The story has some explicit contents and graphic details. Along with nudity and profanity. Reader discretion recommended.
Men in Paradise - 27. Chapter 27 - The Fall
The word "coco" is a Portuguese word from the 16th century that means "head" or "skull" in reference to the three indentations on the coconut shell that resemble facial features. The Austronesian peoples of Island Southeast Asia were the first to domesticate coconuts, and they expanded its use throughout the Neolithic era by migrating by sea as far east as the Pacific Islands and as far west as Madagascar and the Comoros. They were essential in helping Austronesians on their lengthy sea travels by offering a portable source of food and water as well as supplies for building outrigger boats. In the past, seafarers from South Asia, the Middle East, and Europe spread coconuts over the Atlantic and Indian Ocean coasts. Yet, there is evidence that suggests Austronesian mariners may have brought Pacific coconuts to Panama prior to the arrival of European explorers during the colonial era in the Columbian exchange. There is debate over the coconut's evolutionary history, with theories claiming that it may have originated on Pacific islands, in South America, or in Asia. 75% of the world's coconuts are produced in Indonesia, the Philippines, and India.
I am setting my song on fire
It smokes loud and clear
Like burning flames
Let my love engulf you
When cold wind blows
And whispers stops
Listen to my silence
I am setting my song on fire
Loud and clear.
Thick orange flames rose above the furnace top. Bright red coals burning was trying hard to keep their lives alive. I pumped even harder, and it burnt even more furiously. My eyes were fixed on the furnace, my thoughts were scattered everywhere.
The Previous night, I had a wild dream, a giant boar was chasing me in the forest and it followed me till the water stream. I was running for my life and Justin caught me out of nowhere. He shouted at the boar and started running in the opposite direction and the boar followed him. He diverted the boar to save me. But the boar was too fast and furious enough to get hold of him. And I witnessed it hit him right in the middle of his abdomen with its head and threw him into the stream. I screamed for help and dived into the stream to hold his bleeding lifeless body. The dream was so horrific and real, I woke up from the bed with soaked sweat.
For real, it made me realize the true nature of the wild boar incident a couple of weeks before. It was a moment of life or death, I could have lost him to that wild animal, you know. Those flashbacks kept returning to my mind, which made me feel anguished and helpless.
What would I do on that island without him? He jumped in and interrupted to save me from that animal? He was ready to sacrifice for me. Who would do that? How long would we be able to survive on that island surrounded by dangers and every day has a life-or-death moment?
Those thoughts have been running left and right in my mind ever since that wild boar incident. But I kept it within myself and mingled with others by trying to erase that memory. But the dream I had on the previous night was a wakeup call once again.
I saw Sakthi approaching me.
"Hey dude, aren't you joining us for lunch?" He asked me.
"You guys carry on, I am not hungry now" I told him.
He gave me a long and hard stare as if trying to read my mind.
"You have been sitting on this furnace since morning, what's wrong?" He asked me with concern.
I looked at him for a second and then said "Nothing."
I didn't think he believed me. He came even nearer and sat next to me.
"What's wrong, you have been super quiet the last two days, you can tell me, right?" He asked me.
I didn't think he would let me go if I didn't talk to him. So, I said.
"He could have died there, you know" I was angry, and I didn't know why.
He looked back at me, clueless of what I was talking about. It seemed to me that the entire gang had forgotten that wild boar incident and moved on except me, when I was hanging on to that memory and dealing with horrific dreams.
"We all would have died in that plane crash, but we didn't. The four of us survived, unlike the rest of the 500 passengers on that flight" He paused for a moment, and I saw him staring at the flames. Seriously, was that his response to what I was going through at that time?
And then he continued "But we didn't, we survived. If we found a way to go back home, we would have gone back by now" Sakthi said as if he read my mind.
"We can at least try. Build a boat and leave this island” I asked him.
He didn't reply to that straight away, he was silent again. I didn't know what was on his mind, it was always difficult to read Sakthi. He was a man of few words and hardly let his emotions out.
"There are things I am not sure about sailing in the sea and finding our way back home, but" He paused once again and then said.
"If that's what you want, we will do that, we will start building the boat from tomorrow and leave in five days".
And then he continued "But remember the risks involved and don't tell me I didn't warn you. None of us have ever sailed before, we don't know how to navigate in the sea. As we have noticed, the currents are too strong, and this island is far away from human habited lands. Adding to that, we must not forget the storms and heavy winds once we reach the middle of the sea. We could easily get lost. But, as you said, we should give it a try, we can't be forever stuck in this no man's land, so let's set a date to sail".
That convinced me. 'Finally, we are going home or at least going to give it a try.
Sakthi always had his way of talking to people like a real matured person. It was great to have him in the gang and as our leader. We went and joined the rest of the guys for lunch. Sakthi didn't speak much. I was my usual self, trying to get into conversations.
That night Sakthi made the announcement to the guys. I was not sure if they liked the idea, they didn't jump or clap their hands. They just sat there listening to Sakthi. I was sure they were scared of sailing too, the sea and its dangers. But, they participated in our planning to sail.
That evening I went for a run with Justin on the beach, after a mile or so, he pulled on my shoulders and stopped me from running.
"I know you are terrified because of the boar incident, is that why you wanted to try sailing and leave this island?" He asked me.
"You could have died there, i could have died and we don't know what will happen tomorrow on this island, we don't know how many more such dangers are here. And I certainly miss my family and friends. So Yes, I want to go back home" I told him stubbornly.
"What if we couldn't find a way to navigate the boat? What if we couldn't find any nearby human habitat? What if we die in the middle of the sea? What if we run out of water and food? What if there is a storm or shark or whatever?" He asked me multiple questions, trying to pass on his fears about sailing to me.
"I don't care, I either die here on this deserted island or die in the middle of the ocean, at least I want to try before I die" I told him boldly.
Yep, my mind was made up.
"How about us?" Justin asked me.
I lifted my head and looked at him. His deep blue eyes were so mesmerizing, I felt I was losing in it. But I recovered within a few seconds and steadied myself.
"What about us?" I have asked him just to make sure that he says what I wanted to hear.
He looked at me, I saw his pretty face shining bright in the setting sun. There was so much love and care in his eyes and the way he looked at me.
"Nothing is going to change between us even if we go back home" I told him with certainty.
I wasn't sure if he bought that, but he shook his head and then said "Ok, let's do it".
And then finished the conversation by saying " Let's build the boat".
I didn't know if that made me really happy. Kind of like a mixed feeling then, leaving that beautiful island forever, chances of getting separated from Justin and probably never seeing him in my life once I return home and go back to the real world.
Next few days were extremely busy. I kept all my fears and doubts aside about leaving that island and focused on building the boat. We came up with a diagram resembling a boat which we wanted to build and did some calculations for its measurements. We needed a lot of wood, strong ones. Justin identified some trees which he thought are good ones for a boat. Sakthi and I started cutting them and brought the wood back to the shelter. It took nearly four days.
Meanwhile Jai spent most days climbing coconut trees and collecting as many coir as possible, he wanted to make fiber coir rope to tie the woods for the boat. He hardly spoke to anyone on those days and silently made the rope. I wondered what was running through his mind.
The mood in the island was eerie and serene on those days. Every night I go to bed, I always feel that something bad is about to happen. Justin looked like he was living the last days of his life, his goofy beautiful smile disappeared from his face.
One night, we sat and had a lengthy discussion after our dinner. The discussion centered around our preparations for leaving and what needed to be done. As usual, Sakthi was leading the pack.
“We need more rope, this isn’t enough. We need them for anchoring and also to tie our food materials” Sakthi told Jai who was sitting there silently without uttering a single word until then, as if he suddenly woke up from sleep, he looked at Sakthi and replied,
“There aren’t enough coconut trees left for me to collect coir anymore, this is all I have got” his tone was unenthusiastic and kind of sad.
Sakthi turned his head and started staring at the bonfire in front of us, he was immersed in his own thoughts.
Justin interrupted his thoughts and said “I found a few vine plants; we can use its tendrils to make the rope. They are flexible like fiber and won’t break easily”.
Sakthi gave him a wry smile and said “Sounds great, then you and Jai collect them and make the rope, we need a lot.”
I noticed one of our pigs is crawling below the wood shelf we built to dry fish. I need to get the pig back to its shelter. And that reminded me to ask,
“What are we going to do with the wolves, chickens, pigs and goats, are we going to abandon them here?”
In response, everybody looked at me as if I committed a crime. I didn’t think any of them really wanted to leave this island, but they are doing it for the sake of doing it or whatever.
Sakthi replied “We will take as many as the boat can afford but the rest, we have to leave them here”.
The reality of leaving everything behind, especially our animals, our shelter, our farms, our food storage and that beautiful island dawned on us. Getting back to the real world filled with electronic gadgets, currency notes and expectations from our loved ones wouldn’t be easy. For several months Paradise Island has given them a new life and a new beginning. But things had to change and we needed to face it.
Until then we never even imagined that fate had a different plan for the survivors of Paradise Island.
I am publishing my story here on experimental basis. Readers feedback and comments are most welcome
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