Five Times – XXVIII

“How did you get the ring?” Whalros shouted at the top of his voice.

The smile from Intelina irritated him to the core. He was at a stage of counting his last minutes, yet he couldn’t leave his authority.

Unlike before, Whalros’ dominating tone didn’t affect or even shook Intelina. Because she was no longer the Intelina who was kidnapped by Whalros, rather she was the old Intelina, with full of powers.

The queen of ocean stood boldly before him, clutching the sword. Lara’s eyes parted in disbelief on seeing the queen because these things were apart from worldly beliefs.

All others looked at the awesome magic before their eyes in sheer awe, with their mouths fully open. No one had any idea, how the ring reached the queen.

Whalros lost his patience. “What the hell is going on?”

After observing Whalros for a good long time, Intelina opened her mouth to speak. “Cool down, Whalros. Don’t get tensed. It’s not good for health,” she said with utter sarcasm.

Whalros gritted his teeth and clenched his fist.

Intelina snatched away the sword and threw it far away from them. She then looked straight at Whalros and said, “Look at there,”

Whalros suddenly turned to the side Intelina wanted him to. All others too followed Intelina’s gaze. In that place was the little girl, Diya standing, with her childish smile. Along with her were Adhi’s mom and Abi’s mom.

“Diya…” Ahana and Abi shouted and everyone ran towards her.

Ahana hugged her daughter protectively. A great relief spread through her body. “How did you come here, baby? Are you okay?”

“Ma, I am okay. See, I said you right? There was another one who is the same as Lara aunty. She is the one,” she said without any seriousness.

Abi kissed her passionately. “You are really great, Diya. Love you so much dear,” said Abi.

Lara too escaped from that awful scene and reached James safely following Intelina’s instructions.

So, at last everyone was safe and happy. If they wished, they could have moved right away to their place. But they didn’t. They wanted to talk to Intelina. The girl, because of whom they have experienced as much fear, because of whom they forgot to eat, because of whom they were restless and finally because of whom they were alive.

Everyone stood at a safe distance from Intelina and Whalros, but could very well see what was happening.

Just a few feet before them was the whale, to which Whalros had given the ring been standing, with his whole body trembling badly.

Whalros understood everything. When the particular whale was busy searching for something to crush the ring, Diya took the ring and thrown it into the sea.

Intelina got back the ring and the lost powers. She was back at the right time as the queen of the ocean to save Lara.

Whalros gave the whale a death glare. He analyzed his state calmly. Soon, he understood that he could do nothing. All the dark magic
I learned won’t help me before this ring; long years of power and strength went to the dig; the dream of becoming the king of the ocean remains the dream forever.

He squeezed his eyes in disgust. Anger rose to his mind and he wanted to show his tantrums to someone.

He glanced at the whale that missed the ring. You are the sole reason for this. You need to be punished. You made me feel like a waste. Now, I am nothing. I won’t leave you.

That whale’s eyes were pleading to Whalros. Intelina watched all these incidents calmly.

Whalros wanted revenge for his failure. The humans present there, who were once the weaker section now became stronger. So he chose the weaker section, the whales and started moving towards the whale that failed him.

When there was an inch distance between Whalros and the whale, Whalros stopped and lowered his head. Suddenly, he opened his mouth that let his sharp and pointy teeth out. He wanted to tear the whale’s flesh and torture him fully. In that case, he could satisfy himself.

That whale begged Whalros to leave him, to pardon him. But Whalros was in no position to listen to his demand. Everyone was blazed on witnessing whale’s teeth and closed their eyes.

Suddenly Intelina appeared in front of Whalros and stopped him dead in his tracks. Her eyes were filled with disgust and anger.

“You don’t have any rights to touch the whale,” Intelina snapped at Whalros.

Whalros was confused but at the same time furious. “Why? Why are you protecting whales? Just leave me. I want to kill him,” he snapped back.

But, before Intelina’s powers, Whalros was nothing. He felt like Intelina’s puppet. Sense of shame rushed all through his body and he felt low. He couldn’t withstand the pain of being under the control of Intelina.

He looked at Intelina furiously. Intelina spoke. “These whales did many mistakes hearing your words. They surely need to be punished, but not by you. Also, I strongly believe that the leader of the group is fully responsible for any actions whether it is good or bad. These whales live under my control. They are the sea creatures and I have the responsibility to protect them. They will lead a good life with a good leader,”

Whalros’ eyes widened. After a pause, Intelina continued, “So, now, after all the bad things that happened to humans, it is you needed to be punished. You deserve to be killed,” A smirk emerged in Intelina’s lips.

For a second, Whalros was shocked, but then the same smirk caressed in Whalros’ lips too. Soon, the smirk turned out to be laughter.

He laughed for a few seconds and said, “You won. The girl I underestimated finally won. But I won’t give you the happiness of punishing me. I won’t let my pride fall. You can be the queen of the ocean. But my death is not in your hands,” he said and in a blink, Whalros sliced his throat and fell down lifeless.

Intelina looked at Whalros pathetically. She closed her eyes and thought of the snorkeling trainee, Anne, who lost her life in the hands of whales. She also thought of the fear everyone experienced on the ferry.

After a while, she opened her eyes, looked at Whalros again and said, “You really deserve it,”

Intelina then looked at the other whales. Everyone bowed their head and begged her pardon.

“Does anyone here in this group have the desire to become the king of the ocean?” Intelina sounded authoritative.

Silence filled the air.

Intelina continued. “If so, I am glad to give you the power,” she said and stopped.

Again there was no response except the shake of their heads indicating no.

“There is nothing wrong with dreaming. I am really happy to elect someone of you to be the king. But be a good king. Just don’t be like your former leader Whalros,”

“Sorry, queen,” a small chorus voice came traveling in the air to Intelina’s ears.

Intelina closed her eyes and took a deep breath. When she opened her eyes, she saw the whales as different creatures, begging for life.

She smiled at them and said, “Be caring and share the love to every creature in this world, to animals, to humans, and to everyone. Then, you are the king,”

Intelina stood calmly analyzing the whales. They too smiled and nodded positively.

Everything ended happily, Intelina thought.

Finally, it was time to meet the whole family who helped Intelina. Intelina turned to look at everyone, standing in a distance. They were hesitant about whether to approach her or not. After all, she is the queen, right? Power matters.

Intelina, without thinking twice started walking towards them, leaving all of them astonished.

Intelina fastened her walk towards them and as soon as she neared them, she lifted Diya and gave her a heartfelt hug. Her eyes welled up and so was all others’.

“You are such a lovely kid, my dear. You made my day,” Intelina said between her sobs.

“If you haven’t thrown the ring, the exact opposite would have happened. I couldn’t even imagine that,” she said to which Diya smiled.

After a while, Intelina glanced at everyone and said, “I am really sorry for all of you. I know that every one of you had gone through the hell. I am the reason for all your sorrows. I am really sorry,” her voice broke.

Adhi instantly stopped Intelina and said, “No need to be sorry. We actually wanted to thank you for everything. Without you, we all would be dead,”

Intelina smiled and replied, “For that, you should thank this little girl,”

Intelina then turned towards Lara, who was still baffled. Lara couldn’t digest the similarity between her and the queen of the ocean. Her throats were dry in shock and she could not utter a word.

A lovely smile escaped Intelina’s lips. Lara saw her without blinking. They both didn’t exchange any words. They just smiled for a while admiring each other. They looked at each other like they were looking themselves newly.

Lara observed Intelina’s eyes, nose, lips, ears, and everything and was amazed to see a mirror image in front of her eyes, with not even a single difference, except for the dress.

Same is the case with Intelina. She analyzed Lara from head to toe and felt like something magical. Finally, they hugged emotionally, with tears rolling down their eyes.

For all others, Intelina is a magic. But to her, Lara seemed as a magic. After a while Intelina spoke.

“I saw you when you were standing there on the beach to throw the ring. You really decided to throw. Thanks for that,” Intelina said.

“No more thanks, please. This ring actually saved as everyone at many times. Everything happened as we wanted to be. Just leave everything and be happy,” said Lara.

After a while of chatting and taking snaps, Intelina bid everyone goodbye and with tear-filled eyes and a heavy heart. She returned to the ocean to resume her work as the queen of the ocean. All others started to Chennai the day itself. All their enjoyments in Andaman flashed out. Only, Intelina stood in their hearts. They carried with themselves a totally different, incredible memory from Andaman.

To be continued…

Advertisements

Five Times – XXVII

Early morning – 4th day

Early morning, even before Lara could open her eyes; Abi’s mom and Adhi’s mom were still in the seashell resort along with Diya not knowing anything that’s happening in Lara’s place. They both had a very tough time convincing Diya who kept on asking about Ahana and Abi.

“Baby, your mom will come soon,” said Abi’s mom.

“You said the same thing yesterday night. You said mom will be here to sleep with me. But, I slept without my mom. Not only my mom, no one is here except you two,” Diya’s eyes welled up in anger.

“Please don’t cry, my dear. They will come soon. Hmm… shall we play something, Diya?”

“NO!” Diya snapped back at both of them and started crying vigorously.

“Take me to my mummy now,” she said and sobbed continuously.

Saritha, Abi’s mom looked pathetically at Adhi’s mom. She shook her head and said, “Adhi’s mobile couldn’t be reached and his dad’s number was switched off,”

“Did you try to reach Abi and Ahana?” asked Saritha more worried. Don’t try my husband’s number. He left the mobile here itself in the hurry.

“Hmm… I already tried to contact Abi and Ahana, but they are not attending the call,” Adhi’s mom started to panic.

“I am getting afraid. Everyone will be safe right?” asked Saritha.

“I hope so. Yesterday, Adhi called me and said that got Lara and also said they won’t be returning here at night.”

“Everything seemed normal when he talked to me yesterday. But now I am afraid,” said Adhi’s mom and sat with head hung low.

Diya too was crying at one end and couldn’t be convinced at ease.

“What to do now?” asked Saritha.

Adhi’s mom though for a while and said, “Shall we go to Lara’s place,”

Saritha was shocked at first, but then she understood that they had no other way.

“We are sure that they are in Lara’s place. We should go there now,” said Adhi’s mom.

“Yes! Come let’s go there now. I want to see my mom,” Diya was too adamant in her decision.

“Hmm… okay,” said Saritha and all the three of them started getting ready.

Soon, they booked a taxi with the help of the receptionist and moved towards Dolphin resort.

After half an hour drive, all three of them were standing in the reception of Dolphin resort.

Saritha went straight to the receptionist and asked, “Whether Lara and James staying here?”

The receptionist looked at all three of them up and down and gave them a confused look.

What’s there with Lara and James? Thought the receptionist.

“Madam?” Saritha again called her.

“Hmm…. Yeah! They are staying here. But now…” she stopped.

“What now?” asked Adhi’s mom.

“Now they are not in the room. They just went outside. I hope they went to the beach nearby,”

“Saritha was irritated and she looked at Diya,”

Adhi’s mom calmly asked Diya, “Don’t worry. Mom is nearby. Shall we wait here till they return, my dear?”

“No! I want to see my mom now,” Diya was stubborn.

Abi’s mom and Adhi’s mom exchanged frustrated glances and exhaled a deep sigh.

Then, Adhi’s mom looked at the receptionist and asked, “Which way to go to the beach?”

“This way,” she directed them.

“Thanks” Saritha replied and moved towards the beach without knowing what danger lies ahead.

XXXXX

After Whalros left, Intelina had no meaning being there in the room. She was confused to the core.

He sensed the truth. Why should I still be here?

As the ropes freed her, she stood up and started walking towards the door, but stopped abruptly.

What if I am wrong? Whether Whalros knew that the ropes were not protecting me? What if he still didn’t find that out?

Did he really see Lara or is he testing me? No…no… He was so confident when he told me about the ring and Lara. I am sure he saw her.

After battling for a brief moment, she made a decision. No matter what, I should be out of here to protect Lara because Whalros might do anything to her.

Intelina quickened her steps towards the exit and reached the sea. She swam through the beach as fast as she could and stopped right in her tracks when she spotted Lara.

Intelina furrowed her brows and looked deep through the waters. Lara was talking to the ring and crying.

Wow! Lara is here with my ring. I think she is going to throw it. The little girl really did a good job.

“The moment the ring touches the water, I will get all my powers back. Whalros… your end is nearing,” Intelina said to herself and looked at Lara again.

Suddenly her eyes widened. No!!! Don’t throw the ring. No!!!

Intelina saw Whalros standing behind Lara and no one including Lara noticed him. The past incident rushed to her Intelina’s mind.

That morning, on the beach, Whalros came behind Intelina, bumped to her, trapped her, took the ring and threw it away.

It should not happen again. Lara! Please turn around and see. Don’t throw the ring.

But, luck again failed her. Lara swayed her hand above to throw the ring into the sea but she was stopped.

Whalros grabbed Lara’s wrist tightly and took the ring from her hands.

A loud scream from Lara stunned everyone. All of them stood motionless on witnessing Whalros holding the ring. Throats went dry and sounds didn’t escape their mouth.

All of them stood there clasping each other’s hands. Lara was trying to snatch her hand away from Whalros but she failed every time she tried. They were encountering something anonymously.

Everything is finished. He won. Intelina’s lost hope faded. She broke down and she could do nothing than to shout back at God for failing her. She cupped her face and howled.

Whalros took the ring and dragged Lara by her arm.

“Hey! Leave me!” Lara somehow got some courage to shout back but Whalros didn’t care to listen to her.

He dragged her for a few distances and pushed her in the sand. All others tried to follow Lara but were stopped by whales.

Lara fell in the sand with fear rushing all through the blood. She looked bewildered at Whalros. The strange sight of Whalros itself made her lose her cool.

Whalros took his time to analyze the ring. A small smirk escaped his mouth. He then handed the ring to one of the whales.

“Keep this ring safe. More importantly, don’t throw the ring. I don’t want to repeat the same mistake,” Whalros said.

“Okay, king. Then what to do?” asked the other whale.

Whalros thought for a while and said, “Destroy it now,” And then Whalros turned towards Lara again.

“You really made me tired. But, don’t worry. Everything ends today,” Whalros said to Lara with a suspicious smile and took out his sword. 

Meantime, the whale pressed the ring hard in his hands to crush it. But the ring couldn’t be crushed. Only then, the whale understood that the ring was special and can’t be crushed with bare hands.

So, he placed the ring in the rock and searched for a stone to destroy the ring.

Everyone screamed in fear at Whalros. “Please leave us. We won’t disturb you,” James was begging to Whalros.

“Don’t kill me. Please,” Lara’s voice broke and staggered.

Whalros didn’t even care about their feelings and swayed the sword towards Lara.

When his sword was about to slice Lara’s neck, it stopped in mid-air. Whalros tried to push forward but he felt his power failing him.

He furiously turned around to look at the disturbance but was taken aback at the sight.

Intelina was clutching the sword glaring at Whalros; her eyes were red with anger. On her right hand was that shining green ring glowing brightly.

Whalros’ eyes parted in disbelief. “How did you get the ring?” Whalros shouted in frustration.

The reply was a cute smile from Intelina.

Five Times – XXVI

James and Lara reached the reception and stopped dead in tracks. The moment Adhi saw Lara at the reception along with James, he couldn’t believe his eyes and he was completely shocked.

Not only Adhi was shocked, but everyone was amazed at seeing Lara there. They hoped for James to return to them and give the ring back but seeing Lara, who was sick the previous night, bought confusions to everyone.

No one knew where and how to start the conversation. Regaining the composure and setting the confusion aside, Abi asked, “How are you now, Lara?”

Lara shot up at once at Abi and returned a pleasant smile. “I am fine. Thanks, Abi,” she said in a calm tone.

Her composed tone itself affirmed everyone that Lara was fine. Adhi felt happy for Lara, but at the same time, he was scared.

Whether Lara will return the ring or will she fight for the ring? Adhi was puzzled.

Lara too was puzzled. Should I explain the conversation between me and James about the ring or should I have to jump directly to the point?

Soon, Lara made a decision and she didn’t want to waste any time. She looked at James for support and he readily gave it by nodding his head.

Lara then cleared her throat and said, “I know why every one of you is here. Come, let’s go, and throw the ring in the sea,”

Everyone gasped like they couldn’t believe their ears. They exchanged relieved glances and felt like winners.

Adhi gazed at James for confirmation and he smiled affirmatively and said, “I am sorry for yesterday, because…”

Even before he could finish, Adhi stopped him and said, “No need to feel sorry. At least you agreed now. Thanks, James,”

“He was too much worried about me. When I woke up normally, he too became normal. And then, when I told him to understand the importance of throwing this ring, he readily admitted his mistake,” explained Lara.

“Hmm… I can understand Lara. That’s okay,” said Adhi.

“Okay fine. Now, let’s quickly start the next step. The faster we act, we can save as many lives,” said Abi’s dad.

“Yeah… you are right, uncle,” said Adhi. “Let’s go to the beach,”

The next instant, everyone started.

XXXXXX

Intelina sat in the room sadly, disappointed for not getting her ring till this time. She was free totally but she felt empty without the ring.

She could have escaped from Whalros place the moment she was free. She didn’t have to come back to the same prison after meeting Diya at the beach. But she didn’t want to take so much risk. She thought of the consequences that will follow her escape.

I have no ring and so no power. If I escape from this place, Whalros will find it soon and will come in search of me. Apart from that, it will create unnecessary doubts to Whalros like, how did I manage to escape… what about the ropes…

Intelina inhaled and exhaled a long breath. She was tired of thinking about this, yet he couldn’t stop.

Even if he couldn’t track me, he will become aware that, something is helping me to get out of the magical ropes. He will then become cautious and start planning something more vicious. No…No… I can’t allow him to think like that.

But she was desperate to get the ring back. “Did that little girl conveyed my message?” She asked to herself.

Suddenly all roped tied back to her and she sat straight awaiting Whalros’ presence. Her breath quickened and she consoled herself to control her feelings.

Whalros shouldn’t get even a small clue from my uneasiness, Intelina thought.

The high thud sounds came as a warning that said Whalros was coming tensed. The next moment he appeared in front of Intelina with a hard face.

Intelina pretended to be afraid of his sight and widened her eyes. Whalros didn’t speak a word; instead, he analyzed Intelina as he did always.

Her ring is with another one who shares the same face as her. It even touched water many times because of the foolish acts of some whales. But, it made no difference to the queen of the ocean. She was still under my control. How is that possible?

Intelina tried to capture Whalros’ serious thoughts. Why is he looking at me like this? I hate to the core being watched like an anonymous thing.

Whalros was trying to get some clue from her. He stared at Intelina’s eyes constantly. She managed to look directly at him without fear. She too glared back at him furiously, but not for too long. She averted her gaze not wanting to show him that she was nervous.

Whalros, at the same time, wanted to move smart so as to get things as much as possible from Intelina. He already sensed something fishy.

He waited for a while and said, “I got your ring,”

“What?” Intelina shouted back at Whalros. He clearly touched her nerve.

“Yes! I got your ring,” He said, this time with more confidence.

Intelina’s breath grew heavier. She felt like fainting. She couldn’t even guess whether he is telling the truth or not. Her last hope drained all of a sudden.

“No… you are lying. I don’t believe you,” she said in between her breaths.

“How do you know that I am lying? Who said to you?” Whalros asked, tension filling his whole body.

“No one said to me anything. How could anyone get to me? But I believe that you are lying. It’s my instinct that tells me you are a liar,” she snapped at Whalros.

Whalros was a little bit satisfied with this answer that Intelina was under his control and no one even tried to help her.

“Your instinct is right. I didn’t get the ring. But I know where the ring is,” he said and paused.

Intelina was startled to hear this.

“A little girl has that ring now, which is of no use,” Whalros lied and noticed Intelina’s shocking reaction.

“What? The ring is with the little girl?” She sounded shocked.

“Yes…” he sounded high.

“No… You are lying again,” she said. Whalros noticed a ray of confidence in Intelina’s eyes when she told this. After all, he waited for this to happen.

“I saw it with my eyes. It is in the little girl’s fingers,” he increased the pressure.

“I won’t believe,” she was stubborn.

“I don’t want you to believe me. I saw it,” said Whalros.

“No… I am sure the ring is not with the little girl,” she snapped. Whalros noticed her stern nature and a light smirk crossed his lips.

Intelina didn’t fail to notice his smirk. It was only after that she realized that she was too confident and had given him a place for doubt.

She cursed herself for her carelessness. He made a complete fool of me. Intelina rolled her eyeballs in all directions without knowing what to do.

Soon, she managed herself and said, “First, you told me that you got the ring. Now you are telling that the ring is with some little girl,” she paused.

“How can I believe this?” she sounded. But she lost the confidence and boldness she had at first. Her voice shook and showed Whalros that she was nervous.

She did every possible thing to be cool and make him believe that she was still under his ropes. But a slight doubt started blooming in Whalros’ heart.

 “Also, I know where the ring is. It is with a girl who looks like you,” he said and noticed Intelina’s reaction.

She went speechless. He even saw her. What will he do now? Will that girl throw the ring in the sea?

Tears rolled down her cheeks unknowingly. She cursed her luck for failing her at the last hour.

“I know something is wrong. But I couldn’t find what that is. I will find it soon,” Whalros warned Intelina and left the place in a hurry.

Everyone reached the beach and walked towards the sea like there was no tomorrow. Their legs pained but no one cared.

XXXXXX

Everyone reached the sea and stood glancing at Lara. She took her hand, looked fondly at the ring, caressed it and kissed it slowly.

“You really helped me a lot. I won’t forget you anytime. I miss you,” Lara said to the ring.

 If it as some other time, all others could have laughed at Lara for talking to a ring. But now, everyone knew about the situation and also about the ring. Everyone missed the ring.

Lara loosened the ring and took it in her hands. She looked at it painfully and glanced at everyone.

“Throw it, Lara,” said James calmly.

Lara remembered the moment James put this same ring on her fingers. Her eyes moistened.

Brushing the past memories away, with a heavy heart, Lara swayed her right hand that clasped the ring to throw it into the sea.

The moment she swayed her hand, her wrist was grabbed by something hard and she couldn’t take her hands back.

Lara shockingly turned the other side only to be taken aback. A loud scream escaped her mouth followed by others scream too.

Whalros was standing there grabbing Lara’s wrist with one hand. He smilingly took the ring with another hand and left Lara.

All the seven of them stood there bewildered on watching Whalros. Everyone panicked and started screaming. Help… help…. They shouted, but nothing helped.

Whalros let out a thunderous laugh that shook them totally.  

Five Times – XXV

“What do you mean by you can’t give the ring?” Adhi was scared by James’ words.

“That means I am not interested in giving it. Simple,” said James and scoffed.

Abi and Ahana were shocked at his strange behavior. Everyone fell silent not wanting to talk to James.

After a few seconds, Abi sounded low. “Why are you behaving like this, James? You were different a few hours back and now you behave totally different,”

James understood very well what Abi meant. Yes! I was begging them to find Lara and now I am shouting back at them.

James closed his eyes and took a deep breath. A long sigh escaped his mouth. He then saw all the others present in the hall for one more time and started to talk. This time his voice was calm and composed.

“I am really sorry. Every one of you helped me to find Lara, but am really sorry for my sudden reactions,” James said and he really meant it. His eyes were filled with guilt.

Adhi’s dad and Abi’s dad exchanged glances. Adhi then sat near James on the sofa to comfort him.

“That’s not a problem. We can understand.” Adhi said.

“Thanks, Adhi. But, please don’t ask me for the ring. Please, I can’t give it,” James again continued with his same reply.

“I couldn’t get you, James. Why do you need this ring? You know very well that the ring is not yours. Also, this is…”

“Please Adhi. I need no explanations. I am doing this only for Lara’s safety,”

“Lara’s safety?” Ahana sounded curious.

“Yes! Lara went missing from the evening and she was spotted right in the sea. We all saw it right? Lara was safe till we find her only because the ring was with her,”

Everyone knew this reason but they didn’t think that this would affect James’ decision.

James continued. “If the ring was not with her, I could have lost Lara forever. I can’t even imagine that.” His eyes welled up.

Adhi pressed James’ shoulders in comfort and said, “We know James. The ring saved Lara. But, I need you to think about others too,”

“Fine… you all can stay here, away from the whales. We all can stay safe here,” He said.

Adhi got tensed. He felt his anger rise to the peak. He shouted back at James.

“Are you crazy? Do you at least have any idea that you are talking stupid?” Adhi’s words startled James. It even shocked Abi and Ahana.

“Adhi, please control your anger,” Abi found some courage to advise Adhi.

James looked at the changing environment and asked, “Why are you shouting like this? James snapped back.

“The reason is you, James. If the ring is with Lara, we are safe and you are right. But, the whales may attack some other kayaking couples, if not you; it may frighten another ferry in which there are more innocent people like us,”

Adhi paused for a second and said, “Everyone doesn’t have a magical ring to save themselves. Can’t you think about these things?” 

James felt ashamed at his acts. Yet, he was still worried about Lara’s safety.

Abi somehow got the words to talk to James, “You are talking about Lara’s safety alone. But, in this ring lies everyone’s safety. Think of that,”

James at once shouted back at everyone. “Can you please stop advising me? Do you all think that I don’t know anything?”

Everyone fell silent. James tried to talk again but tears rolled down his eyes. He was equally worried about shouting back at everyone who supported him in the hour of need.

Adhi didn’t know what to do. To talk to James or to console him or to snatch the ring away from Lara?

Adhi clearly didn’t know and everyone’s mind went blank. 

“Adhi,” James called him with his voice breaking.

“Tell me, James,” Adhi said,”

“I am sorry. I know I am selfish. But I can’t give the ring because; I am not sure about the queen of the ocean. How can I just believe in something that sounds superstitious?”

Adhi let out a smirk on hearing James’ words. James continued.

“I agree that I saw strange whales. It’s unbelievable. But I can’t help the idea of the queen of the ocean, her ring having powers, the same face as…”

Adhi cut him in the middle and asked, “So, you don’t believe this?”

James simply nodded.

Again Adhi smirked and said, “You don’t believe anything, but all you need is this ring which according to you has no powers. Am I right?” asked Adhi pointing to Lara’s finger.

James stood bewildered at Adhi’s question. He had no logical reply to give him.

“And, you believe that this ring saved Lara, but you don’t believe that there is a queen in the underwater world,” Adhi again stuck James with his question.

“What do you think of us, James? Are we looking like sorcerers, who keep on doing magical things? We are simply humans, just like you. Even we found it hard to believe these things at first. But all things really came into place. Everything made sense. Sometimes, we need to think out of our world for everyone’s safety,” Adhi finished his brief advice and started to exit the room, but stopped midway.

He then turned towards James and said, “You are very much disturbed. Take your time and decide positively. We will wait in the reception,” said Adhi and stormed out of the room.

“We won’t move from here without the ring,” said Ahana sternly and everyone followed walked towards the reception.

James sat silently beside Lara with his heads down. Time went on. The sun made its way into the sky blocking the moon.

Adhi with everyone was still in the reception, hopefully waiting for the good to happen. They hadn’t even blinked the entire night. Same is the case with James.

James jolted when he saw Lara getting back from sleep.

Lara woke up. Her face was devoid of any tension and she looked fresh and new.

As soon as Lara woke up, she looked around the room and spotted James looking back at her with a smiling face. She too smiled at him. It was only after a few minutes she recalled the bits and pieces of the previous night.

Beach… Sea… Ring… Shouting… Ahana…

Lara closed her eyes and tried to remember everything. When she opened her eyes, everything was crystal clear.

She looked at James with tear-soaked eyes and said, “I am sorry, James. I was…”

“No need to think about that, Lara. Are you okay now?” asked James caressing her head.

Lara nodded. “James, what happened after I fainted? Where are Adhi, Abi, Ahana, and others?”

James narrated everything that happened in the room, starting from the sedative given to Lara until the fight between him and Adhi.

James expected Lara to shout back at him for not giving the ring to Adhi.

Lara looked at her ring and touched it fondly. Then she looked at James and said, “You did the right thing and I don’t blame you, James. I understand your love for me. You just tried to protect me and so you did what you think is right.”

James was shocked at his wife’s words.

“The mistake is mine, James. I made you go through hell and because of that, you behaved differently yesterday,”

James was still spellbound.

“Can you do me a favor, James?” asked Lara.

“Sure,” James said.

“I am totally fine and safe now. We need to think of other’s safety too, James. So, shall we throw this ring back into the sea?” asked Lara and looked at James pleadingly.

James had half expected this and was not so shocked by Lara’s request. He was totally happy as he got his wife back normally. James smiled big and nodded approvingly.

Soon, both started towards the reception.

Five Times – XXIV

James came running to the spot where Lara was. “Lara……” James called out a little louder the second time. Even then, she stood motionless.

Some unknown fear clutched to everyone’s heart the moment they spotted Lara in that darkness. Abi felt an uncomfortable churning sensation in her stomach. Everyone’s heart raced.

The waves were pushing them back but they were moving forward towards Lara, clasping each other’s hands tightly.

If it was some other day, the slashing waves and the cool breeze could have bought the eternal peace to everyone. But now, they were far away from thinking about peace.

They were there at the beach, in the dark, risking their lives, to protect Lara. Protect Lara from Whales.

She was now five feet away from James. He stepped forward when Abi hushed to stop him.

“What now?” James asked in a hushed tone like they were talking in a library.

“Am hearing some sound,” said Abi mostly in sign language. The next second Ahana too agreed to Abi and nodded her head affirmatively, at the same time cautious enough to not let out a sound.

Only then all other keenly observed the sound. First, it felt like some unnecessary sound. But then, it turned out to be moaning.

Was Lara crying? Thought James.

Without wasting another second, James and Adhi moved forward.

Come on… come and kill me now… I can’t take it anymore. Come right now and take my life. Please… Lara was sobbing to herself.

She was repeating the same thing again and again and tried to move a little forward towards the sea. Instantly Adhi and James ran towards Lara, grabbed her hand and tried to pull her out of water.

“Leave me,” Lara snapped even without turning her head. “I want to die now. Leave me,” Lara shouted and jerked out of their control.

Adhi and James’ grip was too strong on Lara that she couldn’t compete. Finally, she gave up. Both of them dragged Lara out of the sea. All the way she was crying and cursing her fate.

“Why did you come here? I could have died now. My pain would have gone. Please leave me. I have to die,” Lara sobbed uncontrollably.

James, Abi, and Ahana tried a lot to control her. James hugged her sideways and cupped her face to console her.

“Lara, please don’t cry baby. I am here for you,” He too sobbed. 

Seconds passed on. Being in the water for long made Lara sick and because of continuous weeping, she lost all her energy. As a result, she fainted in James’ shoulders.

“Lara….Lara… what happened?” James panicked, so was the others and looked at Adhi.

“Nothing James, except Lara was scared. Long hours of good sleep will help her get back to normal,” Adhi said in a calm tone.

James looked at Adhi confused and wanted to ask more. But Adhi’s dad interrupted.

“First, let’s get back to the room and do her first aid,”

Everyone accepted the suggestion and departed hiring a taxi. All the way to the room, Lara still mumbled about whales, the attack she had witnessed, and much more.


Inside the room, Lara was peacefully sleeping with the help of sedative. James couldn’t tolerate seeing his wife like this.

With his hands covering his face, James sat with head hung low. She came to Andaman only for me but, I gave her just pain, immense pain.

“Tomorrow, she will be okay, James,” said Adhi tapping on his shoulder.

James looked up, meeting Adhi’s eyes and asked, “Why did Lara behave like that? Like going out uninformed, crying to herself, getting inside the sea, etc, etc,”

“As I said, she was scared and she is still scared,” Adhi replied.

“Adhi, I can’t understand. Even I am scared about this Whale attack. Everyone is scared. But why is Lara going through the hell?” James’s tone broke.

The moment James talked about the whales; the main thing did strike Abi. She gazed at the shining green ring fixed in Lara’s finger.

In the chaos of searching Lara, everyone forgot about the ring. Shit…I could have thrown it in the sea there itself if it occurred to my mind. Abi wanted to tell Adhi about the ring right now, but Adhi didn’t give a break.

“I agree. All are scared. But we didn’t see anything for real. We just happened to hear about whales. But it’s different in your case. You saw the whales, eye to eye and that made Lara weak,”

Imagination is different from reality, thought James.

After a pause, Adhi continued, “Everyone doesn’t have the courage to face the truth and Lara is one among them. Whales having a human head, and its attack, everything was beyond imagination in this 20th century and that made her very fragile.”

James listened to everything and asked, “If she sleeps for long, will she be fine? Or will she again try to kill herself?”

“Sleep will control the situation as of now. But for the permanent solution, we need to get rid of these whales forever,”

Abi, till now who was silent, intruded. “Adhi, in search of Lara, we totally forgot her ring. If we had thrown the ring back in the sea there itself, the problem would have been over by now. But it was late,”

Adhi, Ahana, James, and others at once looked at the ring that was shining brightly. Adhi thought for a while and cursed himself for failing to remember the most important thing.

After thinking for a while, Adhi said, “That’s okay, Abi. We can do that now,” He said and looked at James.

“Do what?” James questioned.

“James, I told you everything right? About the queen and her ring…the attack of whales, mystery behind the ring, etc. So, the only solution to this issue is this ring. We need to throw it back into the sea,” Adhi answered.

“What will happen next?” James asked.

Adhi hesitated for a while. Actually, he didn’t know what will happen after that. He recalled Diya’s words. “We are in danger. The queen will protect us and she needs the ring for that,”

“Once we throw the ring into the sea, I hope the queen may get it and protect us,” his answer sounded stupid even to himself. But he had no other way.

After a long silence, James said, “Sorry Adhi, I can’t give you the ring,”

“What?” Everyone shouted promptly at James giving him a death look.

Five Times – XXIII

Abi and Ahana jerked up from their bed on hearing a thunderous knock on the room door. The knock was followed by Adhi’s panicked voice.

“Ahana, it’s urgent. Please open the door,” Adhi was screaming with all his energy. He was worried when his calls to Ahana and Abi failed him and was more worried the every second the door opening was delayed.

It was not more than a couple of seconds; Ahana swung the door open and let Adhi in. Abi looked horrified so was the other two. Behind Adhi were his dad and Abi’s dad standing with a terrified look.

Adhi jumped straight into the point. “Lara is missing. James just informed me. He wants every one of us there with him so that he could feel less weak,” Adhi blurted everything and without delaying a second he stormed out.

Everyone followed Adhi. Though they were confused on the things that were taking place, no one dared to put up any cross questions.

Where would Lara possibly go? Where are we heading now? And why? Where will we search for Lara? If James doesn’t know where his wife is, then how could we? Apart from this, why would James need us for his wife’s sudden disappearance?

So many thoughts fluctuated in Ahana’s mind. She had no idea that Adhi had told James every mystery he knew and that made James nervous about Lara.

On the other hand, Abi was really bothered about Lara. What if she had thrown the ring somewhere in the land? What if she was attacked by the whales again? What if the so-called queen had permanently missed her ring?

Abi was really surprised by her thoughts. Am I really into the magical world? She half-heartedly believed it to be a nightmare and wished someone would wake her up and ask her what dream she had.

But she knew she was crazy because she knew everything that’s happening before her eyes were real.

XXXXXX

As soon as the receptionist showed the way, James’ legs unknowingly started to take up the pace. He didn’t know where to go. He didn’t even have any clue of where Lara went.

James cursed himself for being so careless on Lara. The receptionist said that it was more than half an hour she saw Lara moving out. These words pierced James’ heart and he burst out.

His mind was totally blank and he couldn’t even think. Only thoughts that flooded his mind was about Lara and the ring. He wished Lara could have waited. He wished Lara had heard the mystery behind the ring that he had known from Adhi. He wished Lara shouldn’t have thrown the ring somewhere on the land. He wished that Lara had at least taken her mobile with her.

As long as the ring is with Lara, she is safe. James thought. He was still following the path his legs took him, his body trembling with fear whenever he thought about the safety of Lara.

Only after he felt a throbbing pain in his legs he stopped dead in his tracks. It was only after that he noticed that the path was never ending and he had made a fool of himself by wasting this much time. Even then it couldn’t strike where Lara could have been to.

He wanted to get some help and dialed to Adhi. It was Adhi, who gave him some hope.

“What? You want me to search Lara at the beach?” asked James out of curiosity.

“Exactly, Hurry up, James,”

“But Adhi, I think it’s a waste of time. She was already afraid of thinking of the tragedies that took place. I am sure she won’t dare to look at the beach,” James said with overflowing confidence.

“No James, your reasoning is right but the answer is wrong. She must be on the beach,”

“How could you say that?” James clearly knew that he was out of time, yet he desperately wanted to know how Adhi was sure of that.

“James, listen. I agree that she was afraid of the attack and she was tired after the meeting with Diya. You said that she had already taken pills to sleep. Putting everything in place, I guess her fear had gotten into her mind, to the extreme levels. Simply, Lara was vexed thinking about whales for two long days. She must have realized that fear of suffering is worse than the fear itself,” Adhi said and stopped.

There was a silence for a few seconds. James tried to get everything into his mind that Adhi was explaining. After a while, James’ voice sounded weary. “So?”

James didn’t want Lara to be at the beach.

“So, Lara might have decided to face it, she might have headed to the beach,”

Why didn’t it strike me? Am I that much stupid? Or was it that emotion took over me and blocked my senses?

“James?” Adhi’s voice bought James back to the present.

“Okay Adhi, I will check,” The call ended.

That evening, it was getting late and the sky started to darken. James ran to the nearby beach. He strode into it and looked all around him hoping to spot Lara but he failed. He walked still more miles to trace his wife but everything was in vain.

He went mad and wanted to jump into the sea and be lost forever. No emotions. No problems.

Just then, crushing his thoughts Adhi, with all other’s treaded into the beach and neared James. The moment James saw Adhi and everyone, he broke down. His face told everything.

Adhi consoled him and said they would better split up to two and search. Adhi, Abi, and Ahana went one side and the other three went the opposite side. It was Abi’s decision to accompany Adhi than James whom she didn’t know and it was Ahana’s decision to accompany her sister.

Another half an hour ran out and there was no improvement. Soon the place became dark that the nearby person was barely visible.

James started to throw tantrums at Adhi in his mind. I told him Lara won’t be here.

Everyone had their mobile torch on so that they could resume their search. Hope started to drain out of James and so everyone, except Adhi. He still believed Lara was there at the beach.

The green trees all the way along the seashore scared them to death that night because they are not sure what might get into their feet. Adhi took his steps carefully keeping his mobile as high as he could to get as much view as possible.

There was a deafening silence that alarmed Abi and Ahana. Abi walked so close to Adhi that their shoulders brushed but Abi didn’t give a shit about that. Situations change minds.

The ring of Adhi’s phone pierced the silence that jolted everyone. It was James.

“James, did you find her?” Adhi asked with high hope.

The answer was negative. James sounded low. “Shall we go to the police? It’s already late by now,”

Adhi sensed the pain in James’ voice and felt sorry for him. Adhi too was convinced to file a missing case to the police. Adhi decided the next step.

“Okay James. We can go to the……”

Adhi was startled when Abi screamed and let her phone hit the ground. For a moment he believed that Abi might have seen a ghost. Ahana and Adhi took some time to get to their sense.

“What happened Abi? Are you alright?” Adhi was tensed.

Abi’s widened eyes were fixed at one point. Adhi followed her gaze to the place but that was dark.

Adhi wondered what on earth Abi saw there! He then lifted the light to the same place where Abi’s eyes were fixed. Abi squeezed her eyes shut. The moment the light flashed on that spot, Adhi was taken aback for a moment.

After a few seconds, he regained himself. He realized that James was still in line horrified by the scream.

With a little hesitation, Adhi asked James, “What color dress did Lara wear today?”

“What? The dress color… it was… w..white,” James stammered.

Adhi sighed aloud in relief. “James, don’t worry. We found Lara,” said Adhi and nodded at Abi and Ahana approvingly.

Lara was there, in the white dress, standing in the beach, dangerously near the waves. No, No, not near the waves, but standing inside the waves till her knees full of water.

“Lara…” Adhi called out, his voice sounding in low decibel.

No response.

He then cleared his throat and raised his voice, “Lara…”

Lara stood there in the waves motionless.

Five Times – XXII

After finishing the group discussion in Adhi’s room, everyone departed to their separate room to rest. Though everyone’s heart was filled with fear, their tired mind and body wanted to rest sometime.

Ahana, Abi, and Diya shared a separate room and soon all fell asleep unknowingly. The clock ticked and the time went on. Ahana was the first one to get up from the bed followed by Abi.

Ahana sat in front of the mirror to set her hair after the short nap. Abi came after refreshing herself and sat in the bed in which Abi’s reflection is on the mirror behind Ahana.

The first thing Abi did was, check her mobile for the updates from Adhi about James and Lara. But there was nothing and felt a little disappointed.

A sudden thought rushed into Ahana’s mind while watching Abi through the mirror. Ahana’s hands stood midway in her hair observing Abi thoughtfully.

A few seconds passed. After that Ahana swung into action like there is no tomorrow. She set aside the comb and tied her hair in a messy bun. She closed the drawer under the mirror and moved quickly towards Abi.

Ahana sat exactly opposite to Abi in the bed and stared straight at her. Abi seemed to have sensed Ahana’s piercing look and as a result of it, Abi doubtfully raised her eyelashes to meet Ahana’s eyes.

Some streaks of lines appeared on both of their foreheads but for various reasons. Both were fighting a silent war with their mind.

Shall I ask her about that or not, thought Ahana.

Why Ahana is looking at me like this, thought Abi.

Abi was the first one to escape the battle and she spoke after relaxing herself.

“Ahana, is there anything weird in my face?” Abi’s voice came confused.

A smile lighted instantly on Ahana’s face on hearing her sister’s naughtiness. She smirked and said, “No Abi. There is nothing weird. But there is something new,”

The eyebrows promptly gathered to the center indicating the uncertainty of Ahana’s words.

“May I know what’s new?” asked Abi.

The answer to Abi’s question couldn’t be given directly by Ahana. So she hesitated a little and asked, “Shall I ask you one thing?”

Abi was not only surprised but was also hurt by Ahana’s words. Till that day Abi gave Ahana her full rights to question her. But today Ahana’s hesitation sounded too strange to her.

Abi’s sadness was evident in her voice. “Ahana, you can ask me anything. There is no need to hesitate like this,”

Even though Ahana was satisfied by Abi’s words, the thought of what she was going to talk about made Ahana weak. She was not sure about the reaction Abi would provide in response.

Anyways, after a while, Ahana said, “Okay Abi, but don’t take me wrong. I …”

“Just tell me what you think,” Abi’s words came sharp.

Ahana took a deep breath and started. “You and Adhi…,” Ahana said and paused to check with Abi’s reaction. Abi was stern showing no reaction in her face and Ahana continued boldly.

“You and Adhi went to Lara’s place hiding the truth from us right? Why…” Ahana was stopped by Abi even before completing what she had started.

“Ahana, this is what is bothering you? I accept that we lied to you. But we didn’t mean to cheat you,” said Abi. 

“No Abi…I…” Ahana was again denied the chance.

“See, I admit that it was wrong. We should have at least told you the truth. But I and Adhi feared that you can’t handle it. So we thought of hiding the truth. I am really sorry for that,”

“Abi, listen…I didn’t…”

“I didn’t think that this will hurt you this much. I am sorry,” Abi said and pleaded to Ahana pathetically. Ahana’s patience went beyond the limit and she couldn’t handle anymore.

“Abi, Stop it!” Ahana snapped at once and there emerged an instant silence.

Abi didn’t understand the reason behind Ahana’s anger. So, Abi waited for Ahana to speak up.

“You are not even letting me talk,” Ahana’s voice came as a complaint.

Abi’s gaze averted down to the bed and she muttered under her breath, “Sorry,”

“I don’t need your sorry and I am not clearly hurt for hiding the truth from me,” Ahana shouted a bit louder.

Abi didn’t care about the raised voice of Ahana. All she wondered about was Ahana’s last words.

“Then why didn’t you tell me at first?” asked Abi.

“Did I get a chance?” complained Ahana.

A brief silence filled the room for a while and Ahana continued. “My question is entirely different from your answer,”

Abi remained silent giving Ahana her full chance now.

“You both went to Lara’s place today, right? Ahana asked.

Abi nodded.

“My only question is did Adhi ask you to accompany him to Lara’s place?” Ahana put up her question that stunned Abi.

Abi understood the direction the conversation is taking place. Abi managed herself and shook her head sideways indicating no.

“Hmm… So, he didn’t call you. Then why did you go with him?” Ahana stared at Abi.

While Abi was searching for some answers, Ahana talked again. “No no! My question was wrong,”

Abi suddenly felt relieved but Ahana’s next question shocked her again.

“Not why but, how did you go with him? Because…. Adhi is a man, right?” Ahana asked.

Abi gave Ahana a firing look for an instant and shifted her gaze from Ahana. She shifted in the bed feeling uncomfortable as she didn’t expect such a question from Ahana. Time passed. Abi had no other way to escape. She finally decided to answer Ahana boldly.

“Yes, Ahana. No doubt Adhi is a man and he didn’t call me to Lara’s place. That was clearly my decision to go with him,”

“That’s my girl. No doubt, you are a new Abi,” said Ahana and pinched Abi’s cheeks.

“No! You are taking things wrong, Ahana. I am the same old Abi. I went with Adhi not because I have changed, but because I was curious about this issue and wanted this to end soon. So, I thought of helping him. That’s it,” Abi’s words came like a sharp arrow hitting anything that comes in front of it.

Ahana felt slightly cheated by Abi words, but soon she managed to fight back Abi.

“No Abi! You are lying,” Ahana fired back.

“How do you say that? So, what do you think?” Abi asked little irritated.

“This issue may be one of the reasons, but that is not the only one. I know you well. You are not the kind of person to accompany a man whom you know for hardly two days. There is something deep inside your heart that you yourself couldn’t figure out,” Ahana answered patiently.

But Ahana’s words infuriated Abi and she shouted at Ahana gathering her strength.

“What are you trying to say, Ahana? Do you think I have any feelings for Adhi?” Abi words came like a hot volcano.

But Ahana held her composure and said with a smirk, “How do I know that?”

“Ahana, there is nothing. I went with him to just solve the problem. But you may think about how a girl like me can go willingly with Adhi. I went with him because…” Abi said and stopped at this point hesitatingly.

“Because…?” Ahana was curious to know.

“Because….” Abi squeezed her eyes once and opened it next second and answered, “I… I… I trust him…”

Ahana’s face lit up brightly like thousands of candles illuminating in the room. She couldn’t control her happiness. Out of control, she hugged Abi hardly, silently thanking God for making her believe in Adhi.

XXXXX

The moment James attended the call; Adhi introduced himself and started narrating everything he had figured out.

At first, James was truly shocked at Adhi’s explanation about the ring. But soon James recovered himself as he had already expected something about the ring.

Yet, the details about the underwater world, Diya’s meet with the queen of the ocean, the whales that were attacking humans, everything seemed stupid for James’ knowledge.

But James couldn’t just avoid it because he himself saw the whales trying to attack them. So James had more chances to believe Adhi than otherwise.

The mysterious thing about the ring was finally out, thought James while continuing to hear Adhi. After a while, the one-way conversation came to an end and Adhi silently waited for James to respond.

“The matter is getting serious. What do you think, James?” Adhi finally put out his question and waited patiently.

After nearly half an hour, James got the chance to talk. Clearing his throat James started his part.

“Hmm… I understand everything now, Adhi. I also understand the mystery that saved us yesterday,”

“Yesterday…?” Adhi’s voice came shocked and confused.

“Yes! Another tragedy happened yesterday…,” James said and staggered a bit.

 “What happened? Are you okay?” Adhi’s concerned voice came vibrated through the phone.

“Yes! We are fine,” James assured Adhi and gave him the details of the whale attack after kayaking.

Once after James finished describing the things, silence filled the line. Adhi needed some time to process the incidents that had happened to James and Lara.

“Oh my God!” Adhi said after a small pause. His voice confirmed James that Adhi was upset and traumatized.

“That’s okay. We escaped. I was actually confused thinking of what made whales not to attack us. Now, I got the answer that it was the ring,”

“Yes, James. So, what is the next step?” Adhi asked.

“Hmm….” James couldn’t think of anything right then. He remained silent.

“James? What happened?” Adhi questioned after sensing the entire silence. James was bought back to the present by Adhi’s words.

“Adhi… Sorry… nothing. Just thinking…hmm…” James said and wobbled.

“James, even I am confused at first when I came to know about everything. But now I am clear. There is only one way out,” Adhi said.

“Hmm… The only way is to throw the ring in the sea,” said James and slightly turned his head to look at Lara.

But to his shock, Lara was not there. Where did she go? When did she go out of this room? Thought James and breathed heavily.

James’ body trembled after noticing that Lara is missing. He cursed himself for being indulged fully in the conversation and being not even aware of the door that was opened.

James suddenly wanted to end the call to run out and shout for Lara.

“Okay, Adhi. I will talk to you later,” James said and cut the call. The next moment, he checked the full room and the balcony thoroughly. James’ eyes went wet after assuring that Lara was not in the room.

He ran to the reception to check for his wife. “Did you see my wife here?” James’ question jolted the receptionist all of a sudden.

Then she composed herself and said, “Yes, she went this way,” she said and showed the direction.

James didn’t expect this answer. He at least thought that Lara would be in the cafeteria of the cottage. But she went out not even letting him know.

“What? Do you saw her going out? Did she tell you where is she going?” James asked with tears welling up in his eyes.

The receptionist shook her head sideways. James felt broken.

Lara!!! Where did you go? James screamed in his mind and ran out searching for her.