12. What Do You Mean These Are Not My Cards To Play? – part 2

I said nothing and the next couple of days I spoke to no one.  I came out of the room just to wash and eat only when the stomach growled loud enough.

It was about the third or fourth day when I felt the need for a little human connection once more albeit quietly.  I never told anyone about Sonia, never revealed my intentions.

Nearly two weeks had come to pass and somewhere in that time, Hemma caught wind of my devastating experience.  She began sending notes to me with her little courier pigeons – I mean, her little brothers.

These little boys would come over to my house, I remember the first time, saying they just wanted to visit me.  Then the little one, he hands me a slip of paper and I looked at it curiously.  So I asked, ‘What is this?’

The other replied, “It’s a note for you from Hemma *didi!” they giggled.  They also explained that they were to wait for my scribbled reply, or not return home at all.  Maybe it was all in the name of chocolate or tasty ice blocks in return for the duty.

She wrote sympathetically and with apology for my sadness of heart though she never truly would know why.  Hemma wrote these little notes in Hindi, I replied in English -don’t know why I just did.  My ache was still so fresh upon my heart and in my mind.

It seemed her focus at that time was to encourage me to have lunch with her at her home and keep a line of communications open I expect.  What’s more, these notes began to show up every other day, by way of giggling pigeons of course.

It was about 8 or 10 days, I don’t remember exactly, before I agreed to come by for lunch with her …and it turns out that included her family members as well.  Ah well it makes sense right?  She’s still only fifteen.

The notes continued to flow and perhaps out of no other way to express her feelings, consisted often of lyrics from Hindi film songs.  Yes most of them are mushy so at this point, would it be safe to say, I suspect I am being romanced by this young girl?

And I have no doubt our families are mixed up in all of this.  I believe what I see of their intentions are crystal clear; they would have me married as soon as possible so that I do not ‘run-off’ again.

I didn’t take any of it seriously; Hemma never outright said she liked me or …whatever.  Very well, these little notes were just a passing of time although admittedly so, somewhat flattering.

I didn’t have important feelings for her as my heart was still preoccupied with a certain young lady in Canada whom I could only hope would forgive me.

Anyway I was looking to get myself back on that ship next time it returned to port; I knew it would, it always does!  I still didn’t know what happened at the docks that morning but I was willing to approach the skipper or whoever I had to, to find out and make things right.

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*didi – older sister (as Hindu respect for the elders, there are titles much like auntie or brother-in-law, for example: however a parent will call his daughter-in-law, say, by her title as such even though she is younger than the parent-in-law).

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Thanks so much for returning once again!  Still looking out for those comments, followers and likes.  And if he hasn’t already, Little Blue Masala can and will grow on you, just wait and see.  Stay tuned!

We’ve been getting buckets of rain here in most of California, how about you?  Happy Winter’s January!

12. What Do You Mean These Are Not My Cards To Play? – part 1

It wasn’t too long before I excused myself to retire.  The meal, the drinks, now the tea and conversation, oh I was done for.  Not to mention this ship worker’s early rise is just around the corner …Fiji is one of the first to be greeted by the new day you know.  The rest of the family followed suit and it was altogether dark and quiet.

No sooner was I wrapped up in a cozy little dream when the morning arrived.  It got here so fast that it awoke me with a start -perhaps a little of the forecasted excitement dancing around in my mind was involved too- and I popped up, much like a jack-in-the-box!  

Man, I gotta get to the harbor right now!  It was a good thing we arranged for a taxi the night before.  Wanting to awake everyone I called out, ‘It’s time for me to catch my ship!’

While I wasn’t late yet, there was zero time for tea and pleasantries, only wash, dress and hurried farewells to the household family members.  I grabbed my well-packed bag and three of us climbed into that waiting taxi just at the front of our house.  My mother and my brother were my escorts to see me off.

In only moments we arrived at port.  I quickly got out of the taxi and approached the docks …to my right-down disbelief I did not see the SS Lakemba where I left it; there was no bloody ship at all!  My bag dropped to the ground as my grasp of it fell away.

My heartbeat was pulsing heavy in my throat, racing up to my temples; it had already taken my heart hostage as my eyes looked out ahead to the mouth of the harbor.  There in the not-so distant distance was my ship on its way out, under the Harbormaster’s control.

What?!  I am still on time, am I not?  Why did it leave early?

I desperately looked around me for an answer and asked anyone who would respond if there was some way I could be taken out to that ship.  Much to my rapidly disintegrating once bubbling spirit, everyone had the same answer; only the Harbormaster could and he’s the one navigating the ship at present.

By the time he returns, the ship will be out in the open sea, as in too late.

Gravity won and I literally fell to my knees – a loud anguished cry escaped my 18 year-young man’s lips, “Oh my God, no!!”  As though I spent an eternity on the docks, I really felt so alone -it was like none of the people surrounding me were even there at all.

Finally coming to realize I couldn’t change what had just taken place, I picked myself up and walked to the cab which was waiting to take my brother and mother back home.  I had no desire to speak with anyone.

Through my tear-filled eyes it seemed the only thing I saw clearly was Sonia’s face and it devastated me because all I could contemplate is that she will probably think I wasn’t serious about coming back to her and maybe she’ll even start to feel that I just played her or who knows what.  How would I ever be able to tell her that’s not what happened?

Her precious image in my mind’s eye wore the look of the broken hearted.  I was convinced I saw the tears streaming down her beautiful face and then her expression turned to disbelief, then disappointment and lastly rejection.  I was punishing myself pretty royally over here.  

My brother must’ve picked up my bag from the dock before he and mother got into the taxi with me.  He placed it in the room when we got back to the house.  I expect he did not have a look inside because he never questioned the contents.  You can imagine the family’s surprise when I came back in through the door that very morning.  

I went straight into my room and laid down on my bed.  It was early still and the best thing for me at this point was shut-eye.  I awoke about lunchtime and thought of nothing else other than, I must write to her; what else could I possibly do?

Sonia, Sonia, Sonia.

You are still with me here in my heart.  I cannot do or think of anything else.  I feel heavy with grief and guilt and I see this situation is changing the course of both our futures.  The only thing I feel I am capable of doing at this time is write this letter to you.  I want to try and explain why I cannot be there by your side in a few weeks.   

Very simply this is what happened here in Fiji this very morning.  I arrived at the pier at the time I knew I should be there.  I am at the dock prepared to board my ship but there was no ship to board!  I saw it sailing through the harbor on its way back to Canada, without me, to you my dearest Sonia.

I can only blame myself because I did not know my ship would set sail half an hour early.  I overslept this morning; I missed the departure by thirty minutes; it was my fault Sonia.  

Once the ship is in Vancouver, I expect the guys with whom you saw me with at the club will hopefully go in there again, see you and confirm what I am telling you here is the truth.  They would only realize that I must not have known about the change in the schedule of departure and of course my friends have no idea of our plans to elope.

But I love you Sonia and if my love is genuine, then surely we will meet again sometime, somewhere and I hope it is in this lifetime.  I truly love you so very much.  Those four days we spent together were the happiest single moments, that I cannot recall happier days in my life.  Being near you was like heaven.’

I then took this letter to our post office and mailed it with lots of pretty stamps.  The only address I had to send it to was in care of the club and then hope for the best.

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11. Think Happy Thoughts!!

Port of Suva arrival and naturally my family is there waiting for me.  And as the time before, I stay at home only to report to the ship as duty calls.  The cargo of flour had to be unloaded and the ship cleaned before more Fiji sugar can be taken on for the next port in Canada.  This means I have a good four or five days in port, possibly more and this was always dependent upon available labor.

Friends and family filled my evenings as work filled my days.  It was the 2nd day at home when I began to discreetly collect my most important personal belongings and pack them into my travel bag; the things I felt I would need to start my life anew up in Canada, with Sonia.  

The evening prior to the ship’s departure had arrived.  My mother and my brother announced to me their plans of taking me along to a dinner gathering at their friend’s home.  I asked if I knew this family and I was told I had not yet made their acquaintance.

Although I was deeply preoccupied with thoughts and preparations of seeing sweet Sonia again, I didn’t wish to upset my mother or brother so I agreed and certainly I never minded meeting new people.

They lived just about a mile from our home, near the main street of Waimanu Road.  We arrived to happy hosts and they received us warmly.  Sitting comfortably on a sofa in their living room and having been served a drink, the introductions began for me as everyone else knew one another already.

I met the adults aka the parents and their six children; two sons and four daughters.  Of the two eldest children, one of the daughters parked herself next to me on the sofa and began a conversation with, “What countries have you been to so far?” in Hindi of course. 

Her name was Hemma and I replied to her, ‘Hawaii, Vancouver, Canada, Washington and Oregon in the United States and when we came back this way, I went on to see parts of New Zealand and Australia …’ Hemma was smiling.  I finished with, ‘…and tomorrow I am going back up to Hawaii and Vancouver!’

Our conversation continued and I asked her what her birthdate was; instead of giving me a date, she said, “I am fifteen.”  So much for beating around the bush.  I told her my birthdate and stated that I was eighteen.

My mother came by after a few moments and gently touching my arm, she softly told me this girl was one she especially wanted me to meet.  Dinner was served and we all joined together at the table.  A delicious Indian meal had been prepared and it was delightful to me.

This very young and pretty girl was doting over me perhaps a little too much for a first meet but then who am I to say anything about first meetings?  As Hemma filled my plate with lots of food she told me I should enjoy these dishes and eat up because I would not get this taste in my mouth again while overseas.

Well then!

Dinner was finally over and the conversation going around the room that evening was all pleasant enough.  However it was getting late and well, this young man had a working schedule to keep!  I suggested to my brother that we depart by 10p as I was feeling tired.  I was after all a couple of drinks into the night and with a full tummy to round off that relaxed state, I wanted to go …lingering thoughts and all.

For the lovely hospitality, dinner and drinks, we said our goodbyes, many a thank you and good nights.  It only took moments to reach our house and after we got settled in, cups of my sister-in-law’s perfect spiced tea for all, we conversed a little about the night.

I was asked how I enjoyed the evening and, did I like the young girl they introduced me to?  We could tell she really liked you, they said.  Now as they’re trying to speak lightly, suspicious thoughts are entering my mind.  It’s becoming apparent to me that my mother, brother and the other members of the family had been talking while I was away and decided it was time for a bride for the Little Blue Masala; and they picked Hemma!

They knew I would be sailing away again.  I knew my mother -God rest her soul- was doing everything she could to keep me at home.  My brother -God rest his soul- wasted no time introducing me to her and guess what?  Although panic momentarily set in, I realized I had nothing to worry about!

My life-changing bag was packed and with it I would be leaving first thing in the morning.  They didn’t know about the little plan I had hiding up my sleeve.  The one where I arrive in Vancouver, jump ship and elope with my Sonia …forever.

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Hemma is a created name for a very real person in this part of LBM’s saga.

We’re both glad you have decided to climb on board Little Blue Masala’s ship of tales.  Thanks for riding the unpredictable waves with us; after all that is what makes life interesting isn’t it?