Five Times – XIV

James clutched the seat tighter and lent his hand to Lara. But it was too late. She lost her balance and swung to the opposite side of the ship. Lara was trying to hold on, but all she could do was just bang on the seats and scream in pain, that added to the worst.

“Lara!” James yelled in a high pitched voice but Lara couldn’t hear James, as the ship was filled with howling sounds all over.

The next moment James released his grip and followed Lara to save her. He was conscious enough to grip something tighter with every move and he clasped Lara’s hands before she could slam the side glass door of the ship. By that time, the ferry too came to the normal position.

But it didn’t last for more than a second. The same thing that hit the ship first now thrashed the other side of the ship. As everyone became aware, they gripped the holder or whatever they got and made them firm. So, the next hit didn’t throw them as like the first. Everyone was swinging inside the vessel, howling extremely. Every parent was hugging their children while crying at the top of their voice. The scream and cry of the people inside the ship filled the air.

No one had even a second to think about what was happening. Adhi held on to the holder with one hand and lifted Diya with other who was crying in fear and Diya wrapped her arms around Adhi’s neck. Luckily, Abi and Ahana were sitting firm in their seat and gripping it harder.

“Hold me tighter, Diya. Don’t worry. You will be safe.” convinced Adhi and tried to reach the seat.

The swaying of the ship had really given a tough job for everyone inside the ferry. They couldn’t save them that easily. They were trying their best to avoid drowning in the water.

Adhi carefully took his step towards the seat with his both the hands lifted above gripping the metal holder. He was nearing the seat and leaned forward to lend Diya to Ahana. But another hit threw him to the opposite side along with Diya. In a sudden shock, Diya’s grip around Adhi loosened and she dragged down his body before gripping his shirt. Diya was squealing in fear and her nails were digging Adhi’s skin. No matter his shirt didn’t protect him. As Diya was clutching his shirt, her weight was pulling him down and he couldn’t balance well as he did before. Also, while being flown to the other side, some sharp materials scratched Adhi’s hands and as a result of it, blood rushed down his hands. He cried in pain at the same time flying in the air with no contact except his hands which was still holding the metal object.

“Diya! Adhi!” everyone exclaimed in shock. Abi and Ahana tried to get up and come forward to save Diya.

“You stay there!” Adhi yelled aloud that stopped them. All were shouting and yelling to save one another. Not only Adhi, but many others had suffered injuries after getting smashed against hard things.

When the swing was minimal, Adhi carefully left his one hand and again lifted Diya up to the same position. Time went on and the struggle came to an end but the dangling of the ship was not. Adhi, Diya, James, Lara, and many others had safely reached the seat and gripped it.

They were literally experiencing a Columbus ride in the middle of the sea. Even though they have the life jackets on, the fear of landing right in the sea water is just scary. The helm of the vessel couldn’t even move the ship for an inch and he had already sent the emergency signal to the harbor. The children were crying in fear, clasping the hands of their parents. The sobbing sounds and the pool of tears filled the ferry.

At the end of every tragedy, something good follows. The same happened here. Though the constant wagging of the ship frightened everyone, it had bought the ring out of the grip. Now, the ring too was moving right and left, following the rhythm of the ship. But no one saw the ring bouncing on the floor as each one was busy praying for them.

But God had different plans.

When the ferry swing to the left, the ring rolled over the floor to its left and stopped hitting James’ legs. Lara was closing her eyes and muttering the prayer. When James felt something hooking at his foot, he leaned down to check with that. He gaped in shock at the look of the green ring lying under his foot. He quickly looked at Lara’s fingers. The ring was missing.

God! How did it come here?

He carefully loosened his one hand and leaned down to pick it up. OMG! The ship had again been rocked to the other side and the ring rolled away from him.

“Lara, the ring,” James yelled and without waiting for Lara, he left his grip on the seat and fell down.

“James, what are you doing?” Lara cried in horror and the next moment she too fell on the floor following him.

“What are you guys doing? Are you mad?” There were too many abuses following Lara and James. But they didn’t even care.

They were straightly dragged to the opposite side of the ferry by the force of the hit. James extended his arm to get hold of the ring and he neared it. But, even before getting it, the ship again swayed to the opposite side and so were he, Lara and the ring. Lara and James collided with each other wailing in pain. But this time, James and Lara seized the metal object that was standing high and they were lying on the floor flat. When the ring was about to cross them, James clenched the ring with both his hands and prodded it to Lara.

But it was too late to note that he had left both his hands and was now scraping on the floor. The most dreadful thing was that he was moving upside down. His head would bang straight at the metal edge of the seats if not stopped.

“James, hold something,” Lara was shouting harder. Both their actions made everyone in the ship panic and they all were bawling at them.

James was waving his hands on both the sides hoping to get something safer before his life could end.

“James! Please hold on, James,” Lara was sobbing heavily and she couldn’t see James struggling. So, she squeezed her eyes harder.

God! Please save James. Stop him now. Please.

The next moment the ship came to halt. James was lying flat in the floor, with his head just inches away from the seats. Not even a slight shake could be found on the ship. There was a pin drop silence inside the ship and everyone was looking at each other unbelievable. Lara stood up and ran towards James, who was absolutely alright and hugged him passionately.

Everyone slowly got up from their seat and was truly surprised at the deafening silence. Some looked still frightened, not able to come out of the fear.

Lara, James and all others were totally confused about the sudden change. At the same time, the helper ship arrived with safety measures for the passengers and some were jumping into the sea to check the cause for this unfortunate thing.

“The emergency team arrived at the right time and saved us,” A voice came from the crowd and everyone nodded and cheered.

Diya still looked terrified and clasped Ahana’s arms. She silently called out Adhi and he turned towards Diya instantly.

“Uncle, will this happen again?” she asked in a shaky voice.

Adhi smiled and got up from his seat and neared Diya. He cupped her face lovingly and said,

“No, baby. We will reach safely. Don’t worry. If anything happens, I am here to save you,”
Diya’s lips promptly extended to a sweet smile. “Thank you, uncle,” she said and looked at Ahana.

“Loads of thank you won’t be sufficient Adhi. You did a great thing,” Ahana said while a drop of tear gushed down her cheeks.

“Sissy, don’t be formal. Please relax,” Adhi raised his palms in the air and tried to comfort Ahana.

“Hey, blood is oozing out!” Abi cried out in shock closing her mouth. Adhi had covered the blood with his sleeves earlier to prevent anyone from noticing it. He didn’t want to create an embarrassing situation. But the constant blood flow had turned his white shirt to partially red.

Suddenly the tension filled the space around him. His mom, dad came running with the first aid box to treat him.

They made then sit at the seat adjacent to Abi, separated by a pathway. His parents surrounded him with the kit. “It’s okay dad. I am fine.” Adhi tried to avoid medicine. But his efforts failed. Abi’s parents and Adhi’s parents were fixing the wound in his hands. The cut was bit deep and it took a while in cleaning the blood and dressing it. Abi, Ahana, and Diya were looking at Adhi with painful heart.

Adhi was finally let free after bandaging his wound and he huffed aloud in relief.

“Are you okay uncle?” Diya’s concerned tone had melted him.

He looked at Diya and nodded his head in approval before saying, “I am fine, Diya, cool,”

Even Ahana cared for Adhi and asked about his health. But Abi just had her head down and didn’t even look at his side.

Adhi smiled to himself seeing Abi and sat straight. But within a second, he felt a pair of eyes watching him and he swiftly turned around to meet the pair of almond colored eyes.

Abi looked at him with concern in her face and a smile on her lips. Adhi could feel thousands of butterflies flying in his stomach as this was the time Abi had smiled at him from her heart. He was so happy that at least he had won a small part of her heart.

He reciprocated the same smile in return. Abi slowly breathed out, looked straight at his eyes and softly muttered, “Thanks,”

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Five Times – XIII

May 16, 2018

“What can we do now, king?” asked one of the whales to Whalros.

The whole whale community had gathered in the ballroom of Whalros’ palace. After the incident with the snorkeling trainer, Anne, no one dared to enter underwater. Even if they did, they came with high protection against whales. So, everyone including Whalros was confused about what to do next.

Whalros was sitting in the throne, with his eyes closed. He was in deep thought while all others stood in front of him crossing their hands across their chest. They were eagerly waiting for his command.

After some time, Whalros quickly bolted his eyes open and said, “I have a plan, but…” his voice trailed off.

“But, will you people do it without fail?” Whalros asked everyone, furrowing his eyes in doubt.

“We will do. Tell us the plan” They said in unison.

“Okay, then listen to me,” said Whalros and elaborated the actual plan to the other whales. Everyone’s eyes sparkled in joy on hearing the plan.

XXXXXX

The sun had spread its rays all over Andaman by 4.30 am itself. The streaks of sun pierced every nook and corner and the whole of Andaman shined.

Lara pulled the blanket off from James forcefully and tried to get him out of the bed. But James was in deep sleep. Lara clasped his shoulders and shook him, hoping to get a positive result. But she was too immature to know his tricks. She tugged his ear and shouted right into the small hole.

“James, Get up! Get up!”

All she heard was some babbling voice along with his moans, “Hmm…Lara, please don’t disturb me.”

Lara breathed out, rolling her eyes in irritation, with her hands supporting her hips. For a while, she looked at James, who was sleeping peacefully like a child. Her bad mood swiftly changed on seeing his cute face. She then decided to let him sleep for some more time and she sat in front of the mirror just opposite to the bed, to set her hair. It was at that time, Lara noticed James’ head tilting up a little and when she was about to turn around, he was back to the same position.

Making fun on the very morning!

Lara eyes and mouth parted for a second and then she was back to normal soon. She didn’t miss the slight smirk on his lips. She slowly ran to the other side of the bed and reached for water. But before she could splash the water on his face, James sprang up from the bed and stopped her.

“Okay, Lara, Chill. I am up” said James with the wink.

“Stop the fun. Go, get ready” said Lara with the false anger running all over her face.

“Sure, my love,” said James and rushed into the bathroom.

By 5.30 am, there was a great crowd of people in Phoenix Bay Jetty harbor, waiting for the arrival of the ferry to reach various islands from Port Blair. Well, the cruise would start only by 6.30, but all the checking things would take an hour or so. The moment, the checking process started, there was a mad rush of people pushing one another to get into the ferry. One poor thing that we need to accept is the government has no place arranged there, for so many tourists to sit or relax. Everyone was in such a rush and all were just banging around entry and exit points.

Poor government! Poor public!

Lara and James finally managed to get onto the ferry that would take them to Havelock Island. At the same time, Adhi and Abi family too boarded the same cruise. After some formal hello’s and hi’s with Abi and Ahana, Lara and James took their time to enjoy the view.

The ship started exactly at 6.30 am. The ferry travel was really soothing and relaxing. Many were standing in the porch of the cruise to have an ocean view. The thought of being surrounded by blue water made Lara excited. James and Lara were standing in the porch, leaning on the support and enjoying the gentle wind. The view at the bottom of the ferry and the white foams of water that was repelled out of the ship was breathtaking.

Lara was busy soaking herself in the beauty of nature until a wave of nausea engulfed her.

“James, I am feeling abnormal,” said Lara, cupping her mouth with her hands.

“Hey, what happened, Lara?” James asked in a worried tone.

“I don’t know. I feel like vomiting.” Lara uttered every word with great difficulty.

“Oh! I think it is because of motion sickness. Did you carry the tablets with you?” questioned James.

Lara looked at him worried and shook her head sideways. James helped her to the seat and made her take a sip of water to feel better. But that changed nothing. Lara constantly cupped her mouth and massaged her throat. The feel was disgusting to her. Other travelers even turned around to look at her only to embarrass her more. She cursed herself for being a mess during the trip and spoiling the good time. She tilted her head and rested on James’ shoulder, still rubbing her throat.

“Shall I ask someone for tablets?” James asked politely.

Lara just waved her hands saying no. Suddenly she jolted back and sat straight in her seat hoping to get some air.

“Why are you sweating like this, Lara?” James said touching her forehead caringly.

She kept on swallowing her saliva and she couldn’t tolerate the loathing sensation. She tried to manage as much as she could, but she failed.

“Please, James, get the tablets. I can’t manage.” Lara leaned down clutching her mouth, stomach and whatever she could to control her from puking.

“Jesus! Please get me the tablets” Lara muttered to herself.

When James was about to hop up from the chair, Lara felt a hand on her shoulders.

She jerked to the side where Diya was standing. Her hand was clasped by her grandmother, Saritha. The little girl smiled at Lara innocently and extended her closed palm to her.

Lara narrowed her brows in confusion and looked at Saritha.

“We saw you being sick and got you the tablets,” said Saritha in a concerned tone. 

Lara sweetly smiled at Diya and took the tablets from her while uttering a soft, “Thank you, baby,”

As soon as Diya and Saritha left the place, Lara looked at James astonished.

“What Lara?”

“How sweet the small girl is! Great nah?” exclaimed Lara.

“Hmm…Yeah…” he said and looked at Diya’s direction and smiled.

“Okay, first take the tablet before you vomit anything” James advised Lara and she followed as she was said.

Lara gulped down the tablet and leaned back on the seat breathing deeply. James sat beside her and comforted her while he constantly glanced at Diya who was standing at a distance and his lips unknowingly let out a smile. Lara had no idea that it was all because of the ring she has.

XXXXXX

Adhi had started his session and Abi and Ahana were sitting adjacent to him with Abi, clutching Ahana tightly.

“Tell me Abi. What incident made you an androphobic?” asked Adhi sitting with his elbows resting on his lap. Even though he knew everything, he wanted Abi to talk out.

“I am sure something had happened. When did it happen? Which class are you then?” asked Adhi raising his voice.

Abi squeezed her eyes and her nose flared in anger. She was irritated by his questions about her past. She didn’t make any eye contact with Adhi. She held her head low with her eyes closed.

She took a deep breath and replied, “Fifth.”

“What happened in your fifth class?” Adhi analyzed Abi’s growing frustration towards him.

Those harrowing memories still had its effect on Abi. Every time she thought of that, she would feel like her body being ripped apart. The session with Adhi didn’t ease her pain even a little. Rather it just aggravated her agony. She hated Adhi to the core for recollecting everything that she actually wanted to forget.

Abi instantly turned towards him and shouted a little above her normal pitch. “Are you enjoying my pain? Can’t you see that I am hurt? Why are you digging my past?” By this time, Abi’s eyes had turned bright red and had welled up.

Adhi patiently looked at her eyes for a while which was fuming in anger. He then sat straight and crossed his arms over his chest. Adhi silently replied, “The reason is, only from your past, I can find a solution for your future.”

Abi turned the other side and compressed her eyes more.

“Tell him everything Abi. He will help you” advised Ahana.

I don’t need anyone’s help.

Abi wanted to yell her heart out. But, she knew that it would be of no use. Again she had to see her parents crying for her that would get her more pain than she was now experiencing. So, she convinced herself and started narrating everything to Adhi.

Her body uncontrollably trembled while she was unfolding that incident. Her voice shook and she had to stop in between to gasp for breath. Adhi too couldn’t bear the pain in his heart. Yet he controlled himself not to express anything. He kept on gulping the lump in his throat and was listening to Abi with a firm heart. Once she was done, her eyelashes failed to hold her tears and she burst out, hugging Ahana for comfort.

Adhi couldn’t manage after that. His eyes too became wet and he suddenly excused himself.

XXXXXX

Lara was back to normal. They again decided to have the ocean view and started towards the porch. The moment they took the first step, something more furious happened. Some heavy rod-like thing hit the plank of the ship harder on the right side and made the cruise tumble swaying it to the left. Before they could guess what had happened, everyone present in the ship was being thrown to the left side. Some had clutched to something and balanced themselves while some others were badly hit on the chairs and door.  

The ship was filled with screeching sounds all over. The ship was dangling on both the sides frightening everyone. The fear of being sunk in the sea was evident in each other’s face. All they could do was just pray and yelp.

In this total Chaos, Lara didn’t notice the ring missing in her hand. The moment the rod hit the plank, her ring loosened and stuck in between the seats.

“God, please save us.” Lara cried aloud. But the situation was getting worse by each passing minute.

Five Times – XII

Abi swiftly sprang up, pushing her palms hard on the bed.

“Abi, please calm down,” Ahana said softly to her, with her hands supporting her shoulder. But Abi didn’t lend her ears to Ahana; rather she was engrossed in thinking about Adhi.

She sat up with the help of Ahana and crossed her legs across her knees. All the while Adhi was staring at Abi, with his arms crossed over his chest. That look disturbed Abi. She rolled her eyes in irritation and let out a frustrated huff, but she couldn’t raise her voice against him to tell him not to look at her.

“How do you feel now, Abi?” Ahana asked in a concerned tone.

“Hmm… I am a bit thirsty,” she said in a very low voice.

Ahana looked around the room for water but she could find only the empty water bottles. “Wait… I will go and get water,” Ahana said and moved a little, but Abi pulled her back to the bed.

“I don’t need water. I can manage” Abi said and slightly turned over Adhi’s direction, still having her heads down.

Until then, Adhi was observing Abi’s behavior with a stern look. Now, he breathed out a little before extending his hands to Ahana for the water bottle. With no delay, the moment he disappeared from the sight, Abi shooted so many questions at Ahana.

“Why is he here Ahana? You know, I fainted only because of him. Please ask him to stay out of me. I freak out whenever I see him.” Abi blurted everything out in a rage.

“No Abi. Please listen to me. He is…”

“I need no explanation Ahana. Just tell him to be away from me.” Abi finished arguing with Ahana and sat straight in the bed, with a furious look in her eyes.

Ahana was annoyed at her sister’s behavior but she couldn’t control her. She took a deep breath and said, “Fine, if you are that much disturbed, then you tell him. Why should I do that?” Abi didn’t miss the sarcasm in Ahana’s voice.

“Okay, I will tell him.” Abi snapped at Ahana. Then she moved her legs close to her chest and rested her head on her knees. There was an awkward silence between those sisters.

The moment Abi heard the doorknob tilt open, she jerked up from her position. She rapidly sat in the same position as she was before. Ahana pressed her lips hard to control her sarcastic laughter.

Adhi came with the bottle filled with water. He gently lent it to Abi. Abi turned her head the other side refusing to take the water from him. Ahana shook her head in dismay before getting the bottle from Adhi and handing it to Abi.

Abi hesitatingly took the water and drank it making her throat feel good. She looked at Adhi through the corner of her eyes to check with him. Adhi was again staring at her in the same way as he did before.

What on earth my face has?

There was again an unpleasant silence that filled the room. Neither of the three opened their mouth. Ahana with a slight smirk on her face signaled Abi to tell him everything. Abi was more irritated by Ahana’s reaction.

When both the girls were busy in talking in their secret language, Adhi voice caught their attention.

“Abi, I want to talk to you. Can I have a few minutes?” Adhi asked Abi and waited patiently for her reply. He had his hands into his pockets and his eyes were firmly on Abi’s.

Abi again felt the nervousness coming back. She directly looked at Ahana and shook her head in sideways.

“Don’t worry Abi. Your sister will be here with you while I talk to you,” Adhi added another point to his request.

Ahana too nodded in approval.

Abi understood that he won’t leave without talking to her. So she came to a conclusion and sat in the bed, facing the blue wall right in front of her. She was clutching Ahana’s wrist tightly.

When Adhi took a step forward, Abi’s grip tightened on Ahana’s and her body shook a little unknowingly. Adhi dragged a chair lying beside the bed and made him comfortable in it.

“See Abi, I know very well about your fear. And…”

“How do you know?” Abi busted at Adhi and without giving him a chance to answer she turned around and looked at her sister questioningly.

“I didn’t tell him, Abi” Ahana confirmed her.

“No one told me. I found it myself” he lied.

Abi’s eyebrows joined together for a while in thought and then looked back at him in a way that demanded an answer from him.

“Well, I am a psychiatrist” Adhi blurted out.

Abi’s eyes expanded in shock. Before her mind could accept the piece of information she had just heard, she was loaded with next.

“Abi, it is fine if you don’t take me as a friend, but accepting me as a doctor won’t be that bad. I can cure you with the counseling sessions if you wish. I promise you, your sister will be with you all through your sessions.” Adhi voiced his thought and leaned back in the chair leisurely.

Abi was totally muddled at the things that were happening around her. Psychiatrist…Counseling…doctor…man…

Abi pressed either side of her head with both her hands and squeezed her eyes in thought.

“Okay, take your time and decide. Bye” said Adhi and left the room.

XXXXXX

Intelina was thinking about the ring all day. She was glad for the dead rope on one hand, but on the other hand, she was worried about where the ring was. Suddenly the rope that was lying on the ground twirled in the air and rapped her again. She was shocked at the view of it. She shuddered on all ways, but she couldn’t get out of that grip.

What’s happening?

The moment she was about to cry aloud at the almighty, she heard thunderous footsteps and she went silent.

What if he already knew about the untied rope?

Whalros stormed into the room with the severe look on his face. The instant he saw Intelina in tears, his joy had no bounds. He literally enjoyed her tears.

“I am so glad to see you crying. These magic ropes won’t leave you for your tears,” he said with an evil smile.

Thank god!! He didn’t know anything.

“Why did you come here now?” Intelina busted at him.

Whalros’ face suddenly changed to a serious one. He slowly neared Intelina. With each step he took, Intelina’s heart skipped. There was just an inch gap between them. Intelina was breathing hard. Whalros leaned forward and Intelina pushed her against the chair. He extended his arms towards Intelina, which made her tremble with fear. She closed her eyes in disgust.

Intelina waited for the worst to happen. But to her good luck, Whalros gripped the rope tightly and pulled it a couple of times. After being sure that the rope was hard on her, his serious look on his face vanished and again the egoistic smile spread across his lips.

Intelina slightly opened her eyes to check on the situation. Learning that nothing bad had happened, she parted her eyelashes fully and gave him a nasty look.

“Hmm… nothing. I felt something fishy. But now it is very clear. You can’t escape little girl,” he said and smirked one last time before marching out of the room.

Intelina exhaled with relief. Once the footsteps faded, the rope slacked and fell back on the floor lifeless.

Wow!! God is always great!!

“Please, God! Protect everyone until I am out of these four prisons,” she muttered a silent prayer, closing her eyes.

XXXXXXX

The clock ticked 6 in the evening. After resting for half an hour, Abi splashed the cool water on her face to feel fresh and was finally ready to explore the iconic place in Andaman. She had heard great things about the Cellular Jail that had increased her curiosity to visit it soon.

The cellular Jail has a harrowing history which every Indian ought to know. Now, this may be one of the national memorials of India, but, can you believe that it was the same place where many Indians had lost their lives? Yes, it was after the first war of independence (1857); Indians were badly treated than ever. They were forced to deport from India and were imprisoned in this same jail in Andaman, separating them away from the Indian mainland.

It was in those days, crossing a sea means a loss of their caste. And that would lead to the social exclusion of the very person who crossed overseas. The person would rather die than to live with the loss of their caste. Even though it looks irrelevant to today’s modern age, it was one of the traditions for those people. (No wonder!! Even today we could see murders in name of honor killing). Indians were locked up and truly tortured to death. This structure stands as a witness to the torment, the freedom fighters had experienced. Being an Indian, it is worth visiting.

After 15 minutes of the ride in the auto rickshaw, these two families got down at the entrance of the Cellular Jail. Everyone was spellbound at the sight of the massive building. The jail has a big tower at the center surrounded by 3 prolonged wings (4 wings were demolished). They were quickly taken on a short trip around the jail.

Abi was fascinated by the structure itself. She was eagerly following the instructor to explore more of it. She was excited at the architecture. But, on the other side, Adhi was so tight and firm. He already knew the history of this place which his grandfather (retired army officer) had told. His heart ached when he stepped into the place.

Everyone reached the cells where the Indians were locked up. There was only one small window at the side of the room, with the barred door on the opposite side. The instructor was explaining about the glory of the jail staining inside the cell. It was not more than ten minutes, Abi, Adhi, their family, and all others were sweating profusely in the cell. Many of them started suffocating with lack of air. Think of how much pain the Indians could have endured staying there for long years!!

Then they were taken to a place which had an oil grinding machine. The main job of the prisoners was to churn out the oil which even the Buffaloes couldn’t do with ease. The rebelling Indians would be tied to the rope and would be forced to grind it. Abi’s eyes instantly welled up on hearing the ill-treatment that her former generations had survived. Her hands clasped her heart unknowingly, not able to even guess how much suffering the fighters went through.

After that, they all came to the most dreadful place, the gallows. Adhi’s heart sank the moment he saw the room.

“How many souls hanged here lifeless hoping for better India!!” he thought to himself. He couldn’t stand there for long and he excused himself from everyone.

After visiting the several galleries of freedom fighters and the art gallery on various floors, all were now ready for the prominent light and sound show. The show started and the jail was glowing in the live performance of the light. It not only beautified the structure of the building but had narrated the darkest history of the independence movement. Everyone could feel the pain and also the glory behind it, both at the same time.

Adhi had Goosebumps all over his skin and he couldn’t hold a drop of tear that escaped the corner of his eyes. He blinked his eyes faster than usual to hold on his tears. The show ended and everyone made their way to the hotel with a heavy heart.

The first day of the trip had come to an end. Everyone went to bed peacefully, with the pride of being an Indian, waiting for the next morning.

Five Times – XI

Adhi was leaning back in his chair with his eyes fixed on the rustling blue waves through the window. His heart was pounding with thoughts about Abi.

I have to start talking to her. But, the severity of her fear is at the peak. She will surely react harshly. What can I do?

“Adhi, are you okay?” The moment Adhi heard his dad’s appeasing voice; he straightened himself in the chair.

“Yeah dad, I am fine… Just… thinking about…. Abi” Adhi said hesitatingly, his gaze towards the floor.

“Hmmm… don’t worry Adhi. She will be fine.”

“Hmm…Okay, dad” Adhi nodded smiling at his dad sadly. Even though Adhi tried his best to hide his emotions, the pain was evident in his eyes.

Bharat wanted to change the topic.

“Okay come, Adhi. Let’s go to the beach” said his dad to which Adhi agreed.

It was around 4.30 in the evening. Everyone was getting ready for a refreshing beach view. The beach is straight in front of the Peerless Resort and everyone chose to walk the little distance.

The beach is named Corbyn’s Cove beach which is one of the prominent beaches in Port Blair. The unsullied sandy beach with clear blue waters and the lush green coconut palms are the flawless place to relax. The magnificent sea and the picturesque background of the trees are the delights for the naturalists. Also, the beach provides a lot of options with water sports for adventure enthusiasts. Even though the beach is a bit unclear due to a lot of tourist attractions, it is still a marvelous place to look at.

Damn public…

Well, to keep it simple, a click of sunset, a soothing breeze and a peace of mind is what this beach presents itself with.

Abi clasped Diya by her hand and was heading towards the beach. Initially, Diya was not much interested in sightseeing, as she was woken up in half sleep. But when she stepped on the cool sands of the beach, the enthusiasm clutched her heart. Diya freed herself from Abi and started playing in the sand.

“Diya, what are you doing? Come with me” Abi tried to pull Diya out of the sand but her efforts went useless.

Diya was busy building something in the sand and she was in no mood to listen to Abi.

“Diya it is getting dark. Don’t play with the sand. Come.” Abi said in a harsh tone and dragged Diya with all her force.

“Ummm… I won’t come. Leave me Abi” Diya whined at Abi and pulled her hands out of her grip. Diya gave Abi an angry face for a second and resumed back to what she was doing.

Abi suddenly changed her tone softer than before and said, “Diya, you want to see the sun disappearing from the sky? Then, come with me there.” Abi was smiling sweetly at Diya, pointing her fingers at the sky.

Diya observed Abi for a while. Abi thought that she had succeeded in influencing Diya. But the exact opposite had happened.

“Abi, the sun won’t disappear ever. Only the earth rotates. Don’t you know that?” replied Diya. Abi’s lips parted on hearing Diya’s words and she cupped her mouth in embarrassment. She rotated her eyelids on all sides to make sure that no one had seen her getting shamed.

By that time, everyone reached the beach. Thank god, Diya immersed herself in her sand construction and didn’t humiliate Abi in front of everyone.

Abi wanted to leave the place as soon as possible and she hurriedly turned around only to be banged at Lara.

“Hey. Lara. You are he…” Ahana and Abi started simultaneously but stopped midway when they saw a guy clutching Lara’s hands. The girl who was crying all the way in her flight was now blushing in front of them.

Lara understood their confusion and cleared them with all the information she knew and introduced James to both of them. Ahana greeted James and gave Lara a slight hug. Abi just smiled at both of them. Lara didn’t care to look at Abi.

“Aunty, your ring is amazing. I like it very much” complemented Diya, looking at Lara’s shining green ring.

Lara gave James a shy smile and thanked Diya.

And everyone was about to part their way. Suddenly, Abi held Lara’s arms.

“I am sorry,” Abi said in a soft voice, looking straight at Lara.

Abi couldn’t get the clear reason behind her thought to apologize to Lara. But something forced her to. Lara was confused at first, but then she nodded at Abi and leaned forward for a hug before leaving. Ahana was on cloud nine.

God!! What changed my sister’s mind?

Soon Abi excused herself from Ahana and her parents and she spotted a secluded place, free from the crowd and cherished the beauty. She sat there down at the chill sand, hugging her legs, with her eyes locked with the sun.

Back at the other end of the beach, were Lara and James leaning their head against each other. Lara’s right hand was clipped with James’ while her other hand was resting below her keens slightly curving it. The waves came rushing to their feet before dragging itself back. It competed with one another in reaching the shore before breaking down at the sand and retreating back. Lara and James sat in silence drowning at the sight of the sunset.

The yellow ball of fire slowly turned to orange and the mix of colors with the dusky sky was an astonishing view. The sun was half into the sea and its reflection in the sea was mind-blowing. Eyelashes had refused to shutter. After a while, the biggest star had fully set, letting thousand other stars to shine in the sky.

One gigantic wave came rushing into the shore. Lara’s eyes were glued at that big wave. Her eyelashes were parting more and more when she saw the wave nearing the shore with the same force. With the blink of an eye, the wave hit Lara. This time it didn’t stop just with her foot, rather it brushed itself against the green ring on Lara’s hand that was hugging her knee. Lara and James jolted at the sprinkles of water on their faces.

Wow!! Is this what we call Destiny?

One of the five ropes loosened and fell down making Intelina open her eyes in a jerk. She was still lying down on the floor sideways. She managed to gaze down at the ropes which were only four now. She gathered all her energy and pushed her legs down at the floor hard. After some minutes of struggling, she finally sat straight as before. She gladly looked at the rope that was lying down.

So, the ring is somewhere close to the sea…your end is not too far, Whalros!!

Happy tears gushed down her chin when she closed her eyes and thanked the Almighty.

Abi was totally lost in nature’s beauty and the rhythmic crash of the waves rang in her ears like a piece of melodic music. Her heart felt light. She wanted to doze off there at that very instant. But the flocks of people moving here and there made her change her mind. She was back to enjoy the atmosphere but a voice stopped her.

“Abi…”

Abi was dazed on hearing a male voice from her right. She swiftly turned around to see Adhi sitting beside her. She gasped in shock and started shivering in fear. Her jaw dropped on seeing him and she could sense her breath getting worse.

Why is he here?

She suddenly got up and wanted to move but her legs didn’t support her. Her legs were trembling and she couldn’t take a step from there. She had creeps all over her skin and her sweat glands did a great job in bathing her with her sweat. Abi searched for any of her family members to come and solace her. But she couldn’t spot anyone in the crowd that added to her frustration. Adhi too stood up and started comforting her.

“Abi, please don’t panic”

You just leave and I will be okay…

Abi could hear his voice ringing slowly in her ears but she didn’t want to listen to him. Her heart rate began to accelerate. She placed her hand on her heart trying to control herself. Her throat went dry and she heaved heavily that looked like something was blocking her breathing pathway.

Abi, he won’t hurt you. Control your fear. No…No… can’t you see? He is a man.

“Abi… breathe slowly. Just breathe slowly” Adhi shouted at the top of his voice. But all Abi could hear was some murmurs from him. Her ears were blocked out of her nervousness.

Abi, think of Lara’s words. Don’t judge him now.

Abi’s ears were ringing with random sounds but nothing was clear to her than her own thoughts. Her heart was thumping aloud in her head. She closed her ears tightly with her hands trying to get some control. Now her vision too was blurred and she could barely see anything, than Adhi shaking his hands and muttering something.

“Okay Abi, relax. I will call Ahana for help” Adhi tried his best one last time.

Abi, don’t faint in front of him. Don’t give him a chance. Abi was so stubborn not to listen to him.

Adhi understood that the situation is getting worse. He also knew that Abi couldn’t balance herself for long. But he was so sure not to touch her because that would just aggravate her fear of men. So he looked straight at Ahana and waved at her. Yes, Adhi had already asked Ahana to keep an eye on them when he decided to talk to Abi.

Ahana appeared at the right time, saving Abi from falling down. The moment Abi saw Ahana by her side she felt relieved, but the next moment she lost her energy and fainted.

“Abi… Abi…” Ahana tapped Abi’s cheeks a couple of times. But Abi just groaned in response. Abi was not fully unconscious. She could very well hear everything now but was extremely tired after what had happened just before.

Abi rested her head on Ahana’s shoulders, with her eyes closed. Ahana held her tightly by her waist.

“Sissy, take her to the room. Quick.” Adhi’s voice was filled with concern and care. He fastened Ahana towards the resort.

“What happened, Adhi?” Ahana asked confused while on her way to the room.

Ahana, Adhi made me tremble in fear.

“Anxiety attack,” Adhi said bluntly.

And the reason is you.

“What!!” Though Ahana couldn’t get anything, she gave Abi a worried look.

“Will she be normal soon?” Ahana’s voice carried a hint of sadness.

I will be okay if he didn’t talk to me.

“Don’t worry sissy. She will be normal after taking some antidepressants.” Adhi assured Ahana.

What? Why is he using medical terms? Who is he?

“But this is just a temporary measure. For a long-term cure, Abi should try to control her mind whenever fear takes over” blurted Adhi to Ahana.

Hey… He is talking about my fear. How did he know?

Back in the room, Abi was lying back in the bed, sleeping peacefully with the effect of the antidepressant. Ahana and Adhi were waiting beside her, the whole time till she opened her eyes.

Abi’s eyelashes fluttered at first and then she managed to open her eyes fully to see Ahana on her left caressing her forehead. She smiled lovingly at Ahana.

Abi then slowly rolled her eyes around the room until her eyes froze. Her eyeballs protruded out on seeing Adhi again.

Please!!! I am not ready for the next attack.

Five Times – X

“Tell me, James. When did you get out? And how?” Lara had asked this same question more than ten times. The only thing James did was, just smile at her. Lara was getting irritated with James’ reaction.

“Will you tell me or shall I call the lawyer to know everything?” Lara asked him with a fake angry look. Again she got the same smile as a response that tested her patience.

Lara shook her head in distress and took her mobile to dial for the lawyer.

“Hey, wait, Lara… Hmm… Okay, I will tell you. Don’t call him.” James finally assured her.

“Go on then,” said Lara placing her mobile beside her. Her eyes were fixed with James’ waiting for his reply. She was eager to know it.

James looked down avoiding her gaze and said, “Will you be disappointed… when I tell you that…. everything is…. just a prank?” He said and raised his eyes, still with his chin down, to check Lara’s reaction.

“What!!!” James saw multiple reactions in Lara’s face. She looked shocked, confused, annoyed and much more.

James just sat in silence observing her closely.

“I am asking you, James. Is this just prank? Say yes or no” Lara was now furious on James for playing with her emotions.

“Well, the answer is YES and NO,” said James that added to her anger.

Lara closed her eyes out of angst and calmed herself a little before telling him, “Don’t irritate me, James”. The moment she told that hot tears fell through her cheeks. The tears came out of rage from her red turned eyes.

“Hey, Okay… Don’t cry” James leaned forward and wiped the tears. “Lara, it was true that I got caught and jailed…” he said and passed for a while before saying, “But…. not for more than two days”.

Lara’s anger had subsided but not her confusion. Before she could throw another question, James started to narrate everything.

“I was caught for getting inside the restricted area. It was my bad luck; I left the proof in my room. So the police doubted me and took me to the inquiry. Though I told them to provide them with my ID which is back in my room, they were not ready to believe me. I wondered thinking, “Did I look that horrible?” Well, So I had no other way than to call our lawyer here. And you know what? The day the lawyer came here, I was freed.” He finished and looked back at Lara.

“Then why didn’t inform me that you are safe?” Lara asked with her blue pair of eyes spread, which is still red in anger.

“I wanted to tell you. But then, I thought of your birthday which is just a month away and thought of surprising you. The lawyer too accepted my idea”

Lara twisted her lips in anger and started slapping James out of rage. “You know how week I was, both mentally and physically? Do you have any idea of how much pain I went through? Even my mom didn’t tell me the truth” Lara cried letting all her emotions disappear along with her tears.

“Lara, no one knew about this. I had told the lawyer to inform them once you are here” James said and held Lara close to him by wrapping his hands around her waist. Lara pushed his hands away and she jerked herself up from the bed.

“Don’t talk to me James” She snapped at him and sat on the chair in the corner, avoiding James. James followed her to the chair and tapped her shoulder. The moment he touched her, his hands were again pushed away by Lara. James was vexed by her action.

“Lara, what did I do now?” James asked a little irritated.

“Lara, you are spoiling the good time we have.”

He shifted his gaze to the other side and took a deep breath, trying to control his anger. After soothing himself, he said softly, “Okay, leave it. I have a gift for you.”

“I don’t need anything. Just don’t talk to me.” Lara again snapped back and this time James had lost his temper.

“Lara, you are overreacting. What did I do to deserve this attitude?” He raised his voice.

What else a girl needs than just a spark to fight? And she got one. The instant James raised his voice, Lara too started to argue with full energy and soon the place looked like a battlefield. Finally, James gave up. He couldn’t shout at her for more than ten minutes.

“Fine, Lara. The mistake is mine. Sorry” James admitted.

“I don’t need your sorry. Just don’t talk to me”

“God!!! What do you want me to do Lara? You have any idea that you are hurting me?”

“See who is telling that?” Lara was in no position to understand him. She was still blaming him for her pain.

James squeezed his eyes harder and exhaled the air out. “Enough Lara. Don’t say another word.”

“Hmm… Whenever I start a word, you try to keep my mouth shut. Do you want me to just listen to you?” Lara’s tantrum had no bounds.

James sat in the corner of the bed supporting his head with his fingers. He chose to be silent for the rest of the fight. “Why are these girls so adamant? I wanted to surprise her. Is that wrong?” He thought to himself. It took him quite a long time to convince her. Even then she couldn’t be consoled. Frankly, James had survived the toughest part of his life.

Time went on. The silence filled the room. James sat in the same place and he didn’t want to aggravate the situation further. So, he let her alone.

After some time, James felt a tap on his shoulders. She instantly looked up to see Lara standing by his side.

Lara stared at him and lowered her gaze to the floor. “Sorry” she muttered under her breath. She actually meant it.

What happens If I say, I don’t need your sorry. He fought a silent war in his mind.

“Be ready for another battle, if you say that” his mind warned him.

“I said sorry” Lara’s voice echoed distracting James from his thoughts.

“Hey, it’s okay baby. You need not to ask sorry. The mistake is mine.”

Idiot… Give her the tough time in convincing you, man.

“No James. I am wrong. I shouted at you right?”

What should I tell her now? Yes or no?

James remained silent without telling anything. Lara hugged him softly and James couldn’t resist than holding her close to him.

“Where is my gift, James?” Lara queried him with her head resting on his chest and her arms around his neck.

Is this why she talked to me? Whatever is the reason, she is finally normal. James let out a sigh of relief.

He then clutched her shoulders and propelled her away from him making her stand close to him. He then requested her to close her eyes. James smiled abruptly when she obeyed him instantly. He then slid his hand inside his pocket and took his hands out with his palms closed, clasping something tightly.

He slowly took Lara’s hands and slid the ring in her ring finger. Lara couldn’t wait to see his gift and she instantly opened her eyes without waiting for his command.

“Wow! This is astonishing” Lara squealed in joy and kissed ring hard. The ring was shining with all green and Lara’s eyes sparkled on seeing the ring.

“James, you are a load of surprises today. Thank you so much” she said and hugged him tightly to express her gratitude.

Five Times – IX

Lara swayed the door open and when she took her first step, she was puzzled. She heard some hushing sounds that came from inside the room. She suddenly reversed her steps from the door, maintaining a safe distance.

Who is there in the closed room?

She didn’t want to take the risk as she had enough to already worry about. So, she let the door as it was and thought of reporting it at the reception. When she turned to walk away from the room, her wrist was grabbed from behind and she was pulled inside the room all of a sudden.

“Ahhhhhh!!! Leave me! Who are you?” Lara snapped not knowing who the hell had pulled her in.

The jerk of the pull was so intense that made her glitch and she felt drowsy. Her legs danced on the floor making her lose her balance. Luckily, she got hold of the chair that was beside her and took deep breaths. She then rubbed her eyes to have a clear vision around her. She rolled her eyes on all the corners of the room without moving a little. But, she could picture out no one in the room.

Am I imagining things? No no…I am sure that someone pulled me in. Then who is it? No one is here.

Only then she noticed the change in the room. When Lara first opened the door, the room was all bright and glowing with lights. But now, the fan and the lights in the room were all still. The room looked dull. Clearly, she didn’t switch off any of them.

Am sure there is someone here.

She was nervous and her eyes were already getting wet. Out of fear, she grabbed the chair as tight as she could until she got her palms hurt. She exhaled and inhaled with great difficulty.

Getting some courage from nowhere, she adjusted her throat and asked with the shaking voice, “Who…who are you? Please… come?”

No response.

Now, she was highly afraid of the stranger and she was already sweating like anything. She once again rolled her eyes all over and decided to leave the room before anything bad happens. She hurriedly took her bag and turned to leave the room. But even before she could start, she stopped. She froze at the same place with widened eyes.

The pair of shoes behind the curtains of the windows caught her attention. The curtains were waggling that confirmed the motion behind it. She analyzed the figure standing behind the screen and she couldn’t get any clear view of that figure. But she could be sure that it was a male.

Why would he hide like this, if he had no wrong intentions?

She rapidly picked a pen from her bag and made sure that the nib was sharp enough to defend her. She placed her bag back on the chair and she slowly watched her steps towards the curtain, making sure her scandals didn’t make much noise. She neared the curtain and she stood at arms distance from the screen. She heaved heavily and gripped the pen tightly with her right hand.

After a couple of minutes of struggling with her fear, she finally raised her left hand and extended it towards the curtain. Her heartbeat fastened.

She squeezed her eyes tightly, gripped the pen. The moment she touched the screen, with no delay, she swept the curtain off and ran the sharp nib straight towards him. There was an awkward silence. Lara’s eyes were closed and her head down. She could feel the grip in her right wrist that made her loosen the grip on the pen. Lara slowly raised her head and opened her eyes to face the life-threatening dare.

The grip on her wrist slowly loosened and the pen fell on the floor making a cluttering noise when she saw the man standing in front of her. She was paralyzed on seeing him. Her eyes, with tears, already flowing down, spread, and she couldn’t believe that it was for real. She extended her hand and touched his cheeks. And yes, he responded with a smile.

He then held out his hands asking for a hug, uttering in a soft and soothing voice, “Happy birthday my dear, Lara,”

“JAMES!!!!!!! You……” she couldn’t talk more. Her throat choked. She rightly rushed into his arms and all she could do was, just cry his name out. She buried her face in his chest and sobbed uncontrollably.

He could understand her condition well and he didn’t stop her. Rather, he let her cry her heart out and just wrapped his arms around her, pressing his lips against her head.

Once Lara’s sob subsided a little, he cupped his palms around her face and made her star straight at his eyes. The two pairs of eyes were overflowing with emotions. They stood still staring at each other, talking through their eyes (the ever best language to express love) forgetting every other thing.

James then leaned forward and kissed her on her forehead. Lara closed her eyes, letting the tears rush down her chin. And his lips traveled all through her face making her moan with pleasure. They didn’t talk much for almost an hour, other than hugging and kissing each other under the bed covers.

Finally, the time had come to let the secret out. Lara couldn’t wait anymore to hear it. So she blurted out. “Now, tell me, how did you get out of the bars? When did that happen? Do you know? The lawyer didn’t tell me anything! Is this all your plan to not let me know anything? You wanted to surprise me on my birthday, this way?”

James was silently listening to her questions with a gracious smile.

XXXXXXXXXX

“Where is my bag?” shouted Diya that attracted everyone’s attention.

“Why are you shouting Diya? It is here nah?” Abi pointed towards the Barbie doll bag.

“Not this one. The trolley which had my dress is missing,” Diya squealed at the top of her voice.

“Don’t shout Diya. Let’s search it,” said Saritha with an angry look in her face, warning Diya to control her voice.

“No… I had many new dresses there in the trolley. It was missing.” Now Diya had started sobbing.

“Don’t cry unnecessarily Diya.” Abi tried to comfort the little girl.

At the same time, Prasanth came out of the restroom and asked what had happened.

On knowing about Diya’s trolley, he said, “Hey! I forgot to tell you. As the boot of our taxi was full, I gave Diya’s trolley to Adhi.”

“I hope it was there in their room,” he said and looked at Diya who was smiling innocently.

“Okay, then I will go, get it,” said Diya excited and started to move. But a sharp gaze stopped her.

Diya turned to look at Abi, who was glaring at her. Diya remembered her warning at the airport. She then hung her head down and said, “Sorry Abi. You go and get it.”

“What!! Me? Ask your mom to get it” said Abi.

Ahana had gone out just before this incident and Diya had no other way but to force Abi on it.

“Please, Abi, get it for me,” Pleaded Diya.

“Abi, what’s there in getting a bag? Go, get it.” Saritha ordered her.

Even though she wanted to get Diya her trolley, she feared to face Adhi once again.

“Why can’t you go, Ma,” Abi asked looking at her mom.

“My legs are paining Abi,” her mom said and massaged her knee with the worried face.

“It’s okay Abi. I will go.” said her dad to which Abi refused all of a sudden. She didn’t like her dad apologizing to Bharat earlier in the airport and now she didn’t want to make her dad thank them.

“Okay, I am going,” she said and fastened her steps towards their room. She rang the bell and she was nervous because she expected Adhi to open the door.

But to her surprise, the door flung open and it was Adhi’s dad, Bharat, smiling at her. A great sense of relief hit her.

“Hey, Abi, please come in,” Bharat greeted her in and she obeyed instantly.

She rolled her eyes all over the room, but Adhi couldn’t be spotted. She sighed in ease.

“Come Abi. Sit,” said Reka.

“Hmm….It’s okay aunty… Diya’s bag…”

“Yeah… It was here” Reka said with a jerk. She took the trolley and handed it back to Abi.

“Thanks… ahmmm….we are getting the things arranged in the room. So I will come after some time. Bye…” Abi said and rushed out of the room. She didn’t want to give them a chance to start a formal conversation.

Abi was finally happy that she didn’t get an embarrassing situation. But it was really hard for Abi to accept the fact that a part of her heart wanted to see Adhi. She dragged the trolley across the floor, with her mind recalling his black eyes. Suddenly her eyelashes stopped fluttering. She saw two figures standing at a distance in the porch. She couldn’t take her eyes back from glancing at them.

Ahana and Adhi were standing in the porch and talking to each other. Ahana was sharing everything with Adhi that had happened in the flight. She looked too worried about Abi.

“I think it will be tough to change Abi,” said Ahana with a disappointed look.

Adhi turned towards Ahana. The moment he turned his face, he didn’t miss to see Abi who had stormed into the room just after seeing him.

He tilted his head towards the right and let out a tight-lipped smile.

“I agree with you, sissy. It will be tough, but not impossible” Adhi said with his eyes still fixed at the place, from where Abi had just disappeared.

Ahana saw the teeming confidence in Adhi that had tripled the respect she had towards him.

Back in the room, Abi cursed herself for committing the same mistake again.

“Why am I feeling strange whenever I look into his eyes? What is there in those eyes?” Abi immersed herself in her own thoughts.

Five Times-VIII

May 15, 2018

Intelina promptly opened her eyes and straightened her head, when she heard heavy footsteps nearing her. She was so sure that it was Whalros. And yeah…she was right.

The moment Whalros stepped into the room Intelina’s fear rose to heights. Intelina saw an unusual joy in his face.

“He looks excited today! Did he hurt someone? Why is he here now?” her heart ached with lots of imaginations. Her thoughts halted when she heard Whalros voice echoing the room.

“Halo my dear Intelina!”

“Don’t ever call me ‘dear’. I hate you to the core”. She was fuming with anger and snapped at him right away.

But Whalros looked so cool and said, “But I love you, DEAR”. He deliberately said the word again to irritate her.

“Shut up!” she screamed in anger and abruptly turned her head to the left refusing to see him.

“Okay cool! I just want to tell you something” Whalros said and passed for a while to have a look at Intelina. The streaks of lines in her forehead and her furrowed eyebrows said that she was totally confused.

“Be strong to here the bad news Intelina. God! Where are you?”

On the other hand, Whalros felt glad when he saw her eyes rolling in fear, breathing heavily and feeling uncomfortable.

“You know, we, the whales, had a great feast today”

“What?” Intelina turned again to see him straight through his eye. Her blue eyes which were furious a second before was now widened in shock”

“Yes, we had. She tasted so good. Mmm…..mmm….mmm”

“Stop it!! What are you saying? I can’t get anything!” shouted Intelina.

“Well! You are so eager to hear everything. So let me tell you” said Whalros with a sarcastic smile.

When Whalros narrated everything that had happened back with Anne, Intelina couldn’t control her tears and she burst out. She twisted her body on all sides vehemently in a hope to get out of the ropes. She knew that she couldn’t come out those magical ropes. Yet she somehow wanted to escape the ropes to just kick him out of the world. She finally got tired and saddled back on the chair. Her heart throbbed in pain. She gritted her teeth with tears pouring down her cheeks.

Whalros at the same time let out a tremulous laugh that made Intelina froze in her chair. His laugh carried a you-can’t-escape-from-me tag.

Intelina was grieving for the loss of Anne. Being the queen of the ocean, she could do nothing to help the poor girl than to shed tears for Anne. She felt ashamed of herself. Now, her anger towards Whalros hiked and she stared at him with the threatening look along with tears gushing down.

“Why did you…do this? Why are you so….heartless?” she busted at Whalros in between her sobs. She felt a lump in her throat which sealed her mouth from uttering another word. But she had a lot more to ask him. She took a deep breath and shouted at him with full throat.

“Tell me bastard! You bitch! You fool! Can’t you be alive without hurting anyone? Such a……….”

Slap…

Intelina’s right side of the head banged right at the floor making her screen in pain. It took some minutes to recall what had happened. God! Her left cheek had turned red and flamed like fire. She had just realized that Whalros had hit her and as a result of his force she fell down on the floor along with the chair. She couldn’t tolerate the pain in her head. And thank god, she fainted.

Whalros was satisfied when he saw her lying collapsed on the floor. He toddled off the room leaving her as she was.

XXXXXXX

Once the scanning process in the Port Blair airport was over, Lara rushed to the lawyer, Srinivas, who was waiting for her arrival. The instant she saw the lawyer, she fastened towards him, dragging her bag along.

“Lara, how was your journey?”

“What about James? Have you got the permit to see him?” Lara didn’t like to beat around the bush. So she went straight to the topic about James.

“I am sorry Lara. You have to wait for one more day” said Srinivas in a gloomy tone. “But don’t worry. I promise that you will meet him for sure”.

Lara just bowed her head and nodded. She fluttered her eyelashes as fast as she could to hold her tears back. Both of them headed towards the car silently.

Prasanth and Bharat family were super excited to see Andaman. They took two taxis to reach the destination. Abi with her family boarded a taxi and Adhi’s family took a separate one. Before getting into the car, Abi checked with Adhi through the corner of her eye. He was busy arranging the luggage in the boot. Her lips unknowingly extended on seeing him. When Adhi closed the boot, a pang of warning rushed all over her body. She suddenly got on the car and slammed the door rapidly.

All through the way to the hotel, Abi and Diya enjoyed the Andaman city, having their heads out of the window. Diya was literally standing on her seat that Ahana had to grip her tightly by her waist.

“Is this the first time to Andaman sir?” asked the driver politely.

“I had been here before. But as a family trip, this is the first time” said Prasanth smiling at the driver.

“Fine sir…Here are lot many places to visit. You will have a great time for sure sir”

Prasanth smiled and nodded in approval.

“Uncle, Can we breathe under water? Because I am scared to step into it” Diya asked with a childish grin that made everyone laugh, including the driver.

“Yes, baby. You can breathe. That’s a beautiful world there. But I am afraid. You can’t enjoy it this time”

“What? Why? What happened?” series of questions came from everyone.

“A trainer was missing from today morning. There are rumors that whales are at the snorkeling site. So, snorkeling and scuba diving is restricted as of now.”

“God! Trainer missing! Did they go for a search?” Abinaya clamored in shock. She couldn’t believe what the driver had just said.

“Yes. The search operation is going on, but till now there is no news about her. The divers and the boatmen who accompanied her said that she was fighting to come up to the boat. They fear that there must be something (probably whales) pulling her inside”

Ahana and Abinaya gasped and looked at each other with their mouth wide open. Everyone was stunned to hear this breaking news.

“Please cancel all the beach programs. We should not go near the beach” said Saritha whose face had turned pale.

“Madam… No issues in getting into the beach. It is fully safe” assured the driver.

“No…Whales may…”

“Ma… Relax… Are you going to spend a week sleeping in the same room?”

“No. We can go somewhere else in Andaman”

Everyone laughed at her ignorance. “Ma…what else can we have in an Island other than beaches? Even if there is one, will that entertain us for a week?”

“___________”

Diya slowly turned to look at Saritha. Then she cupped her palms around Saritha’s face and said, “Don’t be scared granny. I will kill the whale and save you”

Saritha laughed instantly at her granddaughter’s vow. She made Diya sit in her lap and wrapped her arms around her. “Hmm… how will you kill the whale cutie?”

“Wait, I will show you,” said Diya and swung into action all of a sudden. She took her Barbie doll bag and began searching for something.

Everyone was curious to know what she was searching for.

Soon she took out a pocket knife and displayed it to everyone. The instant she took it out everyone started giggling.

“Are you going to kill the whale with this pocket knife?” asked Ahana with a mocking grin.

“Hmm…Yes, mummy.”

(Laughs and giggles)

“But Diya, How did you get this knife? Your mom gave you this?” enquired Saritha and waited for her reply. Abinaya felt a little uncomfortable.

“No…Abi only gave me this. If any boy tries to attack me, then I should defend myself right?” replied Diya looking at Abi for confirmation. Abi meekly smiled at Diya and rolled her eyes to check with Ahana and Saritha.

Everyone’s glance was now at Abi. Saritha and Ahana shook their head sideways not knowing what else to tell her.

There was an awkward silence that filled the car. Abi somehow enjoyed the silence and peeped out of the window again.

The cab halted in front of Peerless Resort. Everyone took their luggage out and escorted towards the resort. They had their rooms already booked. So they didn’t spend much time at the reception than to ask for the way to their room.

They were heading towards the elevator while talking to each other about the plans for that day. So neither Ahana nor Abinaya did notice Lara who had just disappeared in the elevator with Srinivas. Even Lara was busy talking to Srinivas about James and she too didn’t notice the familiar faces approaching the elevator.

Srinivas took Lara to the room, handed her the key and left. Lara slid the key to the hole and opened the door with no idea of what might follow.