65. A Haunting Melody & Roller Skates

I asked Diana if she’d like to double date with my friend Dave, whom she was now familiar with through her questioning but hadn’t yet met, and his girlfriend.  

Diana was more than willing and somehow I just knew she’d be game.  Dave told me about a fairly new movie, Summer Place which he’d been wanting to go see.  He thought this was a perfect date movie and the four of us should go together.

Saturday evening came and Dave picked up Diana and myself in mom’s lite blue Ford Fairlane 500 at the now regular meeting spot (Chevron) and off we went to catch the movie.  

At the box office Dave insisted on buying our tickets.  I protested but he told me straight, “No.  I invited the two of you to join us.”  And once inside he also wanted to buy sodas and popcorn for the four of us.  

Anyone of you reading this now, who has seen Summer Place with Sandra Dee and Troy Donahue knows this is quite a romantic movie (at least back in the simple day).  I tell you I was not expecting the 🎶 music to strike me just as it did.

A melodic musical piece, the theme song 🎵 from this movie became our own personal theme.  ♥️ It acted as glue binding us together; it was haunting and magical.  Of course I had absolutely no idea that was coming. 🌹

To say the least we all enjoyed the movie very much.  By the time it let out we were very hungry.   Dave took us to this drive-up restaurant and I‘m pretty sure it was the Tiny Naylors on Sunset Boulevard.  What a treat this was for me, why I’d never seen anything like this before.

The waitresses were uniformed real cute, taking our order and serving us right at our car, all while on roller skates.  I have to admit I was impressed.  That whole experience was lots of fun for all of us.  Oh to be young and having a carefree time of it!

Once again Dave opened his wallet but I had to stop him.  I could see it in his eyes when he smiled that he respected my gesture and so he backed down.  I covered Diana’s and my portion of the bill and of course that pleased me.

We drove around a bit afterwards but all that sitting was causing a lazy feeling.  Dave dropped us both off at Diana’s apartment.  She invited me to stay with her and I end up spending the night.  

Both of us clearly, equally hungry for the human touch, affection and possibly even love. ♥️ Summer Place was the beginning of Diana’s and my relationship.

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melodic musical pieceto this very day, that piece of music makes LBM’s eyes water, he gets all choked up and he’s gone …back to those days.  

I just brought the theme from Summer Place up on my computer for him to listen to as I finished up this post.  He tries to say something not realizing that his voice would come out cracked.

Music is definitely magical, this I know for a fact.

He tells me,Right up to this very moment, wherever I am or have been, a shop, restaurant, hotel, walking down the street passing by a record shop, whatever, wherever I overhear this piece and I’m instantly transported to that very same Saturday.  It never changes.  It keeps happening, never failing.  

“It’s as though I can touch it but only with my heart.  I go to the very place in time and we are all 4 together, I relive it happily.  Then I see I am with Diana right through the night, moment for moment and into the next morning (which came too soon).”  He then finished with,…it is like a gift.  You know, the one that keeps on giving.”

48. All aboard!

First thing I did was surrender my suitcase at the entry level and having checked my ticket, it was accepted and my hands were free.  I came back down to the wharf where my family and friends, who had come directly to the docks, were waiting.  

Saying the this-time-for-real goodbyes to the family before climbing the gangplank was rough to say the least, especially seeing my mother’s face and knowing this was, once again, tearing her up … it hurt.  

Then there is my sweet Noori.  I was closest to her now than ever before and knowing how dearly she loved me didn’t make this farewell any easier.  

The loudspeaker blurted out the commencement of pre-boarding for those passengers who were already residing on that ship from the previous port.  My heart skipped a beat and I can only imagine what my mother, sisters and brother and Noori’s hearts were doing.  

“Send us a postcard!”  someone said.  “Don’t forget to write!” said another.  “Remember us and return soon …”  trailed another voice.  It was time to say our final (such a word!) goodbyes.  

One by one I went to each person, young and old, hugging, kissing and wiping tears and making the repetetive promise to take care of myself and return sooner than later.  

Do you know there were a few of my family members whom I had never in my life, witnessed them shed a tear up till just now.  How heart-wrenching.  It was a long line-up of dear ones and then I get to my brother and my sisters.  

I had never seen my brother cry either and in our embrace he poured which of course caused me to cry my eyes out too!  My dear sister-in-law stood by him silently crying.  To make her smile I told her I’d miss her meals as no one could touch her cooking where I was going.  It worked.

I gave my brother a personal promise; whether or not he wanted it I would send money to assist so that he wouldn’t have to miss me that way and I reminded him that I will definitely call for him as soon as I have settled.  

To my sisters I told them how much I loved them and would miss them (I knew my little sister would be the one writing to me) and to all my nieces and nephews I laid down the promise of goodies from America.

My mother, my dearest, most precious mother.  I don’t have to tell you about the nonstop tears there.  She said to me, “Maybe I’m not going to be here when you come back.”  What a stab in my heart, I had that coming.  

I knew I’d better say something comforting and quick!  ‘Amma don’t worry please.  I promise you as I have made the same to Noori that I will be back in two years to marry her.’  

Noori was naturally standing there right beside my mother.  That statement brought a gentle smile to my crying mother’s face … and to Noori’s.

It was nearly 4 o’clock and the steamship whistle sounded.  The call for all to board was heard and went through my bones.  Noori and I embraced, tightly, she cried a lot and we repeated our love statement for one another.  ‘I will see you soon Noori.’  I assured her and she assured me in return, “I will wait for you Gary.”

Orsova ticket to.. 1959I began my ascent of the gangplank and I could hear all the crying.  I made my way to the top deck of the ship.  Boxes of streamers were laid out for the passengers to throw as their departing gesture and final tie being broken … well that’s what it felt like to me.

I grabbed half a dozen of those paper streamers and made my way to the railing of the ship, obviously dockside.  The Fiji Military band had begun a tune and the mood was set.

I see my people down there on the wharf and I can tell they’re searching for my face among the many.  A couple of the excited children spot me waving and point me out to the rest.

The Orsova horn -that sound- was blasted again, twice.  It was 4:45p and the gangplank would go up in five minutes.  I hold one end of each streamer and then begin to throw them towards the crowd, in the general direction of my family and friends.

Then the departing song Isa Lei began.  A man had caught one of my streamers and as though by fate, handed it to Noori.  She may not have caught one on her own, I don’t know and I had no idea who he was.

The big rope at the stern was first released and the ship begins a controlled slip away from the dock.  The tears and emotions for nearly everyone present were uncontrollable.  It’s such a haunting piece of music and the way the lyrics are sung, one cannot help but to lose it.

Isa is God in Fijian.  A feeling of hearts full of pleasure and return right away and your absence will bring pain … that kind of a feeling, very haunting you know.   

“Why did you come if you have to leave …”

The band is still playing and the streamers have been flying.  Now the stern has been released as the ship pulls away under it’s own complete power.
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You know this goodbye with Noori reminded me of 1953, nearly the same scenario up in Vancouver with Sonia.  I had said to her I would return to her and that we would run away and get married.  Sonia had said she would hide me from everyone.  This felt a lot like the same and I really didn’t want to suffer that love lost once again.

13. Meet Gary

I am now about 3 weeks into my unexpected shore leave and doing my best to adjust.  It was the not knowing …isn’t that the way of things?  Has Sonia received my letter and did the guys find the time to return to the club; did they all meet up? did she ask about me?  what did they say to her and how did she react?  Oh it was all I could do to distract myself from these haunting thoughts.

One of my family members was having a birthday and there was to be a party in our home that evening.  It wasn’t uncommon for the rest of us to invite someone we wanted to share our celebrations with.  My little sister invited one of her favorite classmates over for the evening’s affair.  Her name was **Noori and at this time, she was seventeen.

Noori’s gift to give was a delightful Indian birthday song and wow, what music came out of her!  Without any instrumental accompaniment to her clear, beautiful voice, every word rang like crystal.  I felt as though a professional singer, an excellent one at that, had graced us and I could see that everyone else was as taken as I was.

Afterwards I complimented her as others did too of course, and I asked her where she learned to sing so wonderfully.  Noori laughed and answered, “I’m a bathroom singer.  And when it’s really cold, I just sing my heart out!”

‘You know I’m a pretty good singer too.’  I told her.  I explained briefly that I sang nearly every night to my family.  As I lay in bed after we all said good night, I began to sing with all my heart.  And with my softer songs, most of them would often fall asleep.

I loved to sing, I had a good voice and I knew all the latest songs.  In the morning I was always told how much they loved listening to me sing!  Quite often I was given their requests too.  I found singing to be a good release; oh it was all great fun!  I had come a long way from ‘baa baa white sheep, have you anything for me to eat?’

Anyhow that birthday evening was really a good time for all.  It was dark and late by the time the partying had come to a close and so my brother walked Noori home.  It didn’t take me long to realize how happy I was that she had come.

Well she must’ve really enjoyed herself as well for she was back at our house the next weekend.  Noori helped my sister-in-law prepare lunch for the family.  As I was going about whatever business I had around the house I took notice that she appeared to be looking out for me, perhaps taking note of what I was doing; curious I suppose.

You see I kept looking her way too all the while trying to do it inconspicuously if that was even possible in this not-so-very-big house.  Well this was kind of fun and as the days and weeks went by I sensed her fondness of the family as well as their growing tenderness towards her.  Okay.  I took pleasure in her presence too; what can I say?  She was a delight!

I guess the time had to come when one of her younger brothers would feel obliged to make his presence known.  And what better opportunity than that being every time I walked past their home -which actually was unavoidable when one has to get to town from my spot on the island- an invitation for aggressive behavior I suppose.

Their home was a big house up on the hill, perfect with large picture windows and so they could see all the comings and goings on the main road below.  This included me walking down the street minding my own business.

But I also came to discover that if Noori was at home and she figured it was about the time I might be present, she’d look out the window for me.  This had to be the fuel for his challenge: as I knew it, their family was strict Muslim and mine of course was Hindu.  A no-go and a reason for a hot-headed adolescent male to assert his brotherly duty.

He’d yell at me from his window up there, “Leave my sister alone or I’ll come down there and beat you up!”  One day I guess he had had enough of just hollering out the window so he hid behind a tree on the main road, waited for me and as I approached he jumped out in front of me.

We exchanged a few punches, almost comical.  Then one of the older brothers who must’ve passed by one of the big open windows of the house noticed the scrimmage below and yelled out to his brother to get back home immediately!  He ran off right away.

After that day our paths crossed a few more times again and of course he tried to intimidate me and I always told him the same thing; his sister comes to my home not to see me but because she is good friends with my little sister.

For whatever is written in the stars, Noori continued to frequent my house.  It was like a second home to her I think.  I say this due to her actions; she’d go around the house helping everyone in any way she could.  Naturally this bonded her with us – her constant presence and her conduct to be counted among her beautiful qualities.

A funny thing was that she began to call me Gary.  So I had to ask, ‘Why are you calling me Gary?’  She replied, “I like that name very much.”  Noori further explained that she had read a book and the character which left a favorable impression in her mind was named Gary and so she wanted to call me Gary.

She added, “A little secret between the two of us and no one will know I am referring to you!”  I think she likes me.

Time waits for no one and now it is 1954.  Remember Hemma?  Well her family is feeling the need of pressuring my family to commit me into marriage with their daughter; this based on a previous discussion that had already taken place while I was gallivanting around the Pacific Ocean.  And they even said they thought it should happen by May of that year.

How about that for life-altering measures?  Here I go again; I was just getting into a comfortable place with Noori, what an annoying problem!

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**Noori is of course a fictitious name once again, yet for a very real person in this account of the Little Blue Masala’s life.  I’ll insert here that all the names (save for Gary, that is accurate) are fictitious but all the characters themselves are true to life.