end towards him, brought it near his face and said, "Mr.Gyles, you might be a free man and I congratulate you on that. But remember, your freedom ends, where my nose begins." So saying, he dropped the umbrella and walked away into the crowd.
It was a fuming (but humbled) Mr.Gyles that The Crosskeys saw enter that evening. For after the sour episode with Mr.C, Mr. Gyles feeling like a reprimanded adolescent continued twirling his umbrella with all the more vigour just to prove to himself that the stupid Mr.C with his 'your freedom' and 'my nose' was nothing but a frustrated school teacher. But when he knocked the glasses off Mrs. O'Neill and almost poked her in the eye with his umbrella, he grudgingly saw the light (after paying damages to Mrs.O'Neill and offering a thousand apologies, of course).
The umbrella still oscillates beside Mr.Gyles. But he is careful it doesnt go anywhere near where anyone else's nose begins! ~~
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