~ It is your call now ~
7 o’clock, Tuesday, 19th June, 1984…..
Melani stood besides the window, completely silent and still.
In the last few minutes, it was a bit chaotic…. The gate flung open with a squeaking noise…..the ambulance went inside Jonathan’s old building. Actually it is not a building at all……most of it is made of wood…. very old looking black colored thing… with hand repairs all over it.
Jonathan loved his shack. He lived there, alone…..for a long time!
Today is the day…..!
It is all there. In the note book. Melani kept it hidden deep into her closet. It was a gift, entirely personal. But deeply frightening…..!!
Now the ambulance and the people have left the building…..with a covered body bag. Melani knows who is inside…..! There is no second soul in the building. Melani can see the gate clearly from her window…..! It is still wide open, they forgot to close it or may be, just ignored it. Jonathan was not a big shot in the community…. almost a non-entity…. very casual in his approach to life. Big grasses are all over the ground in front of the building. Jonathan never bothered, always with a shy and melancholic smile he used to say – “life must be with other life. A new life is born among lives, stay with life and die among lives. Let the grass grow…..they are a part my soul”. Jonathan was a lonely sole…..lived a solitary life.
Here you are…. in the amusing life with birds, flower, people. But Jonathan is no more, but is it a new story for Melany? Not too sure. Today was the day…! Jonathan foretold as well. But Melani was nervous for last couple of days…. she prayed every day for a couple of days which she usually do not do…..praying for a thin hope that he will be wrong at least for this time!
But this is not the end. What is written next in the note book needs more prayer…!
The friendship started months earlier.
23rd December, 1983
It was actually a nice day. Sunny, not so cold…..blue sky above with patches of thin white clouds floating.
Melani, Julia, Priti, John, Paul and many others were there in the small road…..shouting and jumping with excitement. It was a normal holiday and obviously a picnic was arranged. As usual, a few cars parked down the road…..being loaded with foods, water, small blankets and other things people usually like…. radio, CD players etc. Lots of people are there…quite a few families were going that day. People are talking, laughing…having a good time.
Jonathan was not invited, he never was, in any social functions. Why should he? He was always a vagabond. A real one. Never stayed in the house continuously for a long time. Vanished for a week and came back suddenly. His clothes are rugged, not clean. He roamed the city happily without shaving for weeks. But now, that is the he was. People in general have sympathy for him. He was a soft spoken, good hearted guy without many enemies. But he did not have friends. Not much social connections. Melani sometimes feel he himself used to avoid people being socially inert.
Why? She asked to herself. But there are some questions which never got answered.
But on that day, suddenly he arrived. Jonathan…. as usual with bearded face, old jeans with dust mark and a dark blue full sleeve shirt with a oil spot near his elbow.
– “Hi guys, off for a picnic, I guess”, he shouted cheerfully.
“Ja…”, Sarah replied, “what a beautiful day, isn’t it?”
— “Hi Joe, what’s up”, somebody quipped from behind.
Jonathan smiled, the way he did always, a little bit evasive, as if something deeper is hidden. He turned to little Andi, said in a funny tune as far as he could manage,
— “Hallo Andi, where is your jacket, don’t you need one today?”
— “today…. with this hot weather..? No”, replied Andi, more interested to chew his apple.
— “Dear, take one,…. you might need it later…..”
Andi was a bit amused, a jacket with this weather…? But suddenly he got another excuse, Robin came out from somewhere with a red ball.
— “Bye Joe, talk to you later…”,…..before finishing Andy is on his way…!
Jonathan, with all his pursuing power, which was not that overwhelming, tried to all…men, women, child, mama, grandma, grandpa…..for a most unlikely weather, may be some severe rain or snow, but people laughed, the way they always. Nobody ever took him seriously.
After half an hour, all of them left…. cars ran down the narrow and twisting road through the town…..and vanished within a few minutes behind the woods besides some building at a distance. People waved hands, some are with happy mind and some, who could not go due to some reasons or other, with grudge.
But it was not a good day for picnic. Storm came, after couple of hours…..just after lunch time. People at the picnic had a good time by then.
It was sudden, violent and damaging. The color of the sky changed slowly as the wind surged. Simultaneously, temperature fail quickly. People noticed but did not alarmed…..weather was so nice just couple of hours ago…!! Then came rain, initially with small drops but almost with no time heavily. Nobody had any umbrella…!! But that is not all, as the people tried to take shelter below the tree, the rain became snow…!! Now, nobody had a jacket …..!!
That was a miserable day for all those who went for a picnic that day.
By some mysterious way, Jonathan was right…!!
Melani was the only soul who thought about it. It was not the sudden storm or the extreme difficulties due to rain or snow that bothered her, but the repeated request of Joe to take guard against low temperature and his complete conviction about the imminent change in the weather that is surprising to Melani.
How could he know that? How could a man be so sure?
That is the beginning. Naturally solitude seeker Melani found a friend in mild mannered Jonathan. Melani’s house was not far from that of Joe’s shack. She can very easily see the entrance and some part of his grassy porch in front of the house, if someone can call it a house any way.
The small road was spiraling just in front of Joe’s house to almost anywhere. School, shops, market, swimming pool…..you name it. So Melani occasionally go and say “hallow” to him. It was Jonathan and his cat “Picu”…..they are the only resident there. In most of the days of course, Jonathan was busy in something……repairing a small patch in the wall or digging some soil to put a useless plant near his window. Of course for Jonathan, the plant would be a miracle sort of thing.
Their short conversations always goes like this:
— “Hi Joe, how are you? Busy today?”
— “Here is my Meli…! Where are you going…. school?”
— “No. Just for a walk to Betty’s house. May be we go to swim…!”
— “Oh Ja, a nice day for swimming though. Just need to clear this bit, you know. May be I will put a nice pink rose here. There are some rose plants near the bushes……way up to the hill!”
— “Ok. Have a good day Joe. See you later.”
— “Same to Ya. Bye Meli…!”
On many occasions of course, Joe was simply not there. Either gone for fishing. God knows what sort of fishing he used to do, but always out for two to three days somewhere. Nobody ever saw any big catch with Joe. Or he simply went missing for a couple of days. Ultimately he always used to say – “playing cards with mates”.
Nobody ever took him seriously. Simply because he was not important to anyone in the small city. He lived in his way without disturbing anybody.
Life is like that….! People gets importance when he or she is valuable to somebody in some very earthly way. People’s worth in the society is solely judged by his or her affluence, money or connectivity to higher echelon. In this way in the modern society, a disguised criminal can also be highly recognized, appreciated or at least important.
Some people used to call him “nutter” behind him. But whatever he was, he was happy within himself. For Melani, he was sometimes “uncle”, sometimes only “Joe”, but none the less, a personality that had mystery and understanding of something not known to anyone else….say Brijit or Paul or Lorenjo or Father Pablo of the small Church nearby.
The next surprise came some months later, just after the Easter holidays.
14th of April, 1984, 5:45pm
All school opens next day. After four consecutive holidays little children do not like to go to school. But Melani is not kid any more. On Monday, she went to Abraham’s house. His mother cooked some food for his friends. Others also came…. they had a good time together. Young guys always have….!
Melani was coming back…. alone. Her house is a bit at the end of the street. There is no free spaces or big field around. But just it happens to be the end of the street. Behind their house, there is a small hillock…. hardly 30 feet high. Then there is a small water-body…. nothing big but it is flowing round the year.
She left Priti in her house and walking in a unmindful way….! The street is known to her like her palm…. every trees…. houses…. small seasonal flowers at the road side…all is very dear to her. She knows the place for last nineteen years…. since her birth.
She was unmindful…..or rather enjoying the solitude of being alone with soul is roaming randomly away from her body…thinking almost nothing. Suddenly there came shout…..two men speaking agitatingly. Melani stopped…..! Both of them were known to her.
Haluk, who had a garage there talking with none other than Jonathan, actually shouting.
— “No…I will send him. I don’t believe your hocus pocus…magic!”, Haluk frowned.
— “Look Hal, there are things…..can’t explain…. what is a big deal…just for a day though”, Joe said mutely.
— “Joe, why can’t you go and do something, man? I have to look after my business”.
— “Hey man, think….I believe it will be fine if he stays home one extra day….just to be sure….nothing happens to him, bro”.
— “See Joe, I am his father….and I will send him school tomorrow, ok? Now, would you please clear out? Lot of work left today. Good to see you…!”
Joe stood there for a while. Of course he was not a pal of Haluk, but still he had pain in him. He could never explain what actually happened. It was another bad defeat in his life. One of his many other…..! Melani approached softly….!
— “Hi Joe, what’s the matter? any problem?”
Joe turned back. – “Aye, Melani….how are you today?”. He tried to smile….but failed in his acting.
— “What are you talking to Luk? About his son or what? What happened to him?”
— “Ja…hmm…I just ask him to keep the kid at home tomorrow”, he replied slowly with some effort as if he did not want to continue any more…!
— “but why?”
A deep shy came from Joe. He put his hand on his beard, surely without shave for at least four to five days, his eyes were down towards the ground. He waited for some seconds, and then replied with a husky broken voice
— “Tell ya some other day”.
Melani looked at him….! He looked as rugged as ever, but today, his face was a bit different, a bit more ashened…a bit tensed. What is his tension? He does not look after anybody….Melani thought.
— “Ok Melani, I will see you later. Good night”.
Before Melani could reply, Joe walked passed her to the next bye-lane with long strides. The sound of his almost torn sleeper diminished very quickly. It is around six in the evening. Melani strolled back home, a bit sad. Is he getting mad slowly?
But actually not. He proved himself the very next day…! It was one day too late for Haluk though.
15th of April, 1984
Bad things do happen.
Next day was too bad for the city, bad for some families too. Lots of discussion came out over the incident in the news paper. But things that are lost never comes back.
It was just after the lunch break. Melani was standing with some her friends when the fire ring started. As usual, the school was not prepared for sudden evacuation, neither the students. Some guys did not understand it, some did but took it as some kind of joke. But none the less, they were the students of upper class….some teachers also came out….a few minutes of confusion and then large chunk of the crowd ran towards the exit.
But the actual thing happened in the other building…. for the lower classes. There in the lunch time, no kids stay still, some plays in the field outside…..some run around in the entire building. To find and collect everybody there in one place is a big task. But the fellows tried…. teachers and the other staff…!!
It was a short circuit somewhere in the circuit board. Fire started initially in a small area but it burst out of control rapidly. The buildings here are wooden…..made the thing worse. The maximum damage was at the second floor corridor up to the stair case…. where 4th and 5th grade classes used to held….!
Fire department cars came quickly…..but some damage already happened out of panic. Most of guys who were at that corridor during the fire had a scary time. Fire quickly spread over the place…. some guys jump from the corridor and wounded themselves. Some tried to run and escaped with burns. But two could not.
All these news came much later to the people like Melani and her friends. They were safe standing at the middle of play ground. Just after the fire fighters left, the news spread. It actually spread much faster than the fire itself….!!
Haluk could not console himself. He was forewarned by somebody who is a non-entity. But still it was a clear warning. It was an advise he ignored……his son could not make out alive from the fire.
Jonathan was not seen around that day and for a few days after that.
Melani was shocked. There was a clear connection between Jonathan’s request to Haluk and the incident the very next day.
But Jonathan is a human. How he could know beforehand?
Melani looked for him next day, the day after……no trace of him. Things went in the normal rout……police investigation started and continued for long…..a candle light vigil in the night involving a lot of people but most of them enjoyed the night outing in this serious affair…..a minute silence next day morning at the city center with the city mayor standing shoulder to shoulder with the two bereaved families which he would never have done without the accident….a school meeting at Friday at the auditorium where the head master of the “Sun Shine High School” spoke about many glorious things about the two kids who perished (a large part of the speech were of course over statement)….etc. etc.
Life is always like that. Some uncared living souls always find a place in people’s heart after their demise.
Weekend came. On Saturday, morning at around 11 o’clock….Melani was just sitting in the balcony with a book, not really reading but looking somewhere in the direction of the forest. It was a wonderful day. The air is thick with smell of wild roses…..bloomed somewhere nearby. Melani could see the Lilac trees are full of flowers all over the places around the small bushes and road sides around her house. Slightly away from her house, there is a meadow….a small un-occupied grassy space. Now in April, it is full of yellow Dill and clusters of Milkweed here and there. Some Anemone leaves are floating in the air….! Short Forget-me-not stems are managing their presence through the tall uncut grasses with pale blue flowers. Small birds are everywhere in trees, in bushes. Melani cannot see but identify chirps of small Canaries or Goldfinch….they are always shy and hidden behind the leaves. It is brightly shiny day. Spectacularly colored butter flies are all over the places…..roaming from flower to flower. Bees are also busy to look for pollen….! Dragon flies are hovering over the bushes in clear day after the winter….! It was just a happy morning…!
Suddenly there was a bang on the door…..”Melani….”….!
It was Jonathan. Melani jumped up and came down in a hurry. Her parents were in the lounge and were a bit upset about Jonathan coming here. They did not like him either. Melani took no chances, she simply got out of the house and took him just outside the gate.
— “where the hell were you? I was looking for you….I need an explanation…what is going on. Can you kindly explain….”?
— “I will try….! I am not good at it. Certain things can never be explained….! Let us go to my house…!”
So they went. It was behind of his house. Nothing spectacular…..some bushes here and there….some wild flowers blossomed in April sunshine…..some broken wooden chairs left at the corner….some other rubbishes like a fish net, electrical wires, corroded iron household things etc.
They sat on a long wooden bench….also broken in multiple places and repaired….probably kept years open in that place…..patches of green algae all over its body!
Silence..! None of them talked for a few minutes. Then Melani decided that she needed to break the ice.
— “So, Joe…..I think you just wanted to tell something….!”
Joe sat there for a few second more. Then he just cleared his throat with some awkward sound.
— “See…..certain things are better not said. I have a few problems for a long time…..after an accident in my young age…..but cannot explain….!”, he stopped a bit.
Then started again – “I have a bad memory……poor concentration……occasional big headaches. I always have problem in my studies……my parents tried hard to help …..but nothing worked out”;…..he stopped again.
Joe put some water from a bottle to his face….he looked tired and pale. Melani tried to comfort him…
— “are you ok Joe?”
Joe gulped some water, cough a bit…., said – “I am fine…..! Anyway, what I was telling ya….oh yes.…I had a troubled childhood……at last I left the house…..got into a fishing boat by paying some money……and ….since then…..I lived like this…! Some years here, some months there….! No address. Here, in “Blue-Mountain” city…..I probably stayed longer…for years now. I love this place……mountain and river both nearby……forest near the lake side…..no problem of food……I have a shelter as well….”, he smiled and signed his finger back at his shack.
Then both of them became quite for a long time.
Time is like a river, it simply flows around the people without reminding them anything. Melani and Joe sat on the old broken bench a while. Sun just went under a grey cloud in otherwise a bright day morning. The setting was a bit un-inspiring. In front of Melani, lied heaps of broken and unused house hold items……some are already highly corroded…..some wild flowers and bushes……never watered properly by Joe….as if they are also uncared for….some ragged fishnets….not used for a long time. Behind her, a old wooden building with broken windows…..spider web all around……already shelter for a few birds.
It was not even two minutes probably….but it seemed hours to her.
Suddenly Joe got up……”just a minute”, he quipped and vanished inside his shack. But came back almost immediately.
— “this is for you…”, he put forward his right hand. Melani saw a small old book or a little diary…..”just read…..when you have time….not so important….but you might get the answers….!”. Joe managed a tired smile.
— “I don’t have any skill to write diaries…..but something in my life is……! Anyway, just read it. At least you might have some fun in reading….!”
After that Joe just stood there, just looking unmindful towards some little yellow flowers. He had no words left. He said everything. Whatever he had in his insignificant life….whatever mystry he had within himself, is now with Melani, the only person in the city who had some nice words for him.
Melani understood, just got up from the bench and smiled a bit – “thank you Joe for the diary. I will read it full and talk about that….”.
— “ok….hmm…yes if we meet…!” Joe smiled a bit….a typical sorry look shadowed his face.
Melani waved her hand and walked back slowly to her house ……a few minutes walk from there.
The Diary….it says all.
It was a very ordinary diary……not even a diary in a sense that it did not reveal any body’s life or specific incidents of him. But there are some pages……especially at the later part of the diary……alarming…..direct……shocking…!!
Melani read it full.
It started at an early date but not mentioned in which year. Joe was in some other city at that time. The lack of literary depth of Joe is abundantly clear in every part of the diary. Spelling mistakes are there in almost every pages. In early pages, it was very banal and mundane…..”got some money from Peter….”, or “tomorrows job: repairing the bike of Paul”…something like that. All through his life he had financial difficulties. So some pages are like ..”money to be returned to Bethany” or “Bob asked for his money today, so go for fishing tomorrow”. He had the passion for playing cards are all over the diary. “won 500 bucks from yesterday’s game”….or “need to join weekend poker draw….need to pay to Holland”….full of those silly things.
But something in some pages are hinting to something much deeper and disconcerting. Joe wrote in a page in his bad hand writing:
“…things are coming back again. After the accident….I thought …I might have some problem in my brain…..something which our city doctors could not tell. Bad headache….lack of sleep. But again those dark things are coming back. Dreams….! Yesterday, I had a terrible night…..! Why I see that? Always some message…..!”
Somewhere he wrote – “I told them…..but nobody would trust me……they say Joe is a nut,….feel pity for them…..I offered help”.
Again he wrote…..”why always bad? It is killing me. Why dreams are so dark…..frightening..! Is it telling me something? I had the same dreams for three nights…..Rob’s son is in water…..swimming….but he is going down….”. Shall I tell Rob? He will not trust me….!”
— “I must stop them. Rob’s family are going for fishing…..this weekend…..I must stop them. But how? This happened me earlier as well. I told some guys……they laughed at me…..and something really bad happened. But Ron is only 12…..I have seen them growing up in the locality…..must stop them..”
One page blank, but the date is there……12th June, Saturday, 1978…!
Then again, he wrote – “my god…..I cannot believe. I warned Rob…..he offered me a gulp costly “Black label” whisky……said-“Joe, you need rest, you are tired”…..but things did not go for them the way they thought. It was only a freaking accident…..a boulder in the river. Ron, a young guy… could not make it….I can still see…..his two young hands….trying best against the strong current……without any life jacket….! Rob knocked my door, he was crying……what I should do? I want to cry….but …..curse is following me everywhere!”
Again some pages of minor incidents……”got a new puppy…..wish he will live with me”….or….”got a wild yellow ‘marigold’ from the forest near the hill…..nice for my small garden”……”need to repair the outer wall, woods are getting rotten…” like this.
Then again .. – “I am sitting in a chair in front of my room…..now it is about 3:30 early morning. God…..again the monsters came into my dream……something is going to happen. Not sure……what I saw..!..A lady is running….cannot see her face……but blood…..lots of it in her clothing….what is happening actually?
“another terrible night…same horrible scene…people are running around…..crying…babies are shouting…fire in the background…!”
Then one line — “happy that it is only a dream…..a very bad dream”.
Then there are no entries for a few pages. Only one sentence in one page – “no dreams today night. Hope it is a false alarm….!”
Again some pages blank…..small numbers here and there…. probably money, either his debt or won something in weekend poker games.
Then Melani stops. There is a piece of paper folded in between two pages. Melani opens it. A news article – “Devastating earthquake in Bradford area”…..! A small description…..a red pen underline over a sentence — “death toll crosses one thousand”. There are some other descriptions….”the small town was almost destroyed…..the epicenter was near a hill almost 20 kilometers away from the city with the strength around 7.2 in Richter scale”.
Behind the small news paper cutting, a sentence – “I can see things…..I cannot control it. I can tell people…..I cannot force them to believe me..!”
Melani stunned. She also heard about the incident….she was around sixteen years of age at that time. She remembered because one of their neighbors lost a relative in that earthquake….also their firm was destroyed completely.
Melani stopped reading…..closed her eyes…..and just lay down in the couch. She wanted to calm down her mind.
That’s it…!…This is the proof…..! He could see through the times….in front….! He could not make anybody to believe his power. A village guy with very little education…..left his parent’s house at an early age…..no permanent job ever…..no permanent address….who will believe this guy.!
The diary showed his deep sympathy for everybody he met…..during his stays in many cities. It also showed his mental wounds for not convincing enough to the people with whom he shared his vision.
Later Joe came to this small city… ‘Bluemountain’. Diary described small descriptions….! It seems that he came to ‘Blue-Mountain’ to handover some item for the exchange of little money. He met some guys…..have some glasses of beer at lunch and they became pals. Supposedly he spent couple of days in the city with one of his pal’s empty house……and….just stayed here…..never left after.
He wrote in a page:
— “….found this city attractive. The river is nearby…..seems to be good for fishing. Mountain is also not very far…..nice bushes and forest nearby….good for mid-day stroll…..staying here for a few month…..just trying my luck……got a house at a convenient corner of the city….a bit broken…..but Joe will manage.”
Then there are usual staff…..small jobs…..money…..debt…..weekend poker…some unknown flowers at the road side…..etc. No special stuff.
Then in one page….
— “December…..they are going for fun…good. But sorry to see the people with no protection against rain…..I saw….bad weather is coming.”
— “warned them ….all….to kids as well…..all ignored me. God save them…..I am a small guy….helpless…!”
Melani scroll through. She knew very well what happened on the 23rd of December. Jonathan did his utmost….none would listen to him.
Then the case of Luk and his son.
Joe wrote… “I saw again…..a bad dream…..I see fire around….a child….crying….inside a building….a child on his back with a green jacket…running from fire….it but not clear…..who…! Mann…..again a mishap…”.
— “impossible…..cannot find….who…! Somebody will suffer….somebody …close by”.
Then some digression….as usual. Then again started….
— “Gosh….just saw today. Luk’s son has a green jacket…..”
— “…..I must warn him…..today.”
Then there is a pause. Then it continued…. “Luk came to me…..devastated. He did not deserve that. I told so many times to keep his son home for a day. They never believed me.
The diary stopped there for a few pages. Absolutely no entry.
Then by the end of one page…..a red ink entry. It is a date…..19th June, 1984. Initially Melani did not realize it. What is it?
A small entry below the date…. – “should be over without much pain…”.
Then there is a page clipped together….. – “Don’t open until 20th June, 1984”.
Melani finished the diary. Last page is stapled, before that……the date with red ink. She was a bit uncertain…..a bit uneasy…..—“should be over…..much pain…! What did that mean? She tried many times in the last couple of weeks to meet Joe. But he simply vanished.
Some people has seen him just strolling around the river around one o’clock in the noon….! Probably just after handing over the diary to Melani, he simply walked out of his house with a bag and almost nothing else……! But since then he could not be traced.
6 o’clock, Tuesday, 19th June, 1984
This is just another morning. Melani woke up, finished brushing and went to the balcony. That is her habit for a long time.
It is sunny morning. She noticed quickly that there are people in the Joe’s house. Why? Has he turned up? She waited patiently in the balcony.
But things go fast…..! the Ambulance came……after a few minutes….and people came down…some noise…..people talked some words to each other. Melani went back to her room and stood besides the window…..she can see the ground very clearly from here.
So they came and went. The ambulance vanished with the body bag. Only one guy used to stay there….. no confusion. So Joe returned in his shack sometimes yesterday…..!
Suddenly she filled a chill. What was the date in the diary? She jumped to her closet and grabbed the diary.
Yes, 19th of June. And it is…..! the calendar on the table showed 18th…..yesterday’s date, Melani has not changed yet…..! So that is the meaning of red ink……Joe predicted the last day of his life journey.
Melani sat on the sofa. Breakfast time is almost there…..7:25am in the clock. But she did not have the urge to go down now. The entire city is moving as usual……her family, parents….brother…..are preparing for another normal day. But for her, this day should never have come for the first place. Everybody now know that Joe is no more. Joe was not a beloved personality here. He was a person people always tried to avoid including her family. But whatever small interaction Melani had with Joe, she felt he was not bad at all. The only fault for him was that he was not successful in life.
Success in life is the only measure for a person to be loved……success is the only thing our society cares for.
But the diary is also with Melani. This is completely hidden from everybody. Joe gave it only to her. The diary is a testimony of what supreme gift Jonathan possessed. He could not realize the gift properly……he struggled with his dreams….his visions. He kept it secret for everybody, but did everything within his power to warn people around him about the incidents…the things those are coming……nobody paid any attention. People paid dearly…..they talked about the distress they faced to Jonathan…..but funny enough, they never thought about it deeply to realize that Jonathan warned them beforehand.
So that’s it….! Old Jonathan is gone. Gone forever. Bluemountain is moving on. People are going out as usual……walking…..talking….playing….laughing….same as ever. No further discussion about Joe. People forgot him quickly. His wooden shack is again free for somebody….lying idle. His pet Piku, the cat left very quickly to some other address….she knows about the fundamental rule in life…..if you lose one food provider, look for another and urgently. The grasses are getting taller in the ground in front of the shack.
Melani felt sad…..but went in life as usual. Attending her final year in the school. She had her memories and a diary from Jonathan which she kept secret. After a couple of days, on Thursday, she opened the last page of the diary.
As surprising as ever, it is a number. Melani could not realize any significance of it. But she knows well that it has got some significance for somebody. She copied the number in a small slip in her purse.
Time is passing as usual in Bluemountain. People are getting on in life, getting old day by day. Melani grew in her youth along with her friends. School final exams are over…..holidays have started.
It is a boring time for youth. Melani, Priti, John, Puck and some others decided to have spending holidays at a distant island. So, things go as usual…..talking to parents…..some persuasion…..lots of comments and advise from the seniors……then buying air tickets. The day of the travel arrives quickly.
Today is the day.
In two cars they all reached the local airport in time. It’s a busy airport, slightly away from the Bluemountain city. They all, with a broad smile in their faces, got into the terminal. Bad news……that particular flight is cancelled due to mechanical fault. They all waited patiently as the air carrier promised to announce a replacement flight. All of them are happy in that arrangement.
They all were sitting in a row of chairs in the big terminal just in front of the big electronic board where the flight destinations and numbers are splashed in every minute. The air carrier gave them, to Melani and her friends and some other group of people a replacement flight that will go via a small city and it will be only a couple of hours delay. It is a flight that is supervised by another connected airline. So they are all waiting for the number to turn up in the board. Already there are long lines in front of the desks of different airliners carrying people to different destinations. Since they have been allotted their seats to another airlines so they need to hurry and stand behind a good number of people to check-in.
Melani always likes airports. There are so many people around……and inevitably, in holiday seasons, everybody is in a good mood. So in airports, it is always a celebration. She was sitting alone a bit quietly. Her friends are speaking a lot today. She was thinking unmindfully about the future……results, though it is more than a month later…..then university….but which one? There is a small university in the city, but her parents prefer to go to the bigger one which is in another city, so Melani need to stay in a hostel there. She was not very deep into the thinking, but just looking to the people but seeing nothing.
— “that is ours….surely…..to Marrakech. Let’s move guys”. This was their plan, not only a new place, but a new culture to know. They all got up with their luggage. Melani was still sitting in her chair, a bit unmindful. She had a travelling trolley suitcase and a rucksack as cabin luggage. She got up a bit lethargically while her friends were ahead a bit with their young vitality.
After taking a couple of steps, she just casually looked up to the board as their tickets are with the old flight, they needed to get a new boarding pass from a different airlines.
She looked at the number…..nothing was odd with it. only she thought the last four digits looked vaguely familiar. Why?…..She moved on….now a bit rapidly, her friends were already at least 20 yards in front. But she had a peculiar uneasiness somewhere in her mind….! She never travelled with this airlines, so why the number looked a bit familiar? She slowed down a bit just to give herself a bit more time.
Suddenly her face got a bit red….as if some extra blood flowed through the veins of her face. But slowly the face turned to pale….! She stopped completely, put her hand to her back pocket and brought her purse. The small slip was still there. She grabbed the slip in front of her eyes…..!
No mistake. The exact same number is written there on the slip. It was Melani’s own hand writing. The last number she got from the last page of Jonathan’s diary. It is a complete match……initial English alphabets and the last few digits. To Melani, the number is almost glowing on the electronics board.
Melani stood there. People are passing around her……everybody is busy…..in every few minutes, some kind of announcements are coming from speakers at different locations. But for Melani, time stands still. Her friends are now way ahead, some called her name from a distance. The lines are bigger now, everybody wants to get their baggage checked in and wait in the security area…..!
Melani stood there, still. She had to stand there. She must take a decision……now.