This is a hilarious yet sad story.
Happened this February, when Sunny and Taruna had come visiting from Amritsar. And I had taken them to the beach.
Before I go into the story, let me introduce the main characters.
Character 1: Me. (You know me, obviosuly!)
Character 2: Sunny alias Ashish. Sunny, is like a younger brother to me. We met through Orkut about 3 years ago, and instantly hit off. He always came to me when he was happiest or while at his lowest self. I wonder how my words of inspiration often helped him out (because when I am depressed, none of my self-motivation techniques help!).
Character 3: Taruna. Sunny's newly wedded wife. That made me her 'Bhabi'.
Character 4: I still dont know his name! I haven't seen his face. Except for his hair, shirt and shoes.
Now to continue the story...
Sunny and Taruna, were visiting us, in Chennai. It was their first visit ever to South India. Sunny was from Amritsar and Taruna from Delhi. That should explain their love for the sea.
So there we stood at the Marina beach in Chennai at 9 pm, watching the Bay of Bengal. Sunny and Taruna had never been to a beach before.They had only read about the sea from school. They ran into the water. Their exciement was justified.
I sat at a distance, watching the young couple play in the water. Hoping they knew swimming. (You dont need the sea to learn that!)
It was a scream.
I ran wondering who was drowning and whom to pull out. Both of them stood there frozen.
"Kya hua?" (What happened?), I asked.
"Didi, paani mein aadmi..." (A man in the water), that was Sunny.
"Kya?" (What?), me again.
"Didi, paani mein aadmi..." , he repeated.
"Wahan dekho, paani mein aadmi... woh kya kar raha hain?" (Look there. A man in the water. What is he doing?)
I was searching for some fisherman fishing away. Nothing was visible in the dark. I wondered if it was a ghost.
That's when Sunny pointed into the water a few feet away and showed me something floating.
"Lagtha hain kuch doll hain..." I was trying to console myself saying it was a doll.
"Nahi Didi. Shirt pehna hain. Sar pe baal hain. Dekho dekho, shoes bhi hain!" (No! He has a shirt on him. There is hair on his head. He is also wearing a shoe)
I dint know what to say.
"Woh paani mein thair raha hain kya? Lekin mukh tho paaani mein hain..." (Is he trying to swim, with his face in the water?) Sunny kept on talking.
A tide swept over and the body floated along with it.
That's when I froze. It was a dead boy. Or rather the deadbody of a boy. And it was floating towards us.
I pulled them both out of the water and asked them to stay together. Then I ran to get help.
Two gentlemen (a foreigner and an Indian), dressed like business men where engrossed in a deep conversation, when I barged in. They seemed angry.
"Sir, there's a deadbody floating in the water, quite close... We need to get help..."
"So, why you telling us. Please go and inform the police."
Hmmm... Not worth a fight. Better try someone else.
May not be educated and well dressed. But have heard that such people have a heart.
"Anna, anga thanniyil oru ponam. Vanthu paarunga! Please!" (There's a deadbody in the water there. Please come and help!)
"Madam. Tension aagathingey! Ukkarunga... Thanni kudeengey..." (Madam, relax. Sit down. Have some water.)
Such diplomats! Impressed. Now to get to the crux of the issue.
"Anna... antha ponam..." (What about the deadbody?)
"Daily ethana ponam paakarom. Thanni adichu mabulla vanthu sethuduvaanga. Ithu ingey sahajam. Neengey tension aagaathingey!" (We are used to this everyday. Someone or the other gets drowned, often inebriated. You dont get worried about all this...)
"But Sir, athu poi edukkanom, illa?" (But we need to get the body out...!)
"Aiyo. Namma thoda mudiyaathu. Police thaan varanum..." (No, we cant do that. That is the cops' affair)
So much for diplomacy.
Now, where do I find a policeman?
Meanwhile, Sunny and Taruna were on the beach trying to guard the deadbody, or rather walking along with it, as it floated. What a romantic way to spend one's honeymoon!
I thought I saw a Khaki on the road. It was quite a distance from the road to the beach. I was gasping for breath as I had to run to cover the stretch.
I forgot my Tamil and started screaming in English.
"Sir, there's a deadbody in the water and you really need to help. We have to pull it out...."
"Madam, Tamil theriyuma?" (Do you know Tamil?)
"Yes Sir. I mean, theriyum. (Yes Sir, I do.)
"Ok.... Ippo sollunga..." (Ok, tell me now.)
I repeated the story again.
His first question startled me.
"Madam, body water'le irukka illa land'ile irukka?" (Is the body in the water or on land?)
"Sir, its in the water!"
"Oh! Then, sorry Madam. Not my department."
"Madam, body ippo thanniyilley thaaney? Athu karaykku vantha namma paathukalaam" (As the body is still in the sea, I cant help it. Let it come to the shore. Will do something!)
"Sir, athu ponam Sir! Athu thaana nadantha varum? Namma poi pudicha thaan varum!" (Sir, will a deadbody walk up to the shore? We have to go get it...)
"No Madam. Not my department."
Crazy people. I lost it.
My heart leapt out to the guy who floated in the sea.
Without a name.
Without a face.
Half immerged in water.
Waiting to be pulled out.
Or to be washed ashore.
I wept silent prayers for his family, who were either asleep or were wide awake waiting for him to get home safe.
I called Sunny and Taruna and hired an auto and headed home.
So much for trying to be a good samaritan. I failed miserably.
May God forgive me and may his soul rest in peace.