They were both children of poverty, born into the dark slums of East London. Yet their worlds could hardly have been more different. Eric De Milo blessed with a loving Italian family and an artistic gift that gave him a chance for a better life. On the other hand, Helena Whitman who knew little of love or kindness, her gift was for survival. Then astonishingly, love blossoms between them, and for a while, it seems that nothing can tear them apart.
However, can their love endure when it separates Eric from the world he cherishes?
This is the story of a love that yearns to flower despite every obstacle, the kind of love that endures the hardships of the East London slums. The first time he saw her she was in a gallery, standing right in front of one of his pictures. To Eric De Milo, a young artist in London, she was the most beautiful creature he had ever seen. Her name he learnt was Helena, and she came from a world that was very different from his. Then love blossomed between them, and where love is concerned, the differences never seem to matter. In the streets of East London, England, where the dark alleys and the narrow streets hold the secrets of the salty sweat of hard labor, the despair of families living in the tiny rooms of the little terrace houses, big enough to hold families with their children all under one roof.
These are the places, which barely sustain the life of immigrants through the ages. The people who dreamed of a better life, in a civilized European country, the Empire the storytellers spoke about in the corners of their muddy market places, where the streets of London are paved with gold. This is the infamous east end side of the notorious square mile of the City of London, where the rich get richer by the minute and the newcomers of the third world tighten their belts even more, in the hope that they will feel the hunger less.
This is the new generation of the new arrival of yet another race. It is like the gigantic rotating wheel in the local fun fair, where every one of its sitting buckets is holding a different group of nationals. It started with the Yiddish Jews, as they are remembered, rushing in to avoid the European persecution.
[...] ‘I'd love it.' the cups,' Cookie commanded. keep ourselves busy, we don't notice pains, agree?' They stoked the fire and tidied the room while the kettle boiled, and Miriam did not moan once. When they were sipping their tea in front of the fire, they heard the first reedy cry of Helena's newborn baby. Cookie went puffing off down the stairs at once to see what it was. boy,' the midwife told his proud great-aunt. dolly!' Cookie said, weeping freely. [...]
[...] love you Helena.' The crowds on London Bridge bewildered him that evening. The home-going workers jostled around him, and gradually the tussle of their passage pushed him back against the parapet. He turned away from them, seeking some other natural sight to comfort him, and saw that over the river the sunset was just beginning. A spring sunset, a peaceful sunset. He knew he had stood on London Bridge before, leaning on the parapet just as he was doing now, feeling lost and unable to focus his thoughts, but he could not remember when it had been or what he had lost. [...]
[...] The whole of East London was abuzz with rumors of a general strike, which could force Joe and Eric join with such activities, as recently all labor forces were persuaded to join the General Workers Union. Joe was distraught, as he could no longer have any extra income as a part time pianist. His fingers and arms ached and he could even find it difficult to do his material cutting at the clothing factory. His doctor explained that he had the first signs of arthritis and that soon enough the condition could deteriorate. [...]
[...] All the old protective love filled his chest and made his eyes sting with tears. As he stood with his back to them for a second to recover the calm he needed, he hung Aunty Cookie's key on the nail above the dresser. you fed the bird?' His mother said mildly. ‘Yes.' ‘Come and sit next to you mamma,' Rafaela said, patting the chair beside her. You had a good day with your cycle?' Then as he walked into the side lamp light, she saw his torn knuckles and let out a little shriek, dropping the shirt and stretching out her hands towards him. [...]
[...] East London may have its reputation for poverty, but any clever person will add, “this is the place where the ‘cosmopolitanization' of England starts.” Joe De Milo was certain that he would make it here. He anticipated the struggles he would have to face. He would survive and he would overcome any obstacles, anything that comes along! After all, was he not the direct descendant of Milo? Or, so his peasant family and ancestors kept telling him; Just like the Greek athlete who was the most renowned wrestler in antiquity. [...]
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