Sunday, 23 July 2017

Double Glazing

[Media prompt] Teenage girl, 19, is found dead in the freezer at £1.5m London home as her cousin flees from the property with a slit throat after they were kidnapped in suspected honour killing.
Double Glazing

There were boys skateboarding outside, the next door neighbour’s two sons whom she knew by sight, gliding past the front window like a scene on television with the sound turned down. Her father had resisted double glazing at the front of the house when they renovated, complaining about the cost.

“Nobody leaves Dhaka for a noisier place,” her mother said a hundred times, until he relented. Afterwards, he made visitors stand by the windows. “You hear that?” her father would say, smiling as they shook their heads, mystified by what he meant them to apprehend. “It’s brilliant,” he’d tell them. “You can’t hear a sound through this stuff.”

Farida was thirteen when her father, owner, with his brothers, of a small denim mill, moved the family to London. Having lived like minor monarchs, attended to by a cook, a scullery maid, a housekeeper, a chauffeur and a guard at the gate, the move necessitated what her sister called a “downward curve in expectations.” There were no people to cook and clean for them, let alone to guard or drive them about, and the new house although large was not nearly the size of the one her grandfather had built, his vision of an English country cottage gleaned from a faded illustration snipped out of The Boys Own Paper but magnified five-fold.

Her eldest brother oiled his way into the community of Bangladeshi drug dealers, while her sister was smartly married off to the son of an eminent Bangladeshi lawyer, himself tipped to become a QC. There was even talk of a political career. Out of hearing, Farida’s father referred to him as “the future Mayor of London.”

“Just imagine it,” he’d say, sipping from a cup of tea in front of the fire, “one of us wearing royal robes.”

At fifteen, Farida returned to Bangladesh for marriage. Her husband, fifty-six, a business partner in a venture with one of her uncles, lamented she was too Western, too slender, “too ready to speak her mind.” She had a cook and a cleaner, a chauffeur and a guard on the gate, but after a year she evaded the guard and almost made it to the airport before being caught. The next time she planned things properly, and now was back in London, watching teens trying to perfect their Ollies.

Her father was seated in his regular chair, a cup and saucer in one hand, stirring a teaspoon with the other. Farida turned to look at her mother, standing at the entrance to the kitchen, but the ropes chaffed at her wrists when she moved. She looked at her father.

“You know,” he said, pointing at her with the silver spoon, “You have brought great dishonour to our family.”

Farida could hear her mother trying to muffle her crying. She leaned her head back, feeling the sharpened blade resting against her throat, held there by her brother.

“It’s legal now,” said her father, to nobody in particular. Everyone knew the laws had changed. “It’s a pity though,” he added, stirring at his tea, long past requiring it. “Spending all that money on the windows.”

There was silence in the room, just the tinkle of his spoon gliding against bone china.

“Well, it’s true,” he said, resting the saucer on his knee. “Nobody gives a hoot now if they hear screams from inside or not.”

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