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The Little Mermaid - Part 2

posted Mar 2, 2012, 6:39 AM by Madhuri Sen

Surili approached the lonesome side of the Gateway jetty while the red, orange and gold streaks of the setting sun still rend the sky. Even as she had been swimming towards it, the thought struck her that her parents had always laughed at something the land people called “clothes”. They had found it ever amusingly funny and often discussed it at the dinner table, when they were on a land people bashing spree. The subject of ridicule of land people practices varied. The merfolk considered themselves far superior as they lived their lives more peacefully with nothing called “countries” as the land people seemed to have. The merfolk lived and moved as they liked all over the sea. Their ancestors at one time had lived in the icier waters up in the extreme north. They still went visiting there to see their old “castle” sometimes.  Her parent had always laughed at the ridiculousness of the land people needing to cover and weirdly wrap up all that was beautiful and nature had given them to show to best advantage. Sometimes men would hang a noose around their neck, at others women would be tottering and balancing themselves on spikes. But surely Surili thought, if I am not in clothes, they would immediately know I am not one of them as none of them seem to walk around uncovered. She pondered the dilemma as she waited just below the surface of the water till it was dark enough and there was only a couple of people left at a distance. It was a long wait and she observed the comings and goings of many people in their shiny cars in and out of a building that shone a bright sign with its name the Taj Mahal Hotel just across the Gateway.

A little beyond the midnight hour, Surili came out to shore and gulped down the witch’s potion. She almost fainted with the pain as her tail fin disappeared and took the form of legs. As the tears of pain cleared from her eyes, she saw a man looking down at her. Her fair skin glowing in the moonlight from afar had drawn him here. She recognized him as the man standing many hours outside a large black car. He had even slept for sometime in the car with his legs sticking out of the open doors. His face took on a look of amazement looking at her and then averted his eyes as he asked, “Madam, are you all right?”  Surili had covered herself with her long hair, but it was very apparent that it was all she was covered with. She didn’t feel all right, but didn’t know what to say to this strange man. He said, “Come to the car, you will be more comfortable there while you tell me your story. You must have been drugged and robbed. The Gateway is such an unsafe place now. It’s a wonder you managed to save your laptop!” As she tried to stand up – Surili’s feet buckled under her. The man supported her to the car, almost dragging her there. Leaving her in the back seat, he went to the back of the car and got back some clothes to cover her with. “My madam always keeps enough clothes to change into in the car and I don’t think she keeps count.” Holding out the clothes her said, “Here…I don’t think she would miss these. I would only hope that they fit.” Surili silently took the clothes and put them on while the man looked the other way. “I would have taken you to the police station, but I can’t leave from here lest I lose my job. But here is some money. You may be able to take a taxi to wherever you need to go.” Surili whispered a very soft, “Thank you,” and tried to walk out the car. She was feeling better now, but walking was in tiny painful steps that felt like knives under them would make her blood flow, exactly as the witch had warned.

It was Friday night, a week since her birthday. She remembered the witch saying that Yash was at the Taj every week, Friday night. So with nothing better to do, she stood at the point at which cars exited from the Taj. In a little over an hour, Surili spotted Yash coming out of the doors. He seemed to be very angry and speaking loudly into one of the boxes that many land people seemed to carry around and speak into. He snatched the car keys from the valet and shot the car out towards the road. Surili in trying to get out of the way, lost her precarious balance of her newly acquired legs. She had placed herself near the middle of the exit, hoping to find an excuse to talk to Yash, though she didn’t yet know what she would have said. The car hit her in a manner that she flew up and landed on the bonnet with her face into the windshield facing Yash. He looked at her with his jaw hanging slightly, even as the box he was talking into remained semi-poised near his ear. He had stopped talking into it.  Two of the hotel staff had come running to the car. Yash had by the time stepped out as well. The few people hanging around the stretch of road across were starting to close in for a closer view. One of the hotel staff told Yash, “Sir, I think you better take her to a medical centre to see that she is ok. But leave from here now, before either the crowd or police gather to make any trouble.”

Surili could not believe her luck as she stepped into the car. Yash drove off, looking at her occasionally with short turns of the head. “Are you ok? I am sorry that happened. Where can I drop you?” Surili said, “ I am fine really. Thanks. That was hardly a bump and it was my fault. Sorry. I have nowhere to go. So drop me where you find it convenient. I come from a faraway place and I have run away from home.” He went silent and then stopped the car near another stretch of sea after having driven a little way off. He seemed to be thinking. He turned to face her squarely and said, “So you have run away from home…..with just that laptop bag? What is your name?” She said, “Surili.” His eyes widened in recognition, “Hey you are the same Surili I met on Facebook a short time back, isn’t it? This world is such a tiny place. What a coincidence! But now what do I do with you. What’s your plan? What now?” Surili said, “I don’t know. No plan.” He thought awhile, “You know I can’t just dump you in the middle of the road and drive off. That would be a sensible thing for me to do but strange. A beautiful girl like you would hardly even survive the night. I think I know what I’ll do. I had planned to stay the night at my apartment anyway and not go home tonight. Why don’t you come with me and we will think of something.” Surili nodded silently in acceptance of the offer.

He turned the key in a door that opened up into a large room with a sea view. The moonlight shimmering on the waters, reminded Surili of home as she stepped in. He gestured her towards a large couch and she flopped into it. She sat with her legs folded under her like she would have her tail fin. Yash paced nervously around the room and then chose another seat at the far end to sit at it’s absolutely edge.  “It would be best for you to take up a job, you know. What can you do? How far have you studied?”  Surili thought quickly, “I had hoped I could do something with my singing talent.” “You sing? Wow! Could you sing something for me?”

Surily sang one her own compositions softly looking deep into his eyes in her mellifluously lilting voice that was as soft as water flowing, like she sang straight to his soul:

Somewhere in the far horizon the sea meets the sky
He’s dark and deep, she is full of sighs
Dark nights they can’t be parted, on the moonlight they waltz
On the crest of his waves, her bosom rises and falls

Daylight sets them apart, yet the caresses don’t cease
Even when laughing and flirting, in comes the breeze

Sometimes when it’s silent you can hear the sea roar
Venting at the same sky that he so adores

Then she lets down her cloudy veil and rains down her tears
Cooling down the sea, her pain is more than he can bear

The horizon is where their togetherness ends,
The unshakeable line that only moves but will not bend

As she sang, he seemed to relax. He got up moved closer and sat down close to her on the couch as if he did not want to miss the tiniest nuance of the song. As it came to its closing notes, Surili stretched out her arm to him. There was magic in the air. She wanted the magic to stay. He held the tip of her fingers, as if for support and came in closer. There was a second’s pause before their lips met and they became lovers in a night of magic passions.

She woke up to Yash staring worriedly at the red stains on the bedsheet, “Knock me over. You were a virgin? You are simply amazing, you know….for one. I must say you have more talent than just musical. Having to ask a second time in the span of a few hours…are you ok?” He winked at her flirtatiously. He picked up a tiny blue sachet lying on the floor and stashed the sheath he’d worn during their lovemaking into it, getting out of bed moving towards the bathroom. She whispered with just the hint of a smile as she looked up at him through her lashes, “That was simply wonderful. I am more than just ok.”

Over the breakfast that he ordered in, he asked, “So where next? What do want to do?” Surili answered, “I want to stay with you, could I stay here? I need some place to stay until I can find something of my own” His eyes knitted into a frown, “Well you can for sometime if you like….but….” He seemed unsure. “Is there something that is bothering you in letting me stay?” Surili enquired at the end of his trailing “but”.

“I know you wouldn’t think that way, but I prefer to spell it out so there is no confusion. I just hope that you do not think that last night gives you the right to anything in my life. You are the most beautiful thing I have ever seen and touched. You sing a man’s soul of him.  I feel I could so easily fall in love with you. Maybe I am in love with you already…but I don’t want for either of us to presume anything more out of just what happened at the spur of the moment. I hope you understand what I’m trying to say.” Surili’s eyes filled up with tears that threatened to drop, so she looked down to stem them. She didn’t want his pity. Last night was not spur of the moment for her. She had left all that she held dear to be with him…but then how was he to know that?  For him she was just a girl who’d run away from home and he’d been kind to. Her tears in control, she looked up and nodded, “No that’s not it. I am only appealing to your kindness to let me stay here for a while. I did not assume I have the right.” The frown cleared up as he smiled, “Ok…so I’m off then. I’ll probably drop by in the evening. Please use the day to figure out how you can get that singing career off the ground. You certainly got the potential. I’ll make a few calls as well to some contacts I have in Bollywood and talent management firms. Maybe they would have some ideas as well”

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