A Moment to Forget (or Remember?)

Here’s the next entry to the ‘And then…’ contest. Just reminding, I am not disclosing the author‘s name now so that we can have a fair voting. The write-ups would be posted in the order I receive them… Here are the rules & hints and here is The Scene…

He glanced up suddenly at her, and then smiled – a bemused smile. He removed the headphones from his ears, and then studied her intently for a moment. She swallowed uncomfortably, looked at her boarding pass to check which seat she’d been given, and then cursed her luck. She was in the wrong seat.

Worse luck yet, her actual seat was just one row behind. She got up, and then looked at the numbers again.

“Excuse me,” she told the guy, who still wore the same bemused smile on his face, “But I think that is my seat.”

“So it is,” he said, getting up and moving to seat next to hers. She took a deep breath, composed herself, and sat down.

There was a loud crunch. She got up, shocked, and then winced when she saw that she had sit down on top of what she presumed were his glasses. He grinned more (what was making that man smile so much!?) and picked up the glasses. She could see that the glass had cracked.

“I’m really sorry,” she began, only to see his expression change for the first time to a frown.

“Sit down, Liz,” he said, his tone suddenly different from what it had been a moment ago. Suddenly he was no longer the polite stranger, but the old acquaintance. The shift made her heart start beating a little faster. His frown turned deeper, the chocolate brown eyes squinting in a way that she remembered rather fondly. “You do remember me, don’t you?”

How could she forget? The fairytale whirlwind romance, the wild week in paris with the handsome stranger, those days when she was happy?

“Of course I remember you,” she said, but she had to struggle for a moment to place the name. “Brian.”

“I’m glad,” he told her, and the boyish grin that she also remembered very fondly returned. “I haven’t seen you for…what…two years now? How have you been? And what’s up in Sydney?”

“I’ve been, fine,” she answered cautiously, not really sure where she wanted to take this. “Just going on a vacation…what are you doing?”

“Visiting my family. My dad lives in Sydney. You know – Rottheimer, from the Rottheimer and sons…”

His dad was the biggest business man in Sydney? Now that was really something she would’ve liked to have known before.

“So, as you’re in town,” he said with a grin, distracting her from her thoughts. “Why not join me? For, say dinner, this Tuesday?”

She opened her mouth to reply, but he ran a finger on her hand, reminding her of too many things at once, making her forget what she was going to say.

“Sure,” she said instead, and decided to leave the explanation of the fact that she had a boyfriend for another day.

Later, years later, when she tried to remember (or forget) this meeting…she felt bad – just not bad enough.

I jumped in the middle of the sea!

Though I was never a horrible student my folks often thought that I was not sincere enough… and  even after 5 long years I still remember that 2 months before my 3rd Semester MBA exams they forced me into studying while they took Manu (my kid sis) to Andaman for a holiday… Among the other fun things that she did there she also snorkeled in Andaman Sea, she loved it and often told me that it was one of the most wonderful experiences one could ever have, she is much braver than me, but the fact that she proved it, used to prick my conscience! On various occasions I got chances to have that ‘wonderful experience’ but I never even showed an inclination simply because I never thought I could handle it. I am scared of practically everything involved – water, depth, fish, water current, the motion of the boat…I knew I would never snorkel and this was a done deal!

A couple of weeks ago we decided to do something fun and exciting to break the routine of our mundane life of paid slavery and hence sprang the idea of snorkeling – of proving my mettle! Now when you watch people snorkeling it looks easy you just float and see the beautiful life in the ocean but for a fattu like me its nothing short of a BIG adventure… after a lot of contemplation we signed up for a ‘snorkeling tour’ in which the hotel guy would take us in a boat to some place and we would snorkel there for an hour and would get back – sounded quite simple.

We reached the pick-up point (i.e. the point from where you board the ferry, you perv!) A lad took us to a dark and dingy room and asked to pick and check our equipments – both Ashu and I had no clue what to pick and definitely no idea what to check, we looked at others and picked up a pair of fins, a snorkel with mask attached and a life jacket each. Once we took these we were in the boat and now I saw the mix of our team except us there were two ladies and two guys – the ladies were from Ireland and the two guys were desis. The guide howled “How many beginners?” male ego jumped in and none of the guys raised their hand, Ashu had to when I gave him a “look”. Then I asked the other guys “Oh so you’ve done it before?” reply “Nah all of us are beginners actually” one of the chicks said “We aren’t, we’re experts” For me the fun had begun!

We started on the boat and reached a spot where I could see some heads with colorful pipes floating in the sea. Then there was a briefing – put the snorkel in your mouth; don’t breathe with nose breathe with mouth; if the mask gets dirty just dip it in water and clean it; that’s it! One of the chicks (in a bored and frustrated voice) screamed “hey can we jump now” and before the reply off they went! Now the desi dudes geared up and jumped… Ashu and I were still tying our jackets and adjusting the equipment then finally Ashu jumped… I however sat at the rim & looked around, the land was far far away, suddenly the guide held my jacket and said “you jump on 5, I count now 1, 2…..” in those couple of seconds my whole life flashed in front of me, weird thoughts came to my mind – is this the last thing I am ever going to do? I did not even call my parents before coming here! Will I ever see them again?… “5” and off I went into the water, in panic I forgot everything and gasped for breath and in the process gulped some sea water then I held the boat as tightly as I could took a few deep breaths but I did not give up, once my breathing restored the guide held my hand and just asked me to float and keep breathing through the snorkel.

What I saw after that can not be described it was a whole new world of colors and life – hundreds of colorful fish swimming by me; beautiful and colorful corals, no aquariums can bring out the beauty of the ocean as I saw there, nothing that man makes can capture the beauty of this world. I counted at-least 12 different types of fish. After a while I was comfortable and the guide left me to wander around myself. It was bliss! Then I held Ashu’s hand and we were floating effortlessly looking at the wonderful ocean while we swam back to the boat… Ashu went down and picked something he handed it to me, it was a crab shell… trust me it was more romantic than the most beautiful flowers he has ever given me… Then he pointed at something and I found Nemo!

The 60mins which initially looked like eternity to me passed in a jiffy and we were signaled to come back. Without a doubt snorkeling is the most beautiful experience I’ve ever had – it’s as close to nature as you can get – its nature itself! I do not swim and I feel very uncomfortable in water I do not go beyond 1.2m in the pool yet I jumped in the middle of the sea and enjoyed it!