” So how are you these days ? “, Dr. Shrreder asked her.
“Good. Better than last week atleast”, Maisie replied.
“Are you having enough sleep ?” asked Dr. Shrreder.
“Are you having those dreams again ?” Dr shrreder raised his brows.
“Yes. They are not dreams. Its more like i have been there before.” Maisie smiled. She always got so enthusiastic when asked about her dreams.
“Okay maisie, i don’t wanna get into another discussion about your dreams but, you gotta understand ! These dreams, they keep you awake all night. If you don’t get enough sleep, your situation will worsen.” Dr. Shrredder said, his eyes gazed at her, like she had no hope left.
My sister Maisie, she was this charming beautiful girl in college. Too intelligent for the university, she had her own studies which no one could even understand. She was pursuing her final year marketing degree by the time i joined university. My name is kristen, kris for short. We lived in Boston. Our mom died when i was 3 and maisie was 7. Our dad remarried and, we were on our own most of the time.
Maisie was very bright since 1st grade, she was favorite to every damn teacher in the school staffroom. And at some point i was jealous of her, because i had no interest in studies and my father, he always made sure that i had to face his wrath every time i scored less in exams. Though it doesn’t matter now. I am a successful writer now. On the other hand Maisie, she messed things up. Some people said she is getting crazy, but i didn’t felt so. She was more calm than ever, that’s not how crazy people be. Just after maisie completed her marketing degree she got a call from Kolkata, India. She was offered a huge salary package and a house and a car in Kolkata. At first we thought it was a prank call, but later it turned out to be a famous Telecommunication brand in india. Maisie was on cloud 9, though i wasn’t too happy about her going to India. People from America don’t usually gel up in the east. But she wasn’t someone who would listen to anyone, so she went. Months passed by and we did skyped once or twice. She was busy in her job and i was busy taking my writing assignments. One day when i was getting back home, it was the fall of 2015, when i got a call from an indian number.
“Hello” i answered.
“Hey, is this Kristen Rottemier ?” A man on the other end asked.
“Yes, who is this ? ” I asked him.
“Umm Kristen, this is Arvind from Techinor company. Umm, i don’t know what to say”
“Wait, Techinor ? Is my sister alright?” My heart raced.
“I think you should get here as soon as possible Kristen. Your sister was traveling to Sunderbans with 25 more people on a cargo boat, and..”
I was already sweating. I didn’t wanted to hear whatever he was saying. At the back of my heart i knew what he was going to say, and i didn’t wanted to hear it. But i couldn’t cut the call, like my hands froze and my vocal chords shrunk. I realized fear.
“Kristen, are you there ? Can you hear me ?” Arvind’s voice echoed.
“Yess! What happened to Maisie ?” I could barely speak.
“Umm, well the search parties are working all day. We haven’t found her yet. 16 people have been found, all of them…..dead.” he said.
Tears rolled up my cheeks, i could not understand what happened. I could not hear anything more, i could not see anything more.
“Kristen, calm down. We haven’t found her yet, there is hope. You need to come up here as soon as possible.” I heard Arvind saying. The cellphone slipped out of my hands. She is the only family i have. Nothing can ever happen to her. I was unable to hold up. Tears rolled down and i all i could hear was car honkings from behind.
“Ma’am, are you alright ?” Someone knocked my car window. I just saw him and could not speak anything. I started the car and drove fast. Not many things i remember of that day, but i drove fast home and got my belongings and next i was on my way to the Airport. I took the earliest flight to New Delhi and upon reaching another flight to kolkata.
Jouney calmed me down a bit. I started thinking clearly and i made a call to Arvind as soon as i landed in kolkata.
“Hey, this is Kristen. I am here.” i said.
“Hey kristen, take a cab to the address i am sending you.” He said.
“Did you find her ? Is she okay ?” I asked, my voice shuddered.
“No, most of them have been found. No one survived. 3 people including you sister are not found yet. If you get here soon and then we can immediately leave for Sunderbans” he said.
“Okay” was all i could say. I cut the call, booked the cab to the address he sent. While in cab, i called maisie numerous times but her phone was switched off. I could not hold back my tears as we zoomed towards the location. I remembered the time when we went boating when we were kids. Maisie was always in awe of the lake. She often said she would like to travel the depths of the water bodies. Who knew, this is how it had to be.
Maisie was always very enthusiastic. She loved sports, hiking, water rafting. I remember when dad used to take us to our sunday expeditions, i would enjoy my chips and sandwich, lying down on the beach and reading a book while maisie, she would get all drenched, make sand castles and run all around. Dad used to lift her up and throw up and then hold her back and she was so thrilled of that.
Wait. Dad. I remembered i hadn’t yet informed dad. Though he wasn’t in contact since long, but he deserved to know, After all she was his favorite. I took out my phone and dialled him up. As usual, he didn’t picked up. I was so alone, so much in pain, i could not figure out how was i gonna take it. Maisie had to be alive, she can’t get away like that. I dialled maisie’s number, cursing in my head, i waited for the operator to say those silly words, like the phone is switched off, right when i heard, it rang.
I jumped off my seat, i literally did. I waited her to pick it up. Those 20 seconds felt like forever, but nobody picked it up. I broke down into tears.
“Is everything all right, ma’am ?” The driver asked me.
I couldn’t answer him, what would i say. Was everything alright? No. Nothing was. I wiped my tears.
“I am okay. How long will it take to reach ?” I asked wiping my tears.
“We are almost here. That building on the corner.” He pointed out to a building at the street’s end. I paid him off and literally jumped off the cab before he could even stop. Took out my bag and called up Arvind.
“Hey, i reached the address. Where are you ?” I said.
“I will be there in 5 minutes. Stay there.” He said and hung up. I looked around, saw a cigarette shop nearby. I hadn’t smoked since college, but it felt like i desperately needed one. I went to buy a box and suddenly i realized i hadn’t converted my money. No body would take dollars here. Fuck. I waited for Arvind. And after some 10 minutes, a car stopped by. A man in his 30’s stepped down. He was tall. Very tall.
“Hey, you must be Kristen ?” He asked.
“Yes. Any news of Maisie ? What is happening. I need to know everything, i am getting crazy, please. Tell me.” I begged.
“We are leaving for Sunderbans in 2 mins. We have a ferry from Howrah at 9.40. Don’t have much time so let’s go. I will tell you everything in the car.” He said and asked me to sit in the car. I didn’t take more than 10 seconds to do so. I sat in the car and he pulled my luggage in the car trunk. Then he came and sat and we left for Howrah.
“Your sister, she is a very bright Employee. She is an asset for our company” he said. Fuck’s sake, i know how bright she is, I didn’t wanted to hear that.
“Did you find her ? Where is she ?” I snapped.
“I know how you’re feeling right now kristen, and i really don’t know what to say. We are trying our best to find maisie, but its been 2 days, the search parties are continuously searching for the bodies. We found everyone, except your sister and two more men” he uttered.
“No you don’t know how am i feeling right now. You know nothing of that, you have no idea what is going inside my head. You have no FUCKIN IDEA.” i yelled at him. I had completely lost my control and my frustration came out. I spilled and i cried like a baby. I cried and i cried more.
“Among those three people, other than your sister, i lost my brother too. We couldn’t find him either” he said. He was looking down to his shoes. And i was looking at him. It took me a while to get what he actually said.
“Your brother ?”
“Yes. Rishav Singh. My brother and me, we are the joint CEO of this company. I take care of the administration and he took care of the Creative head. That’s when your sister joined office and they got close. They were dating each other. We were doing really good in the office and we also got awarded just last week for the Best growing Company in the East zone. Rishav came up with this plan to award our creative employees and organized this trip to the Sundarbans. While they were closing nearby the tiger islands, the boat broke it’s propeller. Rishav called me up to send help but before anything could be done, the boat sank.” He said. Tears rolled up his cheeks. I was so ashamed of how i just behaved with him.
” I am really sorry, i lost my mind, its….” I sobbed and he held my hand.
“I know Kristen. But its not the time to grieve, we have to find them.” He said. And i wiped my tears too. Yes. He was right. No matter how but i had to find my sister, afterall she is the only one i have in my life.
The next few hours were spent traveling. We reached Howrah and then took the ferry to sundarbans. Almost after wandering in the Bay of Bengals for more than 6 hours we saw various boats and a large jetty in the sea. It was almost dark, the lights from the jetty flickered.
“We are here” i heared arvind saying. I looked at the lights. We were reaching it and i convinced myself. I am going to find you Maisie. Hold up. I have come for you.
We rached the jetty and we climbed on it from our ferry. I saw police and divers in the jetty. One officer approached us as soon as we climbed in.
“Hello sir, we still haven’t found your brother and the other two associate ” he said.
“Then keep looking officer, what am i paying you all for ? Find them !” Arvind yelled. The officer frowned.
“I understand Mr. Singh but you have to understand too. These waters, they are too deep. We have continued this search for more than 60 hours now. If they were anywhere around we would have found them. All other bodies were found in the radius of 20kms. We can’t check the whole ocean sir, its impossible.” Officer said. My heart sank. Its true, nobody can search the whole ocean. It was water everywhere, as far as it could be seen. I got goosebumps. How Maisie would have felt. Tears rolled down.
“You can’t give up like that officer. You need more money, take it. I will pay every diver the double money, but find them.” Arvind said.
“Its not about your money sir, the boys are tired. They have been working for so long now. And besides the current was too strong. If the bodies have reached any islands nearby, the tigers would have taken them at first sight. Please try to understand Mr. Singh, we aren’t giving up but its no use finding them. We will not be able to find them” officer tapped down Arvind’s shoulders.
“I am sorry” he said again. “We will call the mission off. There were things , belongings of the deads, like bags and cellphones, we have sent them to the headquarters. We will leave now.” he said.
I was devasted. Arvind was silent. Deep inside he knew too, that we are never gonna find them. How would the families of others deal, wouldn’t they break on the sight of the bodies ? When they hold their belongings, their cellphones ? Cellphones? Damn, i had completely forgotten about the cellphone, that it rang, maisie’s cellphone.
“Hey Arvind, i need to tell you something.” I pulled him aside
“When i tried maisie after reaching kolkata, it wasn’t reaching. It was saying switched off” I said.
“Ya, so ? Cellphones have drowned too Kristen. ” He said, going towards the officer.
“Listen to me. ” I pulled him again. Definitely he was upset but i held him firm.
” When i called her again before reaching your office, it rang. Full ring, 20 Seconds, it rang.” I said
“What are you saying ?” He asked. His eyes starred at me. “When ? Why didn’t you tell me earlier ? “
“I completely forgot about it, but now we know that right, we can try again.” I took out my cellphone and it showed no signal. Arvind checked his and there was some signal in his cellphone. I quickly dialled the number on his cellphone and waited. It took some time but again, it rang. Complete ring. Both of us looked at each other. Arvind quickly ran towards the officer, he was already leaving.
“Sir” arvind shouted.
“Please Mr. Singh, we can’t do more. We have to take off the search operation. It’s already dark.” He said and kept walking.
“No, no. Its something else” Arvind ran behind him and i too ran. “The Girl’s phone, its ringing”
“What girl ? The White one ?” Officer asked. I glared. People say white people are racist. Dumbass police.
“Yes, her phone is ringing. It wasn’t ringing earlier.” Arvind told him. “Can you check the location, please help us.” He said.
“Okay, wait. Hey, banerjee, come here” officer Roy called up a constable. “Get this number tracked, find the location and see when it got switched on. Do it fast” he instructed.
“Mr. Singh, we are working on it. But now you too have to co-operate. You guys can’t stay here. Return to Kolkata and we will inform you as soon as we find something. Take the White girl with you” he said. Asshole. But he was right, staying here was of no use. So we decided to reach back kolkata. We reached kolkata late at night and Arvind arranged my stay at a nearby hotel. Once i reached the hotel, i went to take the shower. The day was nothing i could ever dream of. It was the worst day of my life. The water droplets drizzled theough my body. My tears floating with the water itself. I felt cold but it wasn’t hurting me anymore. It was soothing me. My back was hurting, but it made me realize that i was alive and my sister, she probably wasn’t.
I stepped out of the shower, wiped myself with the towel. After putting my clothes on, i called Arvind.
“Hey, sorry to disturb you at this hour.” I said
“Hey, no. Its alright. Are you okay ?” He asked me.
” I won’t lie on that. And i know you too are not okay. But, i need your help.” I said.
“Ya please tell me, how can i help you ?” He politely asked.
“Umm, while coming to india i didn’t exchanged my money. And i have dollars with me, so can you..”
“You don’t worry about it, i will send a man, he will get you the currency. Only give me a call in the morning when you wake up.” He said.
“Thanx a lot Arvind. I hope tomorrow we get some good news” i said, more than telling him, i was convincing myself.
“Good Night Kristen, sleep now. We have a long day tomorrow.”
“Good night”. I laid on the bed, starring on the ceiling, figuring out why all this happened. Maisie should never have come to India. We were good at boston, she would have gone to office and i would write my projects. We would cook together and it would be perfect, just like old days. Those days would never come back again. Never ever, i thought. I opened up my phone gallery, checked out our pictures clicked at the convocation. How pretty maisie was looking. She was so happy. Everything was so good. I closed the gallery, while tears came off. I opened the dialer, saw her name “May see”. I used to tease her by this name. I dialled the number once again. It rang. I was sobbing, she was never ever gonna receive my call ever again.
“Hello” a deep voice said. I jumped. It was a man. I sat up. My whole body turning hot, my blood ran all over and my head giddy, i heard right. Somebody picked up her phone.
“Hello ? Who is this ? Where is my sister ? Where are you speaking from. Answer me where is my sister ??” I yelled my heart out
“We didn’t do anything. We found her on the river banks, we thought she was dead but”
To be continued…..
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Read – Sad poems about love