“O Kaaki, Shall I give you some Naan Cowries? Look I have so many things with me, see, this is a Red Crab, I had put my hand inside the hole and brought it out. Won’t you have a Selfie holding it? And see this , I am sure you will like it…a whelk? Only 10 rupees. Do have one, you sweet Kaaki,” requested Saibul , the dark “mechuaa” boy wearing a cheap blue T –shirt and a dark yellow Bermuda.
Saibul had a certain innocence on his face and always flashed a bright smile whenever he spoke. His city-bred Kaaki replied, “I would like to have the biggest whelk, but tell me something about you and about your place. Do you know to read and write?”
He nodded his head in assertion. ‘Then tell me what is scribbled in your T-shirt?”
With a coy smile on his face, Saibul answered , “ Yes I can read and write, I had been to the local ishkool till standard Four. It’s scribbled S-A-I-L-O-R, Kaaki,” replied Saibul with his innocent smile.
“What does your father do Saibul?” asked Saibul’s newly found Kaaki.
“Basically my father and mother are tea sellers in the beach, but when the tourist session is over, they return to plough our land. Sometimes they work as “Maati Kaataa” labourers when the farming season is over.”
“What do you want to be in the future , my dear child? Do you want to be a fisherman, a tea seller, a farmer or a daily waged labourer?”, asked Deepika with a certain curiosity in her mind.
Saibul smiled again and again and replied, “Let me see, aunty, where time and tide takes me”.
His Kaaki replied , “ Eh! You are fourteen and you are still undecided about your future and you still believe in destiny?”
Saibul remained silent with an ear long smile on his face. His Kaaki said, “No Saibul, you can’t be a dreamer. I don’t want you to see getting lost with time and tide, you have to make a resolution, my dear. You cannot be an ordinary fisherman with a small fishing boat, nor a crab catcher neither a tea-seller on the beach. You see Saibul what’s inscribed in your T-shirt SAILOR. I shall be glad to see you as a sailor navigating all over the globe in a big ship.” Then his Kaaki said in a haste, “I need to go now, I don’t have much time, I shall again speak to you tomorrow , at the same place and at the same time, do wait for me.”
“Kaaki take the whelk,” shouted Saibul as his Kaaki walked briskly following the shore line. She took the largest whelk from him and gave Saibul a Ten Rupee note. Then she added, “Tomorrow I shall bring you a yummy chocolate for you. Do you like Chocolates?”
“Ummm , yes but I like toffees more, the ones my mother and father sells in the tea stall, you see , they are stuffed in the glass jar.”
His Kaaki said,“Okay I will bring a handful of those toffees, for you tomorrow.”
Deepika walked away with a rapid pace towards the small delta, where the sea united with the trickling river. The place was isolated with dense Casuarina , the forest, so dark and eerie, the calm river and the sea kissed each other, both having a divine content after the much awaited union.
Deepika asked “Mr. Roaring Sea , why are you so calm and appear as a de-maned lion? You don’t have your usual raging roars, you are not gnashing your gritty teeth, you have become so silent, almost like a hermit!”
Mr. Roaring Sea replied in a calm and cool voice, “ You see, little woman, it’s not always right to rage in anger and frenzy. I feel so tired after covering the entire course of life- entertaining people from all shades of life with the display of roaring waves throughout. Then I felt very tired and my work became monotonous. People from ages bygone, contemporary and impending will emanate and then perish, as a child, as a father of the man, and in many other different human avatars, but do you know what it feels to be united with a river after a continuous tumultous period of roaring?’
Kaaki nodded in dissension.
“When I met Jaladha , we exchanged so many thoughts with each other, we spoke in sign languages, we exchange our thought waves, just like the way I am doing with you every day, every minute. It is Jaladha who has taught me to be so calm and quiet at times.”
Mr. Roaring Sea had so many stories to narrate to the young listener. But Deepika interrupted and said, “Oh! Oh! Yes I can understand” , then she said, “Bye bye Mr. Roaring Sea, I can’t wait here today anymore, I need to go . Will come tomorrow again to listen more stories from you.” Deepika returned to her homestay for the day busy doing little nothings.
The next day at the specified time, Deepika took some toffee, she bought them from the local shop for Saibul, put those in her trouser’s pocket and hurriedly walked away from her homestay in the early hours of dawn. She tip-toed throughout the beach in order not to disturb the red hermit crabs and she wanted to buy two or three whelks more. But never ever appeared the shy boy though she could feel his eyes followed her everywhere. She exchanged more words with the Casuarina trees they nodded seeing her and said “ Hello”.
Then she met river Jaladha even she wished her “Good Morning”. She stood there exchanging her thoughts with nature and threw pebbles small and large in the waters at random, as if she has become a kid once again. Then after some minutes of idle sitting and still waiting for Saibul she felt dejected. She spoke to herself, “ Perhaps this is the ultimate truth of life, you have to row your boat meeting a million people in your life and some of them will make impressions and some will just fly past, sometimes you will not get a second chance to meet the desired person throughout your life.”
She started day dreaming, “After some ten years, Saibul will grow up as a strong young man, the owner of a tea stall by the beach side, every morning he would sell “garam chai” to his customers, perhaps he will have a family of his own. The T –shirt which has then inscription, “ The sailor” would be too small for him to fit. That’s the way he will be the sailor in the voyage of life, yes a S-A-I-L-O-R contemplating life.”
Then with a heavy heart and a heavy pocket she returned homewards. She lost the interest to exchange conversations with Mr. Roaring Sea and with the River Jaladha. The same day they were returning to their city. Her heart cried for one last meeting with the child, she emptied the toffees out of her trousers pocket and sat with a grim face for some time. She had thought of buying one or two more whelks from Saibul as mementos but alas wishes sometimes become as bitter sweet wishes when they remain wishes only.
Her friends during the return journey asked her now and often, “Why are you so sad Deepika” ? She only smiled at the them and said, “ Oh no its nothing. I am sad because of the departure from such a beautiful and serene place.”