She walked over to the window. It was half open. She was stunned when she looked out the window to the yard. It was snowing like rain outside”. The fifth part of the children’s novel Ekantha Navikan by young writer Subhash Otumpuram
An unexpected gift from Alabama
In the evening, Rebecca watched the news about herself on TV, sitting between her father and mother. After the news came, papa and mama’s phone did not get any rest. Friends were clamoring for details. Rebecca tired of answering.
The house was crowded with visitors from the next day. One by one the people in Vazhakkamteru came to their house. Everyone should see that bottle and the message. Her school friends also came. And so Rebecca Katilo became the star of Vazhakkameru.
She was unable to go out or birdwatch for a week because of the influx of visitors. That was her sadness. What she loved more than stardom and fame was in the world of birds, watching them.
When the commotion of the visitors was over, she took her binoculars as usual and went down to the beach. Many recognized her along the way.
“The star of Banana Street” they shouted.
“Not the ornithologist.” She corrected herself and said.
Seagulls lined up on the shore and had a feeding contest. One or two of the bunch looked different from the rest. She had never seen such seagulls before. Looking through the binoculars, she noticed a ring on the leg of one of them. She was surprised.
Ringing is done by bird watchers to track the arrival and departure of migratory birds. Same as botl message. She tried to read the writing on the ring. But she could not because the sea gull did not stay still. If you had a good camera handy, maybe you could.
It’s time for the sun to set. The sky was bathed in many colors. The wind from the west was unusually cold. Suddenly she remembered the bottle. What could be so cold inside that bottle? she thought. There is something special about it. It has a story to tell. What is the story?
That night she held the bottle in her hand and thought about it for a long time. She couldn’t find out what secret was hidden inside the bottle that only released cold steam when opened.
Two weeks later, the postman came to the house looking for her. She had a parcel. Rebecca was surprised. Who will send the parcel to me?
She signed it and bought it. The parcel was in the form of a small box. She was surprised when she saw the address sent.
Captain of Formosa
PB NO: 397
“What’s in it?” She couldn’t contain her excitement.
“Open it up.” Mom was also very anxious.
“Anyway, papa will come and see.” She said to her mother.
Mom agreed. When papa came in the evening, she told him about the parcel.
“They will send you a gift. Perhaps the sailor’s relatives.” Dad said.
She carefully opened the parcel. There was a camera inside. All three were amazed.
Rebecca was really surprised when she read the name of the camera company. Nikon P900. The same camera she envisioned. It was something that had never been told even to papa.
Rebecca inaugurated the new camera by stopping and taking a photo with mom and dad.
“What will I get for my next birthday?” Dad asked.
“I’ll think about it and tell you, papa.”
She only asked for things she felt she needed. No matter how expensive it was, she wouldn’t want it if she didn’t need it. Dad had asked her what she wanted when she got to the 8th standard.
She only asked for a few notebooks for the child she was studying with. The boy belonged to a very poor family. Papa bought more notebooks and clothes than she asked for. He should have seen the child’s happiness when he took it all home.
She took the camera and walked to the beach. The beach was empty. Not even the footprints of the birds were visible. Where did it all go?
She really wanted to take pictures of the ringed sea gull and take a closer look. She had no idea what was going on. It is not time for birds to return after migration.
She felt more surprised than disappointed. Even when she went to the hillside in the morning, she could not see any of the birds that she usually sees. All she could take was a photo of a single myna. She took only one or two pictures of the setting sun and walked home.
While looking through photos on dad’s laptop, a strange thing caught her attention. In all the photos there was something vaguely like the shape of a ship on the far horizon. She zoomed in on each photo. The black smoke-like figure was almost the same as the ship. That too is like a boat.
She showed it to papa.
“Where is the boat these days? It must be some smoke or something.” Dad said.
She thought that would be fine.
Before going to sleep, she opened the cap of the bottle and cooled the whole room. Then slept well. She had a strange dream in her sleep. In the dream she was inside a bottle. That bottle was floating in the sea.
She saw many ships. Saw the islands. Saw the mainland. The bottle kept traveling with her without hitting anywhere. Finally the bottle rose up in a big wave. It fell on a ship. She saw the captain of the ship approaching and bowing.
He opened the bottle and let her out. She looked at the captain in surprise. Black clothes. Cowboy hat. Long hair and beard. Snow particles stuck to it. Lip burning pipe.
“What’s your name?” he asked.
“Rebecca Katilo”- she answered.
“Oh” he laughed.
“What’s your name?” she asked.
He was about to say the name. By then, the dream was over. She woke up disappointed.
The room was very cold. She got up and checked the bottle. It was tightly covered.
“Then how come it’s so cold?” She didn’t understand.
She walked to the window. It was half open. She was stunned when she looked out the window to the yard. It was snowing like rain outside.
-to be continued