Survival | Sunday Observer


14 February, 2021

Sarah and Nicolas, the soon-to-wed couple bring Samara across the border to Canada, hidden in their vehicle as she’s wrongfully accused of carrying illegal drugs. They pretend to be married although they aren’t. At the border, Sarah is arrested for carrying an ornamental gold pagoda in her handbag. She’s bailed out the following day. She wonders why Nicolas and Samara don’t turn up to inquire after her and, learns later that they’re in a secret affair and they’ve betrayed her. She attends the court case alone, pays a fine and faces a suspended sentence of six months imprisonment. The following week, she flies to a city far away.

Episode 5

Sarah found herself a little apartment; it was her new home. She began her search for a job the day after she arrived. It was a wide search which ended up in a few hours. She was in a booming little town and, she gained from it although she wasn’t given much hope at the beginning. She walked from place to place, looking for survival until she reached the right place, a restaurant that was waiting for her. She walked in. The young girl sitting at the front desk welcomed her thinking that she was a guest. Really, she was. But, she was mistaken to be a guest who had come to dine.

“I’m here to meet the manager.” Sarah explained.

The girl walked in and informed the manager about the visitor and Sarah awaited the manager, in fact, the manageress - the most welcoming lady she had ever met. She was greeted with questions and admiration. Questions were asked about Sarah’s visit although the lady guessed why she had come.

“I’m on the lookout for some work.”

The lady smiled as it was the most expected and commonly known need.

“These days we don’t hire servers. But we do have some work in the kitchen, something like dish washing. Will you be interested?”

Sarah was over the moon. She knew that it was a flourishing town but, she never guessed that she could be that quick in finding a source of income.

“Yes, sure, I’m interested.” She gave a quick answer.

The manager gave her a business card; Sarah had a quick look at it, only to grasp the first name of the lady - Cecille.

“This is my number. I can’t have an interview with you now, so call me next week, I’ll designate a time for an interview.”

Sarah was jubilant about her find as much as her face revealed and Cecille the manager could gather it well from her face.

Sarah returned home, happy, and about a week later she faced the interview. However, it didn’t appear like a formal interview. She was already appointed on the day she met the manager.

Dish washing was a good pastime. It gave her pleasure. It was a rare form of pleasure for the majority, anyway. Sarah made sure that all the dishes were spotless; she ensured that all the dirt was rinsed before they went in the sanitiser. She felt very happy when they came out like brand new. She was paid every two weeks and was happy about what she made. Actually, it was a lot for the gratification she was receiving. No one could understand it. No one could sense it. It was nowhere near human identification, so she was sympathized.

One evening, she fell into conversation with her work colleague, Amy, who knew that Sarah found contentment in dish washing, although not many did. Amy watched her closely, her diligent hands. The dishes were put to drip-dry. It was a natural way of drying dishes; Sarah liked it. And to Amy’s surprise, Sarah became talkative suddenly.

“I think air drying is the best method of drying washed dishes.”

Amy smiled. She enjoyed Sarah’s rarely seen talkativeness. Also, she was going through her own understanding of Sarah. It was a good one. She loved it.

“When there’s a quick need for dishes and you don’t have any washed ones, you need to wipe them dry, and that’s okay too.” Amy explained.

“Yes.” Sarah said, nodding her head.

Dishes were getting washed little by little and they were placed on a rack. It was beautiful to watch and rare to adore. She experienced a kind of trance in this relaxing endeavour. It was deeply satisfying.

“But if they’re washed after every meal, you wouldn’t really have to face anything like that.” Amy explained further.

“Anything like what?” Sarah asked.

“Not having them dry on time.” Amy confirmed.

Sarah was drawn away from the dishes for a brief time. She wasn’t sure if Amy was right in her conclusion. However, she couldn’t remember any occasion that there was a sudden need for dishes or a time they ran out of them. But the non-occurrence would be the very reason to expect it, whatever the occurrence was, on whatever grounds. Sarah was suddenly overcome by some kind of understanding.

“But there can always be an emergency.” She burst out.

The words came quick and she realised that she had voiced them together with Amy. And then they both burst into laughter. Yes, they both knew that there could be an emergency need for dry plates, just like for anything else.

So passed days, months and a whole year. Every evening she took the bus to work and returned home. During the day, she followed a course to become a teacher.

After a day of laborious work, she came home, calmed down and relaxed. Some evenings she took a walk on the river bank. What glory it was!

Sarah didn’t know how to swim. She dreaded water; she had an instinctive phobia to it. Water up to her knee level made her think of the worst as she thought she was going to drown. It was the sky and the stars she wandered around, not the water and the corals. They stood contradictory to each other. She didn’t wander among the corals as much as she did among the stars. The river bank was one of her fondest places to relax. She could see rowboats but only a few. Some people were fishing, not as a hobby but, it was simply their living. She walked closer to a fisherman and saw the fish he had in a basket. Some creatures were still alive. She saw their struggling to live. Her heart was filled with sympathy, thinking of their right to live.

“Do you come here every day?” Sarah asked, trying to get into a conversation with the fisherman.

“Almost,” he said.

It was a rare moment that a passerby promenading by the river side had stopped to talk and, no wonder he was alarmed. But, he had no question about it.

Sarah observed the basket further and noticed that some fish had given up the struggle and were simply resting in peace. She tried to think and feel like the ones that were still facing the battle. It was not different from the struggle of a human being drowning in water.

It was horrifying as Sarah herself dreaded water like no other. She tried to reason whether it was a fair judgment for the fisherman, as it was his living and, also if it was fair by the living beings to forego their lives simply because the living of another needed to be justified. She also tried to view the same from the angle of those who consumed them. Anyway, she had no argument about the non-living as there was no life there.

“Do you eat fish?” Sarah asked.

“No, I only catch them.” The fisherman confirmed.

But, Sarah ate fish. She wasn’t a vegetarian.

Her visits to the community convent were equally significant. That’s where she met Sister Priscilla for the first time. Sarah’s attraction was the library attached to the convent where she found her interest and also some study material. At the very first sight, she felt connected to Sister Priscilla.

“Are you new to this town?” The nun asked her one day, following her smile and sitting next to her in the library.

“Yes.” Sarah replied.

“I thought so. I haven’t seen you much.”

Sarah looked deep into her face; she thought that Sister Priscilla was an older version of herself. Yes, they looked alike, to a great extent and, after a brief moment the nun held her silence, reading her in-depth. They both spoke nothing and everything. It was their first meeting and Sarah came home with her heart full.

The next day was the best day of all. She was returning home in a bus and, she was about to come across the most awaited, the most destined. She couldn’t escape it; she was stopped. Yes, she was just stopped.

To be continued next week