Chapter one - Just another Day in another Place
Angie Noam took out her new Lenovo ThinkPad and placed it on the desk. Her new room was much smaller than her last but she liked it. It had a certain charm which amused Angie. Jack Truman walked in with another box. 'Please, tell me that you have brought more clothes than this box.' Angie smiled, 'I let the rest remain home for when I visit. I will buy some new here.' Jack smirked, 'Angie Noam buying clothes; now, that is something I don't want to miss.' She pushed him gently, 'very funny.'
'I can't believe you bought this place.' He said while following her to the kitchen.
'Why? Don't you like it?'
'I love it but you are not the girl who buys these kinds of expensive houses. Did your father press you to buy it?'
'No, this was my decision. I loved this house, and I thought that I could spoil myself a little.'
'Hit me and call me honey! Did you just say that?'
'Very funny. Almost as funny as that thing you are dating.'
'Hey! Carlos is not a thing! He is a man, and I like him very much.'
'You like a part of him.' Angie corrected.
Angie laughed as she poured some juice for Jack and her. 'So, how are you feeling about this?' He asked carefully. She putted her glass down, 'I don't know yet. This is the first time I will be alone since India.' Jack moved his hand to Angie's, 'You can do this. Your parents would never have let you move if they thought that you couldn't do it.'
'I know. Amma and Abba want me to be happy, and for that I have to let the past go.'
'You have been doing great so far.'
'Oh yes. Ten years later and I still have bad dreams about it. It is truly a great process.' A sarcastic tone declared
'Angie, you were sold by your own mother to people who captured you in a room. You lived in captivity for eight years. You were almost raped. You were practically tortured by the women in that house. You have to give yourself a break.'
'There are people who have it much worse than me. Amma and Abba saved me. There are people who are never saved.'
'You were fourteen years old, Angie. You can't have survival guilt. I know you wanted to save Laxmi too but we can't save everyone.'
Angie starred into her glass, hoping that she could see Laxmi and know that she was fine. Jack's phone rang and he picked it up, 'Jack speaking.' A grin appeared on Jack's face, 'Carlos. I was just thinking about you.' Angie grunted, 'liar', and Jack hissed her. She grinned at him and then walked to her room. She found her phone and called her father. It rang three times and then a voice stated, 'Jason Noam.' Angie changed her voice, 'Good day Good sir, I am calling to let you know that I really enjoyed seeing you last time.'
There was silence, 'Who is this?'
'The girl from your dreams'
'No, you are not my wife.'
'Good answer!' Angie exclaimed.
'Angie? Mischievous girl!'
She laughed as her father scold her, 'I am glad that you found this funny! What would your mother say?'
'It was her idea, Abba.'
'Of course it was. So how is your new home?'
'It is good. The ocean keeps singing for me as I unpack my life into these four walls.'
'Always so poetic' Angie could hear the proud smile on her father's lips.
'I am going to miss having breakfast with you and Amma.'
'I miss you already.'
'You should have stopped me.'
'I want you to live your life. You need to see more of the world. I don't want you to be captured anymore, Angel.'
A tear escaped from Angie's eye. 'I have to go now. There is still a lot of unpacking to do. I love you!'
'Love you more!'
'Is everything a competition with you?' Angie scolded softly.
'You know me.'
Angie hung up and hugged her phone as if it was her father. Jack walked in. 'I promised myself I wouldn't cry.' Angie laughed, 'shut up.'
The empty apartment was quickly turned into a home. The double bed was built first. Jack turned to Angie with a grin, 'what do you plan to do on that bed?'
'Shut up.' She replied while trying to hide her smile. Jack put an arm around her shoulders, 'I love you.'
'I love you more.'
'Is everything a competition with you?'
'You know me.'
Jack began to build the closet as Angie began to built and place the other furniture. The sofas were already placed by her father and Uncle Reese and she smiled as she remembered how Uncle Reese had teased Jason Noam by saying, 'In your age, one should not be playing hero, Jason.' And her father had replied, 'I am forty-eight and you are fifty-eight. You really want to mock me, old man?' Angie was pulled back from her memories when a weird sound filled the room. For a moment she thought that it was some sort of alarm but it wasn't. It was an odd sound which reminded of scream but at the same time it sounded like a song. The tone changed and went from lower tones to higher tone. Jack came into the living room, 'what is that?'
'I don't know. I am not sure where it is coming from. I think it is from outside.'
'It sounds like a... It sounds like whale or something.'
It was true but very unlikely. Angie looked out of her window and starred at the beach. She looked around bewildered but she was not sure what she was looking for. As she turned to her left, the corner of her eye caught a movement on the right side. Something dived into the water. By the time she turned to right, it was gone. Jack joined her but he didn't see anything. 'What was it?' Angie shook her head, 'I don't know.' Suddenly she turned to Jack, 'A whale? Seriously, what is it with you and the ocean?'
'What do you mean? Didn't that sound like a whale?'
'Yes, Jack. A whale decided to take the day off and go to the beach.'
'Maybe it wasn't a whale but something else.'
'The ocean is big. We can't know everything which is in it.'
'You really like to believe that.'
'I am just saying that if there is any hidden, magical place on this planet. It is probably in the ocean.'
'You are so adorable when you get all dreamy with me.'
'Shut up', Jack walked back to the bedroom.
Angie laughed to herself but when she stopped, she looked at the water again.
As the sun set, Angie and Jack sat on the balcony and watched it. The apartment only needed few adjustments before it was completely done, and so they decided that it could wait till another day. Angie had made some juice for herself while Jack had helped himself to a glass of white wine. 'So you decided to have some wine for your father?' Jack asked. 'Yeah, well he does love wine, and I want him to be able to relax when he comes here. Amma will not be happy.' She replied as she took another bite of her Pizza. The silence was filled by the ocean's melody, and no one wanted to talk before Angie saw a longing gaze in Jack's face.
'You know one of these days you will have to tell me why you love the ocean so much.' she demanded
He smiled sadly, 'It was the only comfort I had when I grew up, the sound of the ocean and the fantasies about a world beyond my sight.'
'Did you go to the beach when you wanted to escape your father?'
'No, I went there when I needed to heal my wounds after the beating.'
Angie moved closer to him and hugged him, 'I am sorry, Jack.'
'Don't be. When we moved away from the beach, I found you.'
'True. You are very lucky.'
'That I am!'
Angie moved back, 'So what happened when you grew up?'
'So you still believe in a world beyond your sight?'
'There is something about the ocean, Angie. It spoke to me. Something spoke to me.'
'What spoke to you?'
'There was this one day. I was sitting by the shore when my tears just stopped. There was no sound but the wind and waves. I was just sitting there and suddenly something spoke. It was brief moment but it was there.'
'What spoke? Did you feel something?'
'You can't put into words, Angie.'
'You know when people are sad and they sit in the nature, they often meditate and they begin to relax.'
'It wasn't meditation, Angie.'
'Then what was it?'
'It was... a silent voice.'
Angie remained silent as she watched her friend fall into deep thoughts. When he turned back to the physical life he grinned, 'I know what you are thinking.'
'I am not thinking anything but if you are hearing voices then I know some people...' Angie grinned.
'Very funny. Almost as funny as the pregnancy sweater you wore to school.'
'Oh, you are so funny. Does Carlos know or you two don't talk much.'
'It is not about the physical, okay? I like him.'
'Alright, but don't use big words such as "physical" because he might not understand.'
'Now, you are just being mean.'
'Tell me I am wrong without lying.'
'I feel sorry for your kids.'
'You have just admitted that I am right.'
Angie laughed but Jack's laugh faded quickly. 'What about you, Angie?'
'What about me?'
'Didn't you have some place or fantasy you escaped to?'
'I did. I tried to convince myself that I was kidnap and that my mother would never sell me.'
'Did you ever believe it?'
'Every second until the day, she proved me wrong.'
'What did she say?'
'She had to feed her family.'
'But what about you? why did she sell you?'
'Well, I could barely talk probably then. Remember, I used to stammer before Abba and Amma cured it. She said that I would become a burden on her. That no one would marry me, and they would have to take care of for the rest of their lives. And therefore she sold me so she could get her other children married.' Angie looked toward the horizon but there were no tears in her eyes only pain.
She continued, 'When I turned five. Some man from a higher cast saw me. I was scolding some boy because he was teasing me. It rebellion in his eyes and he thought that I needed to be taught a lesson. I lived in a very small village in India, and he was some rich landlord who could do as he pleased because he was the law in that place. He didn't like me, and then when he found that I was the daughter of some poor people, he decided that he would ruin my entire life, and use me as an example for every other girl and woman. He bought me, and when he found out that I stammered, it was easy to convince my biological parents that they were lucky to get that offer.'
'There were no place flaws in that place.' Jack declared sadly.
'I was five, Jack. I kept telling myself that they had kidnapped me, and that my mother was looking for me. It locked me into the top room in their Bangalore. For eight years I was captured. They send food by the servant, and sometimes she would just drop the plate on the floor so I had to eat from there. Once the landlord's wife came to my room and she burned me with a piece of coal. But I kept thinking that my mother would never have let this happen.'
Another moment of silence filled the room. Jack knew the story but he didn't stop her. He listened as if he didn't know because the story always shocked him.
'When I was twelve, their son came to my room. He tried to rape me but Laxmi saved me... Once my mother came to the Bangalore, and they let me see her. She told me that she couldn't me home. She admitted that she had sold me. They did it on purpose. They wanted to break my spirit, and they did. Laxmi was my only friend. She was the daughter of the landlord but he hated her. He only wanted to have sons. Laxmi would bring me good food and some of her old clothes. When her father caught her, he hit with a cane.'
Tears began to fall but Angie continued, 'She was strong and stubborn so it didn't stop her.'
'I am so glad that Mr. and Mrs. Noam save you.' Jack breathed.
'I truly believed that they were sent to save me. They came to the village for charity, and the Landlord greeted them heartily. When he saw that Abba was an Indian who had grown up in American and become very successful, he insisted that they would stay with them. They were more impressed when they say Amma was wearing traditional Indian clothes despite her blue eyes and fair skin.' Angie laughed with a sad mine. 'That's when Amma saw me. It didn't take long before they understood what was going on, and that's when they decided to get me out. When I escaped, Laxmi was yelling to me, "You are free. You are free". To begin with the plan was to find me a home in Bombay but after the long journey, Abba and Amma wanted to take me home with them. They wanted to adopt me.'
Jack smiled, 'People like Mr. and Mrs. Noam are the reason that this world is still spinning.'
Angie sobbed, 'And as if it wasn't enough. Abba stayed home from his work for two years, and they both spent thousands of hours to teach me English and to teach me to read.'
'I remember when your first day at school. People where sure that you wouldn't for long. Everybody was amazed when you opened your mouth and spoke English fluent.'
Angie laughed, 'I remember. I looked at you and your mouth was wide opened.'
'You were the only one who ever spoke to me.'
'I am glad that I did.' Jack leaned for to kiss Angie on the cheek. He suddenly looked at his clock and rushed, 'I am sorry, honey, but I need to go now. Carlos is waiting, and it will take me an hour to get home.'
'It's fine. Will I see you tomorrow?'
'No, one can stop me.' Jack gave another kiss but then worriedly looked at Angie. 'Are you sure that you will be okay on your own?'
She smiled heartily and returned the kiss, 'It is just another day in another place. I will be fine.'