The story has some explicit contents and graphic details. Along with nudity and profanity. Reader discretion recommended.
Men in Paradise - 7. Chapter 7 - The Shelter
A hut or shelter is a primitive dwelling that can be built from different local materials, such as wood, bamboo, clay or stones. Early human stayed mostly in the caves. But later Huts and shelters have been found in drawings of Tagar culture petroglyphs from the 1st millennium BC in Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia. We do not know what made human to move from caves and build huts to live. Huts and a larger building in the shape of burial urns belonging to 15,000 years ago were discovered at the Baths of Diocletian in Rome. In nearly all nomadic societies, huts exist. Some huts are transportable and can withstand most weather conditions.
It was the day after Christmas 2004 when Tsunami hit our place, I was just four years old. Staying at Nagarkoil, a town 300 miles away from home, visiting my aunt's place for the holidays. She woke me up at 9 am and told me we had to leave the place.
My Mom who was sleeping next to me shouted and screamed, I was clueless about what was happening then, but like any other living being my human instinct kicked in and I knew there was a danger on its way. I am not able to remember what happened after that, except stories which were later told by my parents.
Cyclones and Storms were not new to me, I lived very close to the coastal area which is prone to Cyclones. I have witnessed it several times. I knew what it could do, the damages it could cause and the destruction it will leave behind.
So I realized, we need to build a shelter on the island before the cyclone hits our shore. But what we had were a small knife and three nail cutters to cut the wood. We had no tools to build a shelter neither had any prior experience.
On another day, I would have laughed at our helpless state. But we understood the reality and we knew we had to deal with it.
Sakthi went and looked for something, among the broken parts and pieces of the plane in the rocks. He brought a metal rod and a tiny square-shaped plate. It took forever for us to chop down a few bamboo trees. I went and brought down dried coconut branches that were fell from the trees.
That's when I saw Afridi running towards us followed by Justin. Afridi was sweating all over. His Yellowish face looked as terrified as if he saw a ghost.
Sakthi held his hands and stopped him from shivering. Afridi was breathing heavier.
There was no response from Afridi, he tried to calm his nerves. By that time, Justin answered on his behalf of him.
"We saw a snake at the banana plantation"
Well, it wasn't like we weren't expecting snakes on this island. It was covered by bushes on a tropical island, it's no wonder snakes living in it. I was not afraid of snakes much, I have seen them many times in our grandparent's village since childhood.
"Let's avoid it and watch our steps here. That's all we could do at this time".
Sakthi told Afridi " You need to overcome your fear against the snake. That's how we can survive here. You can't allow a tiny brainless insect to scare you"
First of all, I didn't think a snake is an insect, second I wasn't sure if it has no brains. But my points were irrelevant at that time, so I kept quiet.
I didn't know if Afridi was somehow convinced of it, but he stayed quiet that afternoon. To divert his attention, I asked him to check all the luggage to find if there any items useful for our survival there. I had been wanting to do an inventory for the last two days, but too lazy to begin it.
Justin asked me to start the fire and he sat down to make more clay pots. By that time, I became an expert in primitive style fire-making. I added some more dried woods to keep the fire going.
Sakthi drew a design of the shelter on the sand he wanted to build so that we will know where and how to place the woods. I taught Afridi how to make coir thread out of coconuts since we needed as much thread as possible to tie the woods.
First, Sakthi planted four corner bamboo wood of the same size as a rectangle in shape for the structure. Then we placed bamboo woods vertically to connect the top edges of those planted woods. Then we planted bamboo woods to cover the 3 sides of our shelter structure leaving one side open facing the shore. There were gaps in between and I was worried water might leak inside when it rains. Sakthi said we will worry about it later. I chopped the bamboo woods into two and Sakthi placed it on top as a roof, he tied all the woods tightly using the thread Afridi and I made sure that the structure could remain strong despite strong winds and rainfall.
I went and brought few more coconut branches and ties them sideways and placed them on the roof. Then Sakthi brought all the broken parts of the plane and made a plate-like structure using his strong hands, we placed it on top of our roof above the coconut branches to make sure rainwater doesn't pour through the gaps.
We used the remaining parts of the plane particularly its back wings to cover our front portion, we just tied its one end so that we could open the shelter from the front whenever required. Afridi had been assigned to bring all three airbags and place them inside our shelter to make a bed.
It took nearly six hours and three persons to finish building it. The shelter was not bad either, it could be sufficient for our temporary stay and accommodate four of us, there would be some storage place left to keep all the luggage, containers, and items we have gathered.
By the time we finished building the temporary shelter, Justin also made some progress in his pot making. I wasn't sure if I should call them pots, it's more of like a cylinder in shape, but that would suffice to boil the rice anyways, he also made 3 more big sized cups, he burnt them on the fire to make it stronger. Sakthi, Justin, and I went to the stream to wash and fetch some more water in the polythene bags I found inside the luggage. Afridi refused to join us fearful of the snake he saw earlier.
Sakthi and I removed our clothes and washed our bodies in the water stream, when the rest of the guys hardly bathed since we arrived here, I made it a habit to take bath every evening in the stream. It relaxed me a lot and provided me the sleep I needed that night.
After we finished taking bath, each one of us took a thick wooden rod and decided to examine the snake that they have seen earlier. Justin took us across the banana plantation and then shown us a tree plant that had dark brown fruits hanging all over it. There wasn't any snake in it though. It must have run away after it saw Afridi's hairstyle.
With his biological knowledge, Justin informed us that Snakes don't prey upon humans, it generally avoids anywhere near them. That was relief news. I asked Justin to share that information with Afridi to relax him a bit. I plucked a few dark fruits from that tree and kept them in my lady's handbag. We returned to the cabin to find Afridi doing an inventory of our resources from the luggage.
He found a toolbox, a bag full of spices, pickles, a camera, a torch, steel trays, leather belts, video games, books, a tablet, phone chargers, silk sarees, a blanket, curd, tomato and chili sauce bottles, half kilogram tea and milk powder and a bag full of more brown rice and barleys. And plenty of clothes. I knew there were plenty of people from my state on that plane, someone must have brought all those brown rice, chips, and pickles for their stay in the US I knew those items are hard to get in the US.
We decided to do fishing that evening before it gets too dark. A fish trap was not enough, so we made a couple of bamboo spears and went to the sea. After an hour, we found a big fish as large as my arm's length. When we returned from the shore, Sakthi washed the pots, poured rice and water in them, and kept it on the fire to cook. Earlier I asked Afridi to collect a couple of big stones to make it like a stove and kept wood in between which helped Sakthi to keep the pot balanced for heating.
We could see the dark clouds moving closer to the shore, we understood it might rain anytime soon. We ate boiled rice served in our banana leaves and ate it along with the fried fish mixed with tomato and chili sauce. It was a wonderful meal indeed.
When we felt cold wind whisked through us, we decided to get inside the shelter and lock ourselves in. Afridi and I brought the cabin inside and collected all the luggage and kept it in a corner. While Justin brought all the water packets, bananas, leaves, and coconuts inside. Sakthi went out to check the shelter once again to make sure there are no gaps on its sides or roof so that rainwater doesn't get inside.
Justin tore open one side of the airbag to provide much room and make it one big bed for all four of us. I laid myself between Sakthi and Afridi. We put the big blanket to cover all of us. I held a couple of sarees with me just in case if it gets too cold.
It was almost 9 pm, I checked my wristwatch. Days were shorter and nights were longer on that tropical island. It was too dark outside, and I could only hear the frogs and other insects screeching on top of its lungs. I have also heard several wolves howling from the forest. The noise was terrifying, I knew these were the signs of the storm coming further closer to our shore.
Afridi was lying in bed next to me as usual. His body was cold and I knew he was not taking it well. It was weird lying that close to another boy, but by that time I got used to that anyway.
For some odd reason, Afridi had always been a very touchy kid. I presumed that Arabs are generally very touchy, but I wasn't sure though, I didn't want to be prejudiced based on race.
"Have you ever seen a cyclone before?" I asked Afridi.
"Nope" He shook his head vigorously making it clear to me.
"I figured that," I told him mockingly.
He raised his thick eyebrows and asked "Like how?"
"Since you are from the Middle East, I don't think there won't be any cyclones in a desert, right?" I replied to him.
He gave me a stare for a few seconds and then said "I wasn't living in a desert, I am from Dubai, it's a city surrounded by sea, you know" He snapped.
I was not sure if I should respond to that. That was so naive of me to say that to him. Hence I kept quiet and turned towards Sakthi on the bed.
Within a few minutes, it started raining, when the wood fire was put off by the rainfall outside, we switched on a couple of mobile phones flashlights which still had some battery left in it. Sakthi also held the torch that Afridi found earlier but he barely used it that night.
It started raining heavily. Raindrops fell on our roof and made sound from the plane metal plates over us. But fortunately, there was little rainwater got inside. The wind whistled down and made a surrounding sound. Waves were high hitting the shore vigorously than ever before.
I felt like I had witnessed a cyclone in an open space. It was the scariest thing I have ever seen in my life.
I held my one hand around Sakthi's arm. He had those bulging biceps with plenty of muscles that provided me warmth and comfort.
"Don't worry, we are safe, we will get through this together" Sakthi whispered into my ear as if he will disturb the non-existent peace in the area with his voice.
I held him even tighter and closed my eyes.
When you were surrounded by unknown dangers and uncertainty which could break even the strongest person on earth. It requires some sort of support, it could be in the form of a human connection or a faith in god or scientific knowledge or whatever.
Hey, I was just a teenager. I was afraid and I had no idea when it would break me.
I figured neither Afridi nor Justin slept either. They were holding each other too for comfort.
"What are we going to do?" Afridi asked him frightened of the cyclone.
We understood his question better, it wasn't just about the cyclone alone, but our overall situation on this island was fearsome.
"I don't know" Justin replied to him and then put his arms over him and drew him closer to his body and said "If you don't mind" in his tone of excuse.
"Hmm, No" I heard Afridi murmuring to him with his husky voice.
Another strong wind blew over our shelter. It lasted for more than an hour, it made a whistle like sound which scared me more than the wind itself. As I said earlier, I have witnessed many cyclones but the cyclone I saw that day on that island was something I have never seen before. The Minute when the wind stopped, it started raining, it began as drizzle and then rainwater was pouring on the roof of our shelter and made a noise that I never heard before.
I was not sure when our roof will break down and leave the rainwater to get inside.
Thunderstorms and lightning strikes were one of the most lethal killers on that island. Moments later both rain and wind were storming our shelter at the same time. That night, wind gusted over the island at a speed that I couldn’t measure and the trees around us started rattling with more intensity, like they do in a horror film before the interval when we were completely trapped from all sides in a dark.
"You can hug me too if you want" Sakthi whispered again.
Well, I needed that too. Thus, I obliged without any hesitation.
Male affection that night crossed a boundary indeed. We needed that. Otherwise, in the real world, I don't think we would be doing anything with a stranger that too with another guy. Some sort of physical bonding was essential for our survival or at least I thought. But then some situations don't require logic neither rules, just pure care and support was all it needed to provide human connection for comfort that we desperately longed that night.
I am publishing my story here on experimental basis. Readers feedback and comments are most welcome
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