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The Little Mermaid - Part 1

posted Mar 2, 2012, 6:32 AM by Madhuri Sen   [ updated Mar 2, 2012, 6:33 AM ]

On her twenty-first birthday, Surili sat in the moonlight on one of the large rocks that the night sea travelers had to navigate around close to the Gateway of India, if they didn’t want themselves smashed. If one wasn’t looking closely, her fish tail along with her hair covering her upper body, made her like look a part of the rock that she rested on, staring out at the waving lights and wafting sounds. It was Saturday night and there were at least four parties in full swing on private yachts and catamarans around. Occasionally the shriek of an amused woman would cut the quiet of the cool evening. Surili looked at the sights and sounds in wonderment, her first view of the land world. She had been told that many years back the age of rising up to above the water was fifteen, but they considered that to be too young an age now – especially since the time one of her ancestors had allowed her magic mermaid voice to be cut out by the wicked ugly witch, who still sang so beautifully on it. Aerial had done that foolishly thinking that it would earn her the love of a man and an immortal soul – a man that she had saved from drowning,  when she first came up to view the land on her fifteenth birthday. The contrast of the water witch’s warty, twisted face and the voice that would tempt sailors to even death was fascinatingly disgusting.

Surili settled in resting on her stomach, nestling her head in her hand, chin almost touching the rock. She could even hear the conversations  from the closest yacht hosting a party. The party animals seemed totally drunk, with no signs of the alcohol letting up. It seemed to be a birthday celebration. The bold lettering said ‘Happy Birthday Yash Jaisinghania’.  She could see the birthday boy swinging to the beat, dancing from one end of the deck to the other. He was a handsome one. It was funny how one of the girls at the party seemed to be hanging around him constantly. But he seemed to be dancing with any other but her. Not that she seemed discouraged or about to give up! At one point she just hung on to his neck, like a noose, while he poured himself more champagne. A couple of hours went by. She could see some of the revelers strewn inebriated on the deck. She saw Yash raise his hand and excuse himself and totter to one of the side railings.

Yuck! He was throwing up his drink in large shuddering retches. He leaned further and further over. No one had noticed him as he’d moved to one of the less lit areas and many of the service staff were indoors. The yacht suddenly lurched to tip over on the side he was and Surili saw him go over the railing into the water. She panicked. He would drown. He was in no state to swim. So she dived in swiftly after him, tail fin gracefully cutting through the water, full breasts bobbing, long hair flared out in a veil behind her. In a matter of seconds, she was by his side and pulling him up to the rock on which she had been. But he seemed to be struggling to breathe. Surili had the insane urge to kiss his full lips. She had never kissed even a merman until now. None of them seemed good enough. She had been reserving her first kiss for the “right” guy, while her two merry sisters laughed at her and poked fun at her high expectations. She bent down and kissed him full on his lips. This made him stir and snuggle his face in the groove of her breasts. Surili had never felt like that before. Her blood seemed to heat up, her bones melt, there was a buzzing in her ear and her mouth went dry. Her shallow breathing now matched his as he still remained semi-conscious.

It would be dawn soon and she had to go back home. What was she to do with him? She had waited as long as she could possibly stretch her time to return. She had wanted him to open his eyes and look into hers. But that didn’t look like it was going to happen. She had been told that humans can’t breathe underwater and so die. So she couldn’t possible risk taking him back to her home. The party yacht was still bobbing in the water, with some of the guests still on board. But she couldn’t risk being spotted by trying to put him back in there – even if she could have with the high railings. So she decided to turn to the jetty at the Gateway. Just as she left him off at the steps, she heard one of the side motorboats from the same yacht rev up its engine. She turned around to see that the same girl that had been dancing attendance on Yash with no avail, was being ferried back. She left him a last swift brush on his lips and glided under the water surface from where she could see him – but she could not be spotted in the pre-dawn light.  The boat came alongside the jetty and the girl hopped out lightly. Coming up on Yash who was placed just a couple of feet away all of a sudden, she almost tripped on him and fell backwards. But she regained her balance on time. The last Surili saw them, the girl was talking rapidly into a box stuck on her ear….

Surili naturally a quiet girl was now even quieter. She barely spoke, seemed lost in her thoughts and had her meals in her room. The only company that she seemed to allow herself was the laptop that her father had gifted her on her birthday along with a net connection drawn from the deep sea cables. It was a wonderful place. She had heard a lot about Facebook from her sisters – they loved to romp around there chatting up adoring guys. She had an account there and had logged in a couple of times before, but it seemed to have no interesting merfolks at all. And besides you could not tell which the merfolks were unless you knew them by sight. The humans and they seemed pretty much the same. But the day after her birthday the first thing she had done was log in and search for Yash Jaisinghania – and his face with the naughty grin and flop of hair falling over his eyes had popped up. She added him and he’d accepted. Apparently no one ever refused a pretty girl’s invitation here – not even Yash Jaisinghania! Surili was not just a pretty girl. She was ravishing. He skin was like alabaster, her droopy eyes those of a temptress, her lips the perfect pouting mou and her nose the cutest, pretest thing there was. He display pic showed her off just until her bare shoulders, with her lustrous hair fanning out behind her in the water. It looked like an excellent photoshop job…just that those not from the sea were not to know that THAT was exactly how the photograph had been clicked…no photoshop.

She stared at FB chat all day wishing for it to pop up with Yash on it. And sometimes she was rewarded. She had started the conversation with a tentative hi and he had been more than willing to chat with her, but never for too long. He would always want to know where exactly she was from and she was always evasive. Just always said with a naughty smiley that she was not from his world…he always found that immensely funny. It had been a week with maybe 3-5 chats in that time and Surili could not take the buzzing in her head any longer. She longed to be able to kiss him again, for him to nestle against her, hold her in his arms and look deep into her eyes.

The old witch passing by just at one of the times that she was staring at the FB chat, sighing over it in the garden just outside her house – spotted the wistful expression on her face. She came over and said in the sweet voice that had once belonged to Arial, “Oh my lovely child, who are you breaking your heart over?” Surili had not heard her come up and looked up with a start. She turned the laptop screen away so that the witch could not see the pic she had been staring at. But unfortunately the witch already had! She laughed mirthfully, “Yash Jaisinghania indeed! Fine strapping lad he is too.  Don’t you just yearn to be in his arms?” Her words almost made tears start in Surili’s eyes. She had bottled up more than she was able to. Even if it was the evil witch, it felt comforting that at least one other person knew her secret. The witch blurred in her vision and she looked away. The witch asked more kindly now, “Do you want me to give you the potion that gives you legs and takes away your fish tail?  And since now I already have a lovely voice, you can keep yours. But I will still want some payment. If I start giving away things for free, I would be out of business in no time at all.” The witch thought for a second, “How about an arm and a leg?” She saw the striken look on Surili’s face and started to cackle, “I was kidding of course!” “I will settle for your sharpness of vision, so you will have to suffer the irritation of contact lenses or the ignominy of glasses for ever unless you’d rather prefer stumbling through the world half blind. Would serve me well…since my vision is not half as good as it used to be.”

Surili’s face lit up into a bright smile, her eyes were twinkling now. The witch continued, “Come over to my place to pick up the potion. And I expect you know the fine print? Take it only when you get to the shore, your feet will always hurt like you are walking on daggers, you’ll never be able to return to the sea. And of course, unless he falls in love with you and marries you, you will only look human but will have no soul. If he falls in love with and marries another you turn into foam in the sea.” Surili nodded her head. So far she hadn’t uttered a word, she didn’t need to. Her acceptance of those conditions in lieu of that one chance to be with Yash was written all over her face.

She picked up only her laptop and swam away towards the witch’s place in an hour. In that hour she peeked into the kitchen and asked her mother what was cooking, sat for a few minutes with her father watching underwater polo on the telly and tried to talk to her sisters for the last time. But they were both busy on chat. It was that time of day. So she left. With no proper goodbyes; the home of her childhood forever, to win over a man who didn’t even know of her existence except as one of his most likely numerous facebook acquaintances. 

The witch handed over the potion to her, minused 5.5 from her vision in both eyes, supplied her with a pair of contact lenses and glasses; along with the required lotion and spectacles case and sent Surili on her way. As she left, the witch called out to her, “He parties at the Taj InSomnia every Friday evening.”

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