New Life of Hope was the Official DI Frank Lyle Christmas Story 2014. It features recently widowed new mother Almira Desai coming to terms with a future without her murdered husband and the fact that he will never get to see or hold his newborn child, named Sunil in his honour and memory.
It was the early afternoon of Christmas Eve nineteen eighty-two. Almira Desai lay in her hospital bed. She was resting after the exhausting process of giving birth to her son, Sunil, in the early hours of that morning. The baby lay sleeping in the crib. While she hadn’t been forbidden to get up she had been told to exercise caution due to the stitches she had had following the birth.
She blinked away tears. She felt the injustice that her husband was not here to meet his son. They had been so excited about the prospect of becoming parents and then Sunil had been murdered. Almira felt no bitterness and in that she was remarkable. Any pregnant woman whose partner had died before the birth, no matter what the circumstances, should rightly feel that they had been cheated. .Almira knew that there were many babies out there with absent fathers simply because the feckless losers the mothers had chosen to be with hadn’t been responsible or emotionally mature enough to step up to the mark or simply not wanted to know.Almira strongly believed that Fallon’s bad karma had finally caught up with him when he’d been murdered by a drug addict in prison. He had not met Justice for Sunil’s murder in this life, but she had no doubt that he would in the next. That was how her Hindu faith had sustained her from the moment when Sunil had taken his last breath.Now she faced bringing the boy up without his father and at times this filled her with fear and dread. What if she didn’t measure up to the task? Her brother, Jamal, would help out; he would be a steadying influence and good male role model for the child as he grew up. Almira had kept her late husband’s watch, which she intended to give to little Sunil when he was old enough to appreciate it.A nurse came in to check Almira’s blood pressure.“How are you doing, Mrs Desai?”“I’m aright, I’m just hit with the pain that his dad will never see him, never hold him or take him to the park to play football. I know there are plenty of kids born every day without a dad, but in most cases the absence is their choice. My Sunil did not choose to not be here for his son.”The nurse was a bespectacled middle aged Scottish lady with reddish brown hair. Her nametag read Wendy Jones.“I know it’s hard, Mrs Desai, and I can’t even begin to imagine what it feels like. I know that we’re of different faiths, but I believe that your husband is around even though you can’t see or hear him.”“I respect your beliefs,” Almira said, “It’s kind of strange that a Hindu woman should have a baby at Christmas time. Oh I know little Sunil isn’t a messiah, but it is kind of ironic in a way.”Wendy smiled.“Well, he will save you from being lonely and you’ll be able to give him enough love for two people so perhaps he is a messiah in a way.”“I know that his father will always be close by.” Almira said.Wendy had picked up the baby and handed him to his mother. Sunil began to cry and Almira held him to her breast. He was wearing a little blue romper suit that Jamal had brought.“I’ll leave you to it,” Wendy said, “Dr Black will be around later if you have any questions or concerns.”“Thank you.” Almira said.***DS Frank Lyle was bored. There was no major ongoing investigation to get his teeth into at present and he had completed all his outstanding paperwork. The Incident Room felt empty without DS Desai. Frank did not believe in God or any higher power, but he had been sure from the moment that his best friend had taken his last breath that he had never been far away from him. That gave him a kind of comfort, which he did not voice for fear he would be thought foolish.Frank’s son, James, had gone with his mother, Frank’s ex wife, Sarah, to spend Christmas with friends in Cornwall. At eleven James was the spitting image of his father with the same ruffled blond hair and intense blue eyes. Frank wondered if his son would grow to his own lofty height of six feet three. Sarah was five feet seven so not short, therefore there was a chance that James might be tall too. Frank had seen his son the previous day when he had given him his Christmas present and taken him to the cinema and for a burger. Even a year before the atmosphere had been tense between Frank and Sarah so that might not have been possible.That summer James had told his bickering parents to grow up and things seemed better as a result.Frank and his girlfriend, Detective Constable Jayseera Lynch, were planning on having a crime-free Christmas as the criminal fraternity in Ashbeck seemed unusually quiet at this point in time. They were prepared though; they could never quite rule out the possibility of getting a telephone summons to a murder scene.Frank and Jayseera had a snack lunch.“We should go and visit Almira this afternoon,” Jayseera said, “I want to see the baby.”“Don’t get any ideas just yet,” Frank cautioned, “We will have a baby one day, but not at the present time. I want to get my DI rank back, get married and spend some time together first.”Jayseera kissed him.“I quite understand, Frank. I want to live a bit before I become a mother.”“Almira will be fine though,” Frank said, “Yes it will be difficult for her as the baby will remind her of what she’s lost, but she’s a very strong woman and she has Jamal so at least her son will have a decent male role model in his uncle.”“Mark and I had just started trying for a baby when he was shot,” Jayseera said, “I often wonder how I would have coped had I been left a pregnant widow.”Jayseera’s police constable husband had been shot dead some years before.“There but for the grace of God any one of us could go.” Frank said.“I thought you didn’t believe in God, Frank?”“I don’t per se, but it’s just one of those stock things people say.” He replied.“Anyway, Almira looks up to you too Frank,”“Maybe, but I’m not a Hindu so I can’t give the boy guidance on that score.”“Well he’ll know what a good man should be from knowing you.”He pulled her close.“Thanks,” he said.***Almira had just finished feeding Sunil when Frank and Jayseera walked into the ward.“Hello.” She said.“Hello.” Jayseera cooed at the baby.“Sunil, this is your Uncle Frank and Auntie Jayseera,” Almira said, “They were good friends of your daddy’s.”Sunil made a gurgling noise.Frank picked him up.“Hello little one,” he said, ruffling the baby’s dark hair.Sunil made a happy noise.“He’s beautiful,” Jayseera said.“Be careful Frank, she may get ideas,” Almira laughed.“We’ve talked about it already,” Jayseera said, “We will have a baby one day, but we want to spend some time together and get married first.”“Preferably after I make DI again,” Frank added.“You will one day, Frank,” Almira said, “You have good karma. You know I believe that the decision was wrong and I have never blamed you for what happened that day.”“You have no need to,” Frank sighed, “I have blamed myself often enough.”“You know it wasn’t your fault, Frank,” Jayseera said, “It was no one’s fault but Steven Fallon’s and he paid for it.”“Maybe, but I paid too and so did Detective Constable Slade.”There was a brief silence broken only by the sound of the baby breaking wind.“You’ll be a good role model for him, Frank,” Almira said, “You’ll be an example to him of what a man should be.”“Maybe, but he’ll have to look to Jamal as an example of what a Hindu male should be.”Frank had handed Sunil to Jayseera who cuddled him close.“It’s funny,” Almira said, “The Christian faith is all about a baby being born at this time of year, but I’m a Hindu and I know Sunil isn’t an incarnate deity.”“I’m sure there are plenty of babies born to Christian couples this time of year too.” Jayseera said.“He looks like his dad,” Frank said.“Only time will tell whether that’s a blessing or a curse.” Almira said.“I’m sure he’s got the best of both of you.” Jayseera said.~~~Frank and Jayseera left soon after as they had to finish preparing for Christmas.Almira lay with her son in her arms and somehow she knew from that moment on that her beloved husband would live on through their son and whatever life threw at them everything would be okay.