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We might undermine its contribution, but insanity has undoubtedly played an important role, in our evolution. It may have all started, when an insane primate, overcome by its curiosity, but driven by its need to survive, renounced the safety of a tree and walked into the treacherous grasslands, to explore the unknown. We humans wouldn’t have been here, if it weren’t for him. Joseph and Rosanna weren’t bereft of this insanity either, much like their distant ancestor. In fact, they were brimming with it, rather unbecoming of their age, as per societal norms.
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“I am okay with a lunch date. But it can’t be at your house”, said Rosanna, assertively.
“Where then?”, asked Joseph, tempered slightly by Rosanna’s continued resistance.
“How about a lunch date on a houseboat?”, replied Rosanna, letting out a cheeky grin.
There was silence. Joseph couldn’t understand what had hit him. This was unexpected and he seemed astounded by the sheer audacity of the plan, as well as the imagination behind it. He was lost for words.
“Has the cat got your tongue? I thought that the falcon, would love to see the salmon, drifting in the clear waters”, asked Rosanna.
“How do I get a houseboat organized at such a short notice?”, murmured Joseph to himself, trying desperately to regain his composure. Rosanna noticed that he was getting increasingly impatient, but was secretly enjoying the discomfort, she was causing him.
“I am sure you have the network to get this organized, since you’ve been here for the last ten years”, said Rosanna, mischievously. She proved, that insanity can be unpredictable and that it is not bound by age. With experience we do learn to tame it, but that was clearly not the case here. There was a rousing sense of abandon in the air and caution was being thrown to the winds of Kochi, that morning!
Joseph got out of the car, took a few jittery steps and with his back towards Rosanna, pulled out his mobile phone from the pocket and furtively dialled a number.
“I need your help. What are you doing after taking the tourists out for a boat ride?”, asked Joseph.
“Nothing much Sir! I was thinking of taking a break today to enjoy the rain”, replied Thankappan.
Pic credit: The Statesman
“Do you still organize houseboat cruises?”, asked Joseph, almost whispering.
“Yes, I do. But I will need to check with the houseboat owner”, replied Thankappan, perplexed.
“Will you be able to organize a cruise today, including lunch on the boat for two?”, asked Joseph. The words were uttered hurriedly.
There was silence.
“If I may ask, why is there such an urgency?”, asked Thankappan.
“Trust me, it’s very important. Let’s just say that my dignity is in your hands!”, pleaded Joseph.
“Is it, that lady?”, asked Thankappan.
“Yes, and it’s a lunch date”, replied Joseph, worriedly. Thankappan couldn’t control his laughter and let out a giggle.
“What is the matter?”, asked Joseph, visibly annoyed.
“Sir, don’t worry, it’ll be done. I’ll ensure everything is organized to your satisfaction. Let’s meet at 12 noon”, replied Thankappan.
“Okay”, said Joseph, taking in a deep breath. He was both relieved and ecstatic but did not let the euphoria trickle into his voice. He turned around and got into the car confidently. Putting his phone back into the pocket, he started wiping the rain drops off his gold-rimmed spectacles. Rosanna had her eyes firmly on him, watching every move of his. But she didn’t utter a word.
Joseph put on his spectacles and said, “Madam, I am happy to inform, that a beautiful houseboat, will be awaiting your presence at 12 noon today”. Rosanna smiled and replied, “I am impressed. Will see you at 12”, saying which, she got out of Joseph’s car and got into her white sedan.
The curious onlookers, who were standing in front of the tea-stall, across the road, were wondering what had just happened. Some of them, were nodding their heads and uttering something to each other. Joseph and Rosanna were oblivious to all this. A sudden rush of insanity had made them adventurous. At that moment, they were 25-year-olds once again. Both waved at each other, as their cars momentarily departed in opposite directions, much to the amusement of the onlookers.
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By noon, as promised, everything was in readiness, for the much-anticipated lunch date, of the two exuberant 70-year-olds. Although born into a fisherman’s family, Thankappan had spent many years in the Middle East working as a tourist guide, bell boy and cook, which had turned him into an expert, at getting things organized. Upon returning to his homeland, he had invested in various businesses, which were all doing reasonably well. Fishing was not to sustain a living, but he was doing it more out of passion. His resourcefulness and hard-working nature had always appealed to Joseph, ever since their first meeting, three years back. Joseph couldn’t trust anybody else, to get this job done for him and Thankappan did not disappoint. He was putting the final touches to the dishes, he had made.
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An elaborate lunch was on offer, which included some of the most delectable dishes of the region. Cyril pitched in and assisted Thankappan, efficiently. The smell of freshly ground pepper, cardamom and other exotic spices, emanating from the kitchen of the majestic Kettuvallam (houseboat), which had once seduced the Greeks, Chinese, Jews and Arabs, was simply intoxicating. The weather too, was just right for a romantic lunch, beside the picturesque backwaters. There was a steady drizzle, but not strong enough to quell their chances of an idyllic cruise through the lagoon. Thus, Thankappan started the engine and steered the boat into the middle of the lake and they were off for a magical ride!
Joseph and Rosanna were seated in the dining area of the houseboat, just behind the steering wheel, ably managed by Thankappan. They were out in the blissful open yet enjoying their private little space, soaking in all the goodness. The cruise was as spellbinding, as the vessel in which they were travelling. Every now and then, the view would miraculously transform into something totally unexpected. At one moment, they were gliding through narrow canals, passing under bridges, with coconut trees swaying in the breeze on either side, while in another moment, they were in the middle of the sea with only the azure waters to behold, for as far as the eyes could see! How could you not fall in love amidst such serenity and blissfulness?
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“So, the falcon has kept his promise. Isn’t it?”, asked Joseph, taking a sip of his favourite poison.
“Oh yes, he did. I was never in doubt”, replied Rosanna, sporting an impish look.
Joseph had never been the romantic sort, but ever since he had met Rosanna, that morning, there was something about her, which he found attractive. This trait was absent in the Rosanna, he once knew. It was almost irresistible. But what it was, he couldn’t pinpoint. However, the last thing he wanted to do, was to come across as being improper. He valued his dignity and public image immensely. Moreover, he wasn’t sure if it was love he was feeling.
“Why did you say yes to this lunch date?”, asked Joseph.
Rosanna took a sip from her glass and replied, “I have the same question for you. Why did you make this insane proposal to me?”.
There was silence. The wind had just picked up and it propelled the boat to gather speed.
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Part 3 (concluding part) of the short story coming soon…