I am a travel freak and always travelled to different places with my family when I was young.
We often took a flight and sometimes travelled by train. But going to destinations on a boat or ship was on my bucket list for a while.
After graduating in Software engineering, I got placed in one of the best IT companies, and my corporate journey began.
Two years down the lane, I decided to tick off my wish of a solo trip by sea from my bucket list.
Initially, my parents opposed my idea, but I managed to convince them and finally, they gave their consent.
The next step was to carefully plan my trip with the help of friends who had been on such trips earlier. They gave me good tips, and I drew a final plan accordingly.
It was 26th October 1999. A lovely spring morning. The sun shone brightly in the rapture-blue sky, a continuum of delight that salves both spirit and soul. Beautiful fluffy clouds drifted across the sky.
I quickly jumped out of bed and got ready for my long overdue solo trip to the Maldives. Joy bubbled up inside me as this was my first trip by cruise boat.
A backpack and a trolley bag were the only luggage that I planned to carry.
I wore casual light blue jeans and a high-neck mustard colour t-shirt, a dangling blue colour earring that matched my jeans and tied my hair back into a neat ponytail.
I booked a cab and reached the port. Passengers were waiting with their luggage.
The red and white boat parked at the dock looked pretty. The boarding began sharp at 11 a.m.
All the passengers started getting in. There were some eighty-six passengers on board.
Everyone settled down. The Helmsmanof the boat began the journey. I was thoroughly enjoying the ride. We were in the middle of the sea, and this experience was breath-taking. The waves were crawling gently.
The evening turned cool and breezy. A strong gust of wind blew against my face. I felt effervescent.
Soon the sun sunk below the horizon, and the silver-white moon hung in the limitless sky like a puppet on a string. It all appeared like some dream.
It was 28th October. We have all been sitting in the boat for the last 48 hours. Suddenly it started raining heavily. An inevitable high tide hit, and the sea swelled.
The Helmsman tried to move through stormy seas but couldn’t. The storm continued to rage, and the boat finally plunged into nothingness. The sea claimed the passengers aboard. The adventure turned into a nightmare.
I could only hear the yells of people around me. They were louder than the waves and storms. The screaming voices faded away as the water closed over us.
I woke up with a start and felt a great pang of grief washed over me. Tears pooled in my eyes. I wondered what had happened to others. But I realized I was alive, breathing. I thanked the Lord for the blessings he bestowed on my life. I raised my head to look around but could see nothing except the vast sea.
There was no option left but to swim. I gradually started swimming. From nowhere, I saw a big wooden plank floating. I moved faster, and when I was about to hold the edge, I saw a man reaching out for the same plank, and we wordlessly helped each other to climb up the plank.
We were the only survivors of the wreck. The Wooden plank sluggishly transported us to an uninhabited island. Not a single soul was visible except for a few birds that were flying overhead.
I nearly fell over after tripping over a large stone. However, the man who stood by my side grabbed my hand quickly and prevented me from getting hurt.
I thanked him profusely and introduced myself. In response, he smiled and introduced himself as Glen, a Marine Engineer. He was also on a vacation trip.
“Ah, you are a marine Engineer. Nice to meet you, Glen.” I said, and we exchanged smiles again.
“Ankita, we can’t be stuck over her forever. We need to do something,” he said and looked at his phone.
“Oh God, my phone is drenched in water and spoiled. Is your phone working?” Glen inquired.
“No, Glen. I was holding my phone in my hand, which caused it to drown in water.” I replied dejectedly.
There was no way we could contact anyone. The place, too, was jet black adding to our trouble.
The only thing we had with us was our backpacks slung over our shoulders. Glen suddenly remembered carrying a laminated map and a waterproof compass. He lowered the bag from his shoulder and took them out.
We looked for the island on the map but were unsuccessful. The compass lost its magnetism and was now useless. The place looked ghostly with no signs of life.
However, there was an abandoned house. We carefully opened the door, and it creaked.
We stepped in. Sticky cobwebs were hanging around the place, and it was inky black.
Glen bumped into something sharp and hurt his leg. I told him to remain still and not budge.
Luckily I had carried a torch wrapped in plastic. It was safe, and I could make good use of it. I lit the torch and looked down.
An old abandoned cot was lying in the middle of the compact space that hurt Glen. I advised him to sit on the cot for a while though he said he was fine. I then flashed the torchlight around.
A few crockeries were lying on the floor. I picked them up and placed them in one corner.
We both stood there perplexed and unsure of what to do. We were at a loss for words.
The cot was relatively usable. Hence Glen suggested we go to bed and come up with a solution the following day.
He asked me to sleep on the cot while he would rest on the floor.
But I was not sure if the cot could take my weight. I slowly squatted on it. I felt safe.
We had no spare clothes, and our current ones were damp. My gaze suddenly landed on a corner table. A few pairs of mixed garments were lying covered in dust.
We felt relieved because otherwise, we would have had to sleep in our drenched clothes.
Even though they were an odd fit, we cleaned the dust off the clothing and donned them.
My heart raced fast. I felt uncomfortable sharing the room with a stranger. But did I have a choice? He looked decent, but how can I trust someone I don’t know?
I brushed all my thoughts aside and lay on the cot while Glen lay on the cold floor.
The cot wasn’t comfortable. I was turning sides and couldn’t sleep. At one point, I considered folding the cot, putting it aside, and sleeping on the floor next to Glen. But the next minute, my heart and brain said NO in unison.
I saw Glen struggling to sleep on the floor. I asked him to take the cot, and he immediately agreed, and we swiftly exchanged places.
The floor was cold. No wonder Glen couldn’t sleep, I thought and tried to sleep, but every muscle in my body started to ache.
Glen was a meticulous person. He saw I was still awake and suggested we share the cot.
“Sharing the room itself is uncomfortable, and now share the bed. How can I?” I thought and did not move.
“Ankita, I know what is going on in your mind. Don’t worry, and come up on the cot. You will fall sick otherwise,” Glen said, laced with care.
His words soothed my heart, and something from inside said, ‘Go ahead.’ I shared the cot with him, and we managed to spend the night.
When we opened our eyes the following morning, it was still raining. Hence we could collect some fresh water to drink. For food, we had no choice but to eat fish. But raw fish? Yach! I cannot even stand the smell of it. How will I ever eat them?
Just then, the rain stopped. The storm clouds drifted away, and the sun broke through. It brought smiles to our faces.
We went out and looked around the surroundings. We started walking through the dense forest to collect dry woods and found a few.
We lit up a fire using some of the woods and a spark by rubbing two rugged stones after several false starts. We roasted the fish on the naked fire. We stored the rest of the wood for the night, hoping we would not need them and find our way back home.
We did not know the exact time but guessed it was afternoon. I was cooking our meal when Glen said, “Ankita, since I am a marine engineer, I think I should try to build a small boat if we need to return. How long will we be stranded here without proper food and sleep?”
“But it will take days, and where do we have the material?” I said.
“Yes, you are right, Ankita, but do we have a choice? We will have to find materials in this forest or in and around the island. We will also watch for ships that may pass from here.” Glen replied.
I heaved a sigh and agreed.
The sun went back to its abode, and the place turned dark. There was no sign of any ships or anyone coming in search of us. We ended up staying one more day on the deserted island.
We built a fire in the fireplace in the house at night. I was now comfortable with Glen. He seemed to be a caring gentleman.
We again had the same food for dinner and sat down gazing at the sea. The fish were playing and jumping in the water.
The following morning, we went around the island looking for materials to build a boat.
“We shall need a lot of wood and vine for lashing, so scavenge as much as you can. Also, look out for bamboo. It is the best material as the hollow stems of bamboo are filled with air, making it considerably buoyant compared to other types of wood.” Glen said.
“Yes, sure, Glen,” I replied and followed his instructions as I had no idea about the woods and other stuff required to construct a boat.
As I moved ahead in search of bamboo, I found a small pond filled with clear water. I called out for Glen, showed him the pond and said excitedly, “We can freshen up here.”
“Good. I also saw some fruits lying on the ground. We can pick them up. Instead of eating fish, we can consume fruits.” Glen suggested.
We came back with all that we could collect. Glen immediately started working on building a boat, and I helped him in whatever way I could.
I also thought we should break the rusted cot and use the material to build a boat.
But Glen disagreed with my suggestion only because he didn’t want me to sleep on the cold floor. His kindness touched my heart.
I was sitting around and twiddling my thumb while hoping for a random ship to pass by and notice us.
The universe heard, and we spotted a ship. Glen was 5.9 ft. tall. He waved both of his hands. I joined him, but the vessel was still at a distance.
We did not lose hope and continued to wave. I had a bright orange scarf in my backpack that I pulled out and started waving. But no one noticed.
Another idea struck me. I piled up all the woods we had collected that morning and lit them. The smoke from the roaring fire drew the attention of the captain and lifeguards of the ship.
The boat started moving closer. We screamed for help.
The captain noticed us and stopped close to the shore of the island. Both of us jumped with joy and wrapped ourselves in a tight hug. We gathered our bags hurriedly and boarded the ship.
The moment I hugged him, I felt a current running through my body. Something that I never experienced earlier. My heart skipped a beat. Oh God, is this love or just a crush? My mind raced, and I chuckled silently to myself.
We asked if they found any other passengers from the wrecked boat, but they shook their heads. Only we two were blessed with a new life and were grateful to the almighty.
The authorities informed our parents. They came to the port to receive us. Glen and I had mixed emotions when we bid Goodbye to each other. We felt happy to return home but sad to part ways.
We exchanged contact numbers and parted with a promise to meet soon. (Not on an uninhabited island but where people stayed, I thought and grinned inwardly)
My parent’s happiness was indescribable when they saw me back home.
My eyes misted over, and the words stuck in my throat. I took a deep breath and described the heart-wrenching story to my parents before I hit the soft bed to sleep peacefully.
One look at my bed and I pounced on it in glee! How I missed its softness but wait! Something was missing.
In bed, I tossed and turned. Why did I feel so uncomfortable? My mind went back to that old cot on the island. “Glen…” my heart whispered.
I missed his presence, his smell. I tried to push his thoughts away to go to sleep, but thoughts of him kept me awake. Am I in love, or is this just infatuation? I was confused. I closed my eyes again and tried to doze off.
My phone chimed. I woke up with a jolt and looked at the screen. It was Glen’s number. I quickly sat on the bed and answered his call. There was excitement in my voice. I was not feeling tired anymore.
“Hey, Hi Glen. Not slept yet?” I asked
“No, Ankita. I was thinking about you. I-i-i wanted to say something,” Gen stuttered.
“Yes, please. Go ahead.” I replied softly.
“I know we were together for a short while, but I cannot get you off my head. I think I am in love with you. It’s ok if you don’t have any feelings. We can still be friends forever.” Glen completed the sentence in one go.
My happiness knew no bounds. I got a clear answer to the questions that troubled me all this while.
“Glen, I, too, have the same feelings for you. But, I feel we should meet a couple of times before we take this relationship to the next level.” I suggested.
“Yes, Ankita, you are right,” Glen said happily.
We started meeting up frequently at cafes and restaurants.
Within a short while, I realized Glen was caring, understanding and had high regard for women. In short a perfect gentleman. Undoubtedly I was in love with Glen and wished to spend the rest of my life with him. I was the first one who decided to share this with my family.
“Mom, dad, I have something important to talk about,” I said.
“Mom, I am in love with Glen, and he, too, has the same feelings. He proposed to me a while ago.” I informed them with a smile.
“He is a catholic. Their food and culture are different from ours. How are you going to manage?” Dad questioned, laced with concern.
“Yes, dad, I understand your concern, but things will fall in place when the journey begins. I am pretty sure I can manage.” I replied.
“Okkk. But we don’t know much about Glen nor his family and their background.” My dad said.
“Dad, he is a marine engineer and a true gentleman. He will take good care of me. Maybe this was destined, and hence we crossed paths.” I tried to convince him.
“Ok. Invite Glen and his family home this weekend for dinner.” My father said.
I thanked my dad, sent Glen a message inviting him to come home, and retired to bed.
As planned, they arrived on the weekend. Glen was wearing smart casual and looked handsome.
The elders spoke for a while and agreed to our relationship. We soon got engaged. A few months later, we tied the knot.
Our close friends, with whom we had shared our story, gifted us a four-poster bed at our wedding, a permanent reminder of that dilapidated cot on the island.
I never believed in destiny until I came across Glen, a wonderful soul and the new life the deity gifted me.
I am happily married and blessed with a daughter whom we call “Angel.”
The boat journey, the abandoned house, the cot that put me to sleep, the surroundings, the forest, everything will stay in my memory for a long while.
A love story born on an uninhabited island took a beautiful turn forever.
Word count : 2858
Author : Sheela S. Iyer
Team : Ink Slingers (Mr Gopalkrishnan, Ms. Aarthi K, Ms. Pooja K. and Ms. Divya V.)
Prompt : Weave a story where the following objects play a pivotal role- A Cot and A Boat.
Prompt Proposed by: Team Wordsmiths Trailblazers
Picture Credit : Unsplash