The long stretch of flat-bottom barges, laden with cargoes of rice, meandered its circuitous way along the murky
that cut through the two shores of bustling Chao Praya River city was a great sight. During the dusk hours of the day when the sun was going down, and with the solemn and majestic Wat Arun ( the holy Bangkok of the Dawn) in the background, the sky emitted rays of golden lit lights, thus making the view simply breath taking. With the long flowing chanting of Buddhist verses in prayer coming from the direction of the temple, no one was immune from being overwhelmed by the blessing of the chant. I was on board a double decked large cruise boat that ferried some fifty or so tourists, mainly Westerners, cruising leisurely along the river banks of this famous river and precious lifeline of the Thai capital city. We were served Western and Thai cuisines for buffet dinner, amidst Jazz music played by a Pilipino band. The aura was soft and soothing, with dimed lights aboard all over, couples, both young and old began to dance when the band singer bellowed a romantic number. Being without company and companion, I was bored shortly as I found the music had become some sort of cacophony to my ears. I climbed the short stairs to get to the open-aired top-most deck where I saw a few couples clinging close to each other. Temple
At one end of this cruise boat, a Caucasian couple caught my attention. The man was a tall person with large body frame, standing roughly a towering 6 ft. 2 in. over his petite lady partner amidst the evening breeze. They were not young people anymore like most of the people crowding around on board the boat. The man was already in his early 70 and his madam was 10 years younger, this I discovered later when told of their story. They seemed unfazed by my sudden intrusion as I walked towards them and we chatted warmly almost immediately like old friends. Perhaps they had not met much Oriental women in their lives, so they were interested in me as much I was curious with them. We sat down to some rattan chairs around a glass-top coffee table, and with a champagne glass in each other’s hand, began our conversation for a long hour and a half.
Celia and Pitt was both Scottish by their origin. They met when Celia was hardly 15 years old back then in
, a coastal town in Aberdeen , still very much a teenage girl in the secondary school. She fell head over heel with Pitt when the latter was engaged as a bricklayer to help in extension work on her family house, shortly after War World II. Pitt had not attained much education due to his poor family background with both parents died early in his youth during the war. But his gentle and pleasant disposition caught the eyes of the blossoming Celia. Very soon they were seen talking intimately much to the chagrin of Celia’s parents. Her father, as a school principal who was a no-nonsense strict disciplinarian, of course would not have agreed to their not so discreet love affair, as he had sensed something not right. Scotland
Celia’s mother on the other did not object much their relationship so long she continued her studies. The older lady was a traditional, church going housewife who believed that their divine faith would guide them to the correct path to a happy life for the whole family, especially right after the war when every thing was scarce, and earning a living was a tough task. However she did follow whatever decision her husband made regarding all important matters. As a dotting youngest child to her family, Celia confided in her mother her liking of the stout bricklayer. Eventually she accepted the fact that her studies came first in importance and her puppy love for the contractor worker had to come to an end. Upon completing the extension project of Celia’s family home, Pitt left elsewhere to work and tried to forget the sweet, young and cherubic face of Celia. He was quite heart broken and disheartened when told by Celia’s father, the school principal that he was nothing more than a construction worker; on the other hand their family had a history of churning out brilliant scholars and medical doctors out of their creed.
Two years later Pitt appeared at Celia’s door step and they rekindled their love without much hesitation. Now at seventeen, she looked like a full grown lady with long flowing hair and large blue eyes. Though just entering the college, her heart was set firmly on Pitt, a muscular man with soft spoken mannerism. This caused a huge uproar in her family as everyone was against her continuing her friendship with this simple looking, down to earth man, including her mother. Just then she decided to quit her studies to elope with the enchanting man she loved so dearly.
Pitt brought Celia to a county church in the suburbia of
, trying to register their union. By then Celia’s father had already alerted the authority of his missing daughter, and Pitt’s name was given to the county police as the main suspect of the abductor. The priest of the church turned down their request to marry them as she was still underage as parental consent must be present for the supposed solemn ceremony. The kind hearted reverend father advised them to be patient as he saw true love existed in between the love-torn young couple. He was sympathetic towards them, even offered them advice where to obtain cheap accommodation in the village. By the time Celia’s parent found them, she was already pregnant with Pitt’s baby. Her father blew his top and subsequently her family disowned her. Edinburgh
Five years later, Pitt had become a successful small time building contractor in
, the Capital city of Edinburgh . They had got their marriage registered successfully when Celia attained the adult age. Altogether they had three children borne to their small yet blissful family; the first, a girl and followed two little boys. Eventually Celia reconciled with her parents as her mother loved her too much to lose her forever. Her stubborn father who had by then retired as the school principal and with age catching up, accepted the fact that his little girl was already someone’s wife with children of her own. The making up saw them reunited as an event Celia cherished till this day. Her siblings however, kept an arm’s length from them as they became snobbish professionals; her two elder sisters were accountants, and her younger brother was on his way to become a medical doctor. Scotland
While working on a hill project Pitt discovered Roman relics in bags of ancient coins during one of his excavation works underground. Such find rendered him almost instant millionaire many times over as the authority deemed it ‘finder keeper’ at that time. With new found wealth Pitt bought a piece of land in
and built his own mansion on it. With her sisters and brother choosing not to look after her parents when they were aging, Celia and Pitt carried out filial piety on the older couple without complaint. Pitt had wanted them to stay at his new mansion the sooner it was completed. Celia’s parents were glad finally to have a responsible, down to earth and considerate man to be their son-in-law. They stayed together happily till their last days into their 70s. Aberdeen
I stole a glance at the old silvery haired couple who were holding hands by the time they finished narrating their enchanting love story to me. Celia still was a noble, sweet, demure and dainty lady; and with her Scottish accent she spoke so softly that I found it hard to understand her sometimes. Wrinkles there were at corners of her eyes, and with her eyes turned smaller, being dazzled by the dusk light with the sun going down, her pale white face was lit up when she sighed in silence. It was obvious, her charm never left her after all these years, I deduced. Pitt was so concerned and cautious with Celia’s movement; every step, every turn of her body, he was there to assist her even she did not exhibit any difficulty in her mobility. Their eternal romance was such a remarkable tale to remember, I gathered. Theirs was so rare a relationship as I could not find much nowadays in real life. After decades of marriage life and living together, they still showered acts of love onto each other, keeping each company to travel round the world. With their grown up children living their own lives, Celia and Pitt, in their twilight years, were able to do anything they liked and deemed fit to do, together till death did them apart. “God Bless!” I murmured to them before bidding them farewell with a bear hug.
This old love story was written by Alan CY Kok in the English Language, based on a storyline I read in a Chinese Daily few years back. With some remaining memory power I still possessed, I recollected the story outline and managed to put it down in my own style in writing. I considered this piece of work a half-translated effort. As I always say, Sharing is happiness! Your comments are always welcome.