It was a lazy summer evening in a sleepy hamlet of fishermen’s folks. I found Ramu, a 5.10 feet tall, “all skin and grief sea man in his early 40’s sobbing his heart out inconsolably while digging the grave himself. ‘’Whole night she was looking at me as if she wants to say something, I should have kept her alive’’. His shovel slipped from his sweaty palms and his shrill laments must have opened the doors of heaven.
Such unconditional love, I felt sorry for Ramu more than the departed one.
‘’people are selfish even when someone is dead, bloody monsters’’, storming at the mischievous kids gathered around while placing the last stone on her grave.
The eternal silence of tombstones reminds us about the transience of life we are glued to against all odds. A gorgeous life is over. We don’t see it coming from anywhere. Is it not a well-kept secret of our selective memory? It’s so obvious; still we continue climbing up a descending escalator.
A night jasmine fell over the tombstone after its fleeting bloom leaving an enchanting memory that could last a life time. What makes the jasmine bloom so precious is its death.
It was just another evening on the beach. I could see the crimson sun, retreating. The kids were going up and down with the ebb and flow of the tides and thousands of tiny crabs were following the waves swimming, hopping and crawling around.
One of the troublesome kids was spotted with a fork and knife, another one was holding a scissor. Without any cast of guilt and with the precision of a surgeon, they were cutting and clearing the small swimming legs, claws and carapace of the baby crabs that would decorate the steps of the Mermaid Sandcastle they have marvelously engineered in sand. They have captured two gigantic mud crabs, wired their claws and placed them outside like guards to the castle.
‘’The magical mermaid castle’’- kids were screaming the name of the castle they proudly built on their own like a war whoop.
Suddenly screams of excitement were thundering the beach boulevard. They went hysterical about something that held their breath.
Oh my god! My goodness! My heavens! Never seen such a striking beauty-exclamations of delight everywhere.
She was an extra-large exquisite olive ridley sea turtle washed up on the varkala beach weighing around 100 pounds (45 kilograms) .Her green heart shaped shell was two feet long and too small to cover her naked olive skin .She was lonely, tired, vulnerable and crawling too slow as if every step adds to her torment.
She could read the spell she had on the exhilarated crowd that was encircling her but was too fragile to reciprocate. Her big, colorful, mesmerizing eyes were shutting down .She has given a resigned look to ramu and leaned towards him and collapsed.
Suddenly she twitched herself in pain. The vexatious kids were slicing the turtle shell with a paring knife to make the gates for their castle. Ramu pushed them apart; sat near the damsel in distress gazing at her with eyes welled up with compassion. His long working hours in the sea made him a tough human being. His heart is as vast as the ocean; his eyes captured its depth; his body the smell and his ears the sound.
He instantly wrapped her in a cloth to give her maximum warmth and also cleaned away the shrimps stuck on her. He then galloped to Doctor’s, a clinic run by Dr.Stella White near to the promenade.
‘’Doctor, this time, a dying turtle. Though the doctor is not a vet, she never says no to save a life that is priceless. Finding herself in the evening twilight of life all alone, Dr.Stella White, a 60ish Canadian expat, who landed here co-incidentally to a place which was not on her itinerary ten years back has fallen in love deeply with the place and the people never to be returned. Her doors are like the doors of heaven and open to the villagers at any time of the day or night.
He rushed to the site clearing way for the doctor .Doctor felt the glassy eyes and fragile shell of her patient. The strangulation marks and the sharp abrasions on her body has spoken volumes about her solitary sojourns. She must have got knocked down by a trawling boat propeller.
She was looking for a muscle to inject the beauty, pricked the skin with the needle and injected a heavy dose of antibiotic with a desperate attempt to rescue her. While the doctor was giving the shots, ramu held her steady. Her eyes were swollen, her neck wobbling and shell bleeding.
‘’If she survive the night, she’ll be fine, let’s see’’.Ramu thanked the doctor and stayed up whole night diligently keeping her warm like a father guarding a child. He kept small portions of earthworms next to her just in case she opens her eyes and craves for food. He was praying to Janardana Swami, the protecting deity of the village to let her pull through the night.
He wasn’t sure when the dawn broke in; he slipped to deep sleep somewhere around
2 AM being cuddled by the sea breeze. What had woken him up was the soft whisper of the doctor, ‘’she is gone’’.
Ramu looked at her olive beauty in disbelief. Her body was stiff but serene. She found her quantum of tranquility in the sands of papanasham beach. Her buried secret remained hidden from the rest of the world if not for the fallen night jasmine on top of the mount. Hundreds of pelicans lined up the shore without fluttering wings to pay their last homage to this sleeping beauty. ‘’I should have kept her alive’’, ‘’I should have kept her alive’’- Ramu’s words were lingering in the breeze along with the mild fragrance of the night jasmine.