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Of Ships and Mermaids

By Debadrita Bose

“And he found himself at the coast” – thus went on the lines on the on the yellowish manuscript Toni had found on the floor of the lower deck the day before. Today, as he opened his eyes at dawn, he found himself alone, lying on an uninhabited coast, the parchments from the manuscript strewn across. He started reading.

All he could remember the previous night. The crowd around the jazz player. The rum glasses and the captain singing a hearty tune. Toni started humming and things became clearer. A beautiful brunette there was. She had followed Toni bare foot, to his cabin. When booze went high and thoughts of booty become myth, sailors indulge in sensual pleasures. Toni walked across the wetness of her limbs into the perfumes of another world. He did not know her name, her face, but her voice seemed to come from the other side of the equator and risking he went on skipping rabbit holes. Today he found himself in this island with no known escape route that led him to his ship.

Grandparents speak love
Of hemispheres turning round
In bits and pieces

Toni lit a fire as evening descended. In the warmth of the bonfire he saw an illusion coming to life. One white cruise sailing directly to him, answering his cry. The captain in soft muslin greeted him. No pirate calls, no war cries, only the warmth of ecstasy and barrels of liquor that submerged him into the fates of another world. Toni found the music and the blonde irresistible. For their rough sails the bunk seemed small. Her breath hold the promise of eternal glory. Then, like a destitute in warm blankets he slept on. Another morning dawned and Toni found himself and the musty old manuscript lying on the deserted beach of the island. This time he was sure of a time and space loop. He devised a different escape route.

Tailors lost and found
Pieces of historical cloth
In lands not known to men

When he had completed calculating the latitudes and longitudes and when the smell of the doldrums was intense Toni’s raft was afloat. He sailed towards the lights of the north and as winds changed their courses, he felt softness, tenderness, the scales bearing pungent odor. The tales of Mermaid had never worried any shipmen. They were symbols of good luck and in this case the mermaid bore the promise of fullness, of carnal bliss. Now, Toni is no one of the earthlings. He belonged to hibernation, scales and lustful power.

Waking up, Toni did not take time to realize that he was back on the island. Feeling lost and tired, he did not even think of devising an escape, he took up the yellowish parchments he had found on the floor of the lower deck and started reading. It went on.. ”Again Toni was back on the deserted island.”

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