Jotsna firmly clutched Jack's hand and stamped her fingers over
his upper arm. They were sitting in a desolated lounge near the
Immigration check at the International Airport of Maldives.She
leaned over him , rested her head on his shoulder while shivering
inside .She was fidgeting, staring at the odd things that
surrounded her. She felt as if she was amidst a cloud of enigma.
Jack tried to console her with a gentle touch over her head. He
kissed on her forehead and said "Don't worry darling, We will be
out of this soon" !!
Far from his expectations she broke contact, extricated and distanced herself from him and shouted "Its all because of you !!! Just get away from me. I hate you !!", while whining like a school kid.
An incensed Jack, failed to arrest his anger and refuted back saying, "It was because of your carelessness. Don't you dare blame me for this. You are a sick lady!!"
The frenzied couple succumbed to their inadvertent situation.They occupied both ends of a five seater sofa . There was an air of silence. The same place which was surreal to them a mere six hours ago, turned into a disaster presently. They were desperate in getting out of it but they had no clue how to.
The shorter hand of the clock completed more than 3 rotations and neither of them spoke to each other. All they felt for each other was bitter "ANIMOSITY".
4 days back.....
"Did you call up the CITI bank customer care and alert them about our travel ??" Jo questioned Jack while packing up for their travel ahead.
"Yes, I did darling" responded Jack, who was busy booking a cab for the airport drop from his home.
A happy couple, Jack and Jo, recently got married after 3 years of intense courtship.
They are a typical 'Tom and Jerry' couple. They fought over petty things and squabbled all through the day but it was the glutting love that they shared with each other bound them as one.
In the recent past, it was this day that was gleaming strong in Jack's dreams. They had a flight to catch, a holiday to be spent and a romance to be sensed !!
"The cab has arrived Jo !! Hurry up !!" shouted Jack.
Jo was sweating out in locking the main door and hung to the lock ensuring that it was locked properly.
Jack never missed this scene and smiled at Jo's kiddish behavior.
It was 1 A.M. Their cab cruised through desolate roads and reached the Bangalore International airport on time.They did some dilly-dallying across the airport and boarded the flight to SriLanka after completing their immigration formalities.
The flight was indeed a cozy one and they managed to be seated with the wings on their flanks.The steel bird was on its course for a smooth take-off. They got updates through the internal audio system and visually through the air hostess.The signage flashed for fastening up their seat belts, lights were switched off, the bird accelerated on the run way and engines blared.After a mild turbulence, the flight was comfortably placed in the air, Jo and Jack clinged tightly to each other and it was only after a few minutes that their tumultuous ride became normal. They relaxed a bit and in just under an hour entered the Colombian skies. It was raining cats and dogs when the flight was about to land and they witnessed some spectacular sights. The skyline of Colombo was very much active with the frequent lightning.It welcomed them with a shower.
"Are you OK Jo ?!!" asked Jack as they were walking along the corridors of the moderately crowded airport.
They occupied a comfortable place in the transit lounge.
"I'm fine Jack,except for a mild head ache. I should be OK Now, what shall we do for the next three hours.Our next flight to Maldives is at 5 A.M right ?"
"Yes darling !! Its a big airport. We will roam around, have a cup of tea, will do some shopping and I will also give engage your cheeks with some kisses.", Jack ended with a smile.
"I greatly appreciate the last part of your sentence..." said Jo, with a smile across the corners of her lips.
The next flight was scheduled on time and they boarded the flight with much ease. It was again an hour long journey. They saw people from different parts of the world, travelling along with them. In no less than fifteen minutes, the flight was into the blue sky. The mighty Indian Ocean was a scenic beauty to watch through their window.
They were very much unaware that a miracle was awaiting their arrival.
Jack hastily woke up Jo to show her the splendid turquoise waters. The sun woke up along with Jo and was illuminating the blue waters. Bright yellow rays ricocheted off the water's surface displaying a picturesque scenery they had never before witnessed in their lives. They saw many tiny islands surrounded by the turquoise waters, there were some lone ships sailing through the rough waters. The capital island city-Male was near the airport. The city had no sky scrappers but it looked beautiful.The flight made a graceful descent and hit the island airport with a creak.The passengers applauded the pilot with claps for his adept flying skills .
Jo and Jack got down from the flight and were exulted when they set their feet on the Maldivian soil. The journey so far, was itself a reveling experience for them. Its a rule to have a valid return ticket and a minimum of $100 per day per person for the entire duration of stay. They had both managed to get a tourist visa and strolled towards the ferry lounge.
There was a small ferry waiting to take them to the resort. Its was just a half hour travel. The concierge assisted them on boarding. Jack and Jo opted to travel on the deck. Jo kept on clicking pictures with her camera. It was a rejuvenating ride after hours of travel. Jack was worried about Jo's safety as she was standing along the corners of the boat. Before he could act on it, she slipped but was quick enough to catch the protective railings and managed to maintain her balance.Alas!!! Jo's hand bag slipped away from her shoulder and plunged into the Indian ocean. !!Damn !!! It happened within the fraction of a second and all that Jack could do was to remain as a mere spectator.
Jo was panting and sweating out profusely. She could not believe what had just happened. She cried.There was no a way to get back her bag. Jack took her inside the boat and allayed her.
"Don't cry Jo. Its ok . Good that you are safe" Jack said in a mild tone.
"My new blue Louis Vuitton bag !!! Monika from my office envied my bag!!! That's why all these things happened, I always knew she was a totally evil woman!!". She was frowning.
"You fool !! By any chance are you worried about the credit card that was inside that Bag ??"
Jo stopped crying and was shell shocked.
"Oh my God !! How are we gonna pay for the resort ?? If we could not pay where else could we stay in this island ? I am really sorry Jack." She now switched to crying afresh for the credit card.
"Stop it Jo!!!" Jack blared at her.
The ferry reached the shores of the island on which the resort was beautifully housed. When their co-travellers were reveling , Jack and Jo were worried about the settlement of bills. They walked to the resort and were welcomed with a tender coconut and a loosely decorated garland.They received it with fake smiles. One of the executives, briefed them about the resort facilities and guided them to the billing desk.
"Jack, ask them if we can pay once we reach India after the holiday or ask him to keep an account !!" Jo provided a timely suggestion for which Jack responded with a violent streak.
Jack confidently reached to his pocket and took out his debit card and gave it to the lady in-charge of billing.
"You fool !! What are you doing ?? Card's cash balance would not be enough for this hefty bill settlement. The transaction would be declined " said Jo and held his hand tight. She was freezing even in the tropical climate. Much to her surprise , the transaction was successful and the bills were settled. They heaved a sigh of relief and walked towards the bungalow that was allocated for them.
Jo was smiling all the way, pinched his cheek and said "I love you darling !!"
"Stop it Jotsna !! I am not gonna entertain this any further !!" said Jack in a terse tone.
"Its OK my man !! Can I atleast worry now about my blue Louis Vuitton bag ???" Jo quipped with a capricious attitude .
"You are a mad lady !!" Jack blasted at her and stomped towards their bungalow.
It was around 12 noon, when they checked in. The bungalow was aesthetically located along the white sanded shores of the sea and amidst a beautiful garden. They were gifted with enough resources to increase their romance quotient but preferred to squabble over the lost credit card. Jack proactively called up CITI bank customer care and blocked his credit card.
They slept (of course separately :P ) for hours and wasted their precious time. A beautiful evening dawned upon them . It was five o'clock when her stomach started to grumble. She was hungry but feared to wake him up.She waited for half an hour and could not resist and she started to faint. She gathered some energy and woke him up. Jack scowled as he woke up.
"I am hungry Jack", said Jo in a feeble voice.
"Woof !! Hunger-Makeup-Shopping. These are very much quintessential of you", said Jack while rubbing his eyes.
They got ready and planned to go to the cheapest restaurant available in the resort. Jack glanced the route on the map and they started walking along the shores. Jo was wearing a pair of board shots and a pink t-shirt.Jack was casually dressed with a white shorts and a blue t-shirt. They refrained themselves from walking together.
After a few minutes of walk, Jack inched towards her , placed his fingers between hers and said "I am sorry Jo. I lost my temper !!"
"I need a proper Italian Pizza with a thin crust !!!", said Jo in a lighter tone and gripped her fingers over his fore arm.
"You silly girl!! I will get you one darling" Jack smiled and kissed her forehead.
She buried her head over his chest and braced him. It was a beautiful evening and the sun was slowly taking its shelter. The sun witnessed its evening live action on the turquoise waters.The wind wafted along the surface of the water and splashed it on the coconut trees and dwindled along the shores.They were basking in the mild breeze and firmly fixed their feet on the shores. They remained in that position for a few minutes before Jo remained Jack about the "Italian Pizza".
After a brief promenade, they reached the beach restaurant. Diffused light spread across the restaurant and it was also gracefully lit by the natural satellite. The atmosphere was filled with the DJ's music and the juggling sound of glasses. They occupied a couch which was positioned in a least inhabited place. They had the entire ocean before them, limitless sky decorated with starts above them. Jack had Jo sitting beside her. He could not have wished for anything more.They had the time of their life.
"Hi !! My name is John Fernandez and I am at your service". John interrupted the romancing couple.
John Fernandez, a man in his early forties, was fat and bald . He sported a learned look and his face was beaming with tranquility which expressed inner peace and confidence.
He had unintentionally over heard their conversation and learnt that they are Tamilians and in order to make them feel at home, he started conversing in Tamil.
"Tamil" !! screamed Jo and asked him, "Where are you from Sir?"
"My native is Kanyakumari ",said John in polite way.
"Oh that's great, John !! We are from Bangalore!! Since how many years have you been living in Maldives?", asked Jo.
"More than 12 years. I did my hotel management course at Chennai and later I worked in Accord international at Chennai for 11 years before coming here".
"Don't you miss your family John ?", Jo questioned him further .
"Yes of course. I do want to go back to India. But being an ardent nature lover, I love this place. These days Chennai has become a concrete jungle. When I was in Chennai, I nurtured a 80 year old banyan tree and out of curiosity I went to see it a couple of months ago. Far from my expectations I could not see even the trace of that huge banyan tree. They uprooted it and all I saw was a big shopping mall in that place.We think of ourselves as being more civilized but we are heading towards a more hostile environment." His tone was attenuating towards the fag end of his speech and finished with saying "That's all part of the society. Sorry madam. I got deviated. What you gonna have for this evening??"
After a long pause , Jo responded with saying "A veg Pizza and Carlsberg".
The Pizza satiated her hunger, Jack uncorked the beer and sipped to quench his thirst and kissed Jo with his beer smeared lips.
They flagged John that they were done. John collected the plates and alerted them about a soiree themed on Jazz music that was scheduled for the next day evening at the Beach bar. Jo thanked him for the information .
A new day dawned on the beautiful island. They did a bit of snorkeling that afternoon.They spent their evening at the Beach bar. Jazz musicians entertained them with some mesmerizing tunes.The sun was slowly retiring for that day. They were comfortably placed in the king size bean bag and were sipping beer with their hands held together. Jazz music-a beautiful evening- turquoise waters- a hand clutching beer - another one clutching his soul mate's. Bliss!! Yes, that's exactly what Jack felt that evening.
They spent the third day afternoon with the sun and the sea, this time trying their hand at snorkeling in the precarious waters. The sunset cruise was waiting for them that evening. The cruise took them deep into the India ocean, far away from the shores. They witnessed spectacularly orchestrated gymnastics of the beautiful dolphins.
Fourth day. Jo was sobbing uncontrollably. They would for sure miss this great place.They managed to settle the restaurant bills and started their journey towards the airport after bidding farewell to John.
They reached on time, did some souvenir shopping before boarding the flight.
They reached Colombo on time and were waiting for their next flight to Chennai. Colombo was still under thick and heavy clouds. Confusion reigned at its prime at the departure gate from which they were supposed to be heading for Chennai . With no official to provide them with accurate information and no announcements being made through the airport's internal audio system, they boarded the flight that was parked at terminal number 12 under their own presumption that this carrier would take them to Chennai, their final destination.
After an hour's journey, the flight started to descend. The flight's landing was smooth but for them it was a like a heart -attack. They saw the turquoise waters once again !!!!!!!! BammMMmmMM!!
Yes !! They landed in Maldives once again instead of Chennai !! They had boarded a wrong flight. There was no proper checking at the Colombo airport nor were their boarding passes thoroughly checked in-flight. It was Jo's idea to board the flight that was in terminal number 12.
Shocked !! Terrified !! Appalled !!
Jack gave a scathing and contemptuous look at Jo. They abused each other with all possible good and effective words that were available in the bad words sections of the dictionary. They felt as if the entire island was pirouetting about their head.
They were forced to go to the immigration office. The incumbent officers demanded for a valid return ticket and minimum amount of cash that they were entitled to have. They had none. Panic.!! They were left with no money to book a return ticket. The lost credit card added fuel to the fire.The couple were pushed into a world of panic!!
Jotsna firmly clutched Jack's hand and stamped her fingers over his upper arm. They were sitting in a desolated lounge near the Immigration check at the International Airport of Maldives.She leaned over him , rested her head on his shoulder while shivering inside .She was fidgeting, staring at the odd things that surrounded her. She felt as if she was amidst a cloud of enigma. Jack tried to console her by his gentle touch over her head. He kissed her forehead and said "Don't worry darling, We would be out of this soon" !!
The shorter hand of the clock completed more than 3 rotations and neither of them spoke to each other. All they felt for each other was "ANIMOSITY".
With no visible hopes around, She started to chant the Holy Gospel.
An infuriated Jack, ignored her and walked away from the place.
Jo knelt, bowed her head in an act of obeisance and started to pray. She was weak and fragile. She suddenly felt someone touching her shoulders. She raised her head to see if it was Jack but was taken aback to see John Fernandez. She started to cry inconsolably at the sight of him. John tried to learn the situation. She explained their situation to him and asked, "Is there anyway you can help us John??"
"Where is your husband ??", asked John.
"We fought bitterly and exchanged some harsh words. He ignored me and left the place a while ago. Its been more than four hours we spoke to each other!!", Jotsna started to cry once again. John made her to rest over his shoulders and said, "Don't worry my child. I will help you out !!"
It was the first ray of hope that consoled Jo and asked him "Really ??"
"Yes.I know a few officers at the immigration office. I will explain your situation to them.I will also book a return ticket for tomorrow morning. You can transfer the money once you reach India.Tonight, you can stay at my place. Is that OK child ?",finished John.
"Thanks a lot, John. We are indebted to you for rest of our lives......."
"Never mind Jotsna. If its the God's will to let me have you as my guests, then it would happen for sure. Its basic human tendency to help each other."
He made her delve in his generosity.It was then Jotsna started smiling.
"You search for your husband and wait near the ferry. I will book the tickets and then pick you up!!"
Jotsna agreed and went in search of Jack.
After an hour of intense search, Jo found him in the smoking lounge. She dared to go inside the room and asked him to come out.
"What now Jo!!", screamed Jack.
"I know that you are not interested in talking to me right now, but I just wanted to let you know that John has come forward to help us."
"Really?" exclaimed Jack.
They once again refrained themselves from walking together. John noticed this from a distance, but he did not explicitly comment on it when he spoke to them.
It was a five minute boat ride and they reached the capital city.They reached John's house. John placed them in a comfortable room.
John once again offered himself to be at their service but this time it was a different ball game.
A new day dawned, rather a day that was not at all in the itinerary. Neither of them spoke to each other since last evening.
Finally things went as planned.
After completing their formalities at the immigration, they were about to bid farewell to John.
John could no longer hold himself and refrain from saying what he really wanted to since last evening now that they had reached the drop off point. It came as a surprise to them. They were all ears.
"You are a good couple but don't get offended with a small piece of advice that I am gonna share with you now", he cleared his throat and continued to speak .."I've had very little interaction with you but I noticed that you two get along with each other only until the tides of time are in your favor. Even if there is a slight upset, you people blow it up to proportions unknown and succumb to the situation. Its very easy to build a beautiful sand castle along the shores when the sea is calm. But it really takes some effort to build a castle during the storm. If you manage to build one, then its that castle that would be more strong and memorable one.
Try to build a castle during the storm and you will feel the bond between you grow leaps and bounds. Its this that we call as "LOVE" and not what you had these four days. Have a pleasant journey and catch the right flight this time". John hugged the couple bid them farewell.
Jack and Jo, watched him till he was visible to them. When he reached the horizon, they turned back and walked towards their departure gate.
Neither of them spoke. They boarded the flight and occupied the seats.
The steel bird was on its course for a smooth take-off. They got updates through the internal audio system and visually through the air hostess.The signage flashed for fastening up their seat belts, lights were switched off, the bird accelerated on the run way and engines blared. After a mild turbulence, the flight was comfortably placed in the air. Jack held her hands and said, "I love you darling".
Jo burst into tears and hugged him tight and said, "Lets build a castle in a storm".
"For sure darling". They kissed. They disappeared into the horizon.
The curtain falls .!!