Submitted into Contest #53 in response to: Write a story about another day in a heatwave. ... view prompt



Harikrishnan was standing at the Marina Beach and staring at the waves coming with a great force and striking the shore as though they were about to knock down heavily and destroy everything on their way but they simply receded slowly, losing all of their valour. It appeared as though an opening batsman entered the field under heavy claps and with a lot of fanfare but ended his show with a tame duck. The funny part was that it was getting repeated innumerable times, …. Every time striking the shore with the same vigour and receding with the same timid withdrawal. Occasionally, a fish or two also came with waters, but could not go back. Hari simply pushed them back into the waters. He thought for a while, if he were to be a fisherman, would he give up an easy catch that too coming to him and falling in his lap, without any of his efforts. Alternatively, if he were to be a fisherwoman, would she give up a solid offer to get the fish baked in the sun. For that matter the sun was at its peak at forty-one degree Celsius. In that heatwave any normal person would have gone mad. Harikrishnan was still standing at the shore unabatedly. His life was no better than the shameless waves. He had been aiming high and his efforts are met with failure.

The scorching sun above him seemed to have no effect on him. Because his internal anger and anguish on his failure to accomplish even small little things were hotter than the sun’s heatwave. He could sense the churning of a volcano in his abdomen. Yesterday night his father had blasted him on his incompetence and hurled harsh words. Reason? He was still unemployed. His father had spent a fortune on his education thinking that he would get a decent job immediately on completing his studies. He had high hopes that Hari would be sharing and shouldering the financial burden. In a middle-class family, to run a month’s expenses within the small means of income was a big jugglery. It was indeed a tight rope walking.

Harikrishnan, unaware of his family situation was in his own gay abandon. Meeting his friends, loafing around aimlessly, whiling away precious time …. All these activities seemed his routine. Even these nuisance affairs costed a lot. Harikrishnan’s father had suggested a few vacancies for job, which he flatly rejected, considering them to be below his dignity. He could not secure a job befitting his higher educational qualifications, nor could he stoop down to low-paying, non-technical manual jobs. Harikrishnan believed that he was born to scale greater heights. He considered himself an eagle to soar high. His father was suggesting him to be a cock, which at best could reach up to roof-top.

Looking at the waves striking and receding endlessly, his temper came down to an extent. He thought the waves were sending a message to him. They came rushing towards the shore with a big bang. But could they do anything worthwhile? The waves were no more waves when they receded. A mere withdrawal of waters, with no force or strength. A flattened shallow ebb. Tides were high but ebbs were low or just nothing. It was very difficult for him to accept that he was no more a strong forceful tide. He had already come to a stage where he was reduced to a mere shallow ebb. The painful harsh truth! The only problem was its acceptance by him.

He was still staring at the waves. This time at the ebbs. Oh! Again, a fish! But it could not go back to the sea. If it had to survive, it needed a push. The fish must have come riding the waves with a big dream of achieving something great on the shore, just like Harikrishnan. But alas! Harsh reality was that its very life was in danger. On its own it could do nothing. It needed a push. Harikrishnan filled the gap and pushed it into the waters. Now he understood that he and his life was quite akin to the fish stumbling and twitching for survival. All these days his father was doing this job of pushing the fish to water for survival. Unfortunately, he did not realise that. Now that awakening had happened.

He decided he would go back. He would say sorry to his father (which he knew would be a very difficult task for an ego ridden fellow like himself). He would write the application for the post his father had suggested. He would go and meet the person and submit the paper along with required certificates. Once he had decided what he should do, his anguish and agony vanished. He regained his cool and compose temperament. The minute his internal heat got reduced, he suddenly felt the external heat given out by the scorching sun. The torching inferno. Luckily his feet were in waters. Or else, the hot sands would simply would have taken a toll of his naked feet. Before reaching for his sandals, he wanted to look at the waves, as a gesture of thanks-giving for teaching a new life-lesson. Oh! how cute! A small fish swam to his feet. He took it in his palm and asked, “Are you the fingerling of today, going to be a shark of tomorrow?” Then he dropped it into the waters. It happily swam back hopping in between.

He was to retreat when he heard a shrill but a distinct scream of a small boy. He turned around to see from where it arose. There yonder, he could see a stretch of hand appearing and disappearing, again popping up and again disappearing. In a fraction of a second, he understood somebody was at grave risk. He lost not time. He jumped into the waters and swam in the direction of the hand that came up a while ago. He kept swimming, but could not get anything. A sudden streak of cold sweat enveloped him. “Oh! No. He should not be drowned. Let me try further in some more directions. He must have swallowed the water and must be gasping for breath. Or the waves must have tossed him hither and thither.” Harikrishnan wanted to be doubly conscious of his feet striking on something while swimming. He was aware that sea water would not allow anyone to drown that easily. Oh! There he could see a small boy being tossed up and held by the waves on their helm. He bucked up strength and swam faster and faster. Otherwise, the tides would carry the boy further beyond.

The tides at the shore and those from far the shore were very different. Very fierce and very forceful. After a long-drawn race against harsh tides he could get the boy and come back to shore safely. He had little knowledge on first aid treatment. But this much he knew that the water swallowed had to be spewed out. He pressed the boy’s abdomen and made the water to fount. The boy was out of danger. But both Harikrishnan and the boy were terribly exhausted. The sun above was another nuisance. Of all things what made him wonder was how the boy was allowed to be alone. Why no escort or guardian?

A policeman from nowhere appeared there to arrest Harikrishnan suspecting him to be on some heinous crime or suicide.  But on seeing him at some rescue operation, he changed his tone to normalcy. But he could not hide his irritation. He howled at Harikrihnan for being so careless and negligent.

“Is this the way you treat your son? If you were to be in a foreign country, you would be imprisoned for illtreating the child. Thank your stars. You are in India. Are a fool to come to the beach in this mad peak hour of heatwave? You are inviting problems on yourself and unnecessarily putting us also into troubles. You are an educated scoundrel. You need to be screwed. I was watching you from the Police Headquarters Office, there.”

Harikrishnan was simply bowled by the array of allegations made by the policeman. First, the policeman suspected him to be a criminal where as he was not. Then he thought that he was contemplating suicide, which again was not the case. Then he threw the last bomb shell – over the top --- boy he rescued was taken to be son and not contended with that, Hari was ill-treating the boy.

There was nothing wrong if the policemen were spying and viewed everyone with suspicion. But was it alright if they considered their mere assumptions as final facts and take action accordingly? Harikrishnan himself did not know who the boy was and how the boy happened to be in waters. So, he had a paramount duty to explain all points and make clear of facts thereby smash the hi-fi imaginations of the policeman. More than anything else, all of them needed to be away from the sun’s direct heatwave and urgently needed some shade. It would be foolish to expect a tree shade in the beach. Yes. But there was one. It was not a tree. It was a giant size umbrella, the typical one used by venders. Harikrishnan carried the boy to the shade and asked the policeman to follow him. It was only to confirm to the policeman that he was not running away as a criminal.

The policeman blew his whistle and a few people from nearby places came to the spot. The policeman thought he could boost his image by arresting the two – boy and his father. Instead, Harikrishnan needed his help in finding out the boy’s parents, and before that, some immediate medical help to restore the boy’s health. To cut the long story short, he laid bare truths about himself, about his motivational vigour and his reflex action to save a drowning boy. The policeman laughed aloud about the funny sequences of his assumptions and the actual happenings. Laughingly he added that at first a fish was given a new lease of life and now a drowning boy was rescued to safety.

The policeman went to his office and sent an SOS call to all police stations. “A small boy rescued at Marina Beach. Parents or guardians searching for the boy may approach this Police HQ.” Immediately they got a response from Tiruvaanmiyur police station. A couple had complained about a boy swallowed by the sudden tidal wave and went missing. It seemed that the worried parents had approached the fire brigade and local fishermen also for help and assistance in searching.

Nobody could have imagined that the boy on tidal waves of Tiruvaanmiyur beach could be tossed and drifted on surfing tides and found on shores of Marina Beach, a place roughly about ten kilometres away.  

Harikrishnan suggested to the policeman to send a ‘Whatsapp’ image of the boy to Tiruvaanmiyur police station and confirm the missing links. Even though it was difficult to believe a boy missing from one beach could be found at another one, about a distance of ten or so kilometres away, the policeman sent the message and also sent an email to that police station. It worked. Things became easy. The mystery got solved. The boy was found. The parents could at last find their son. They lauded the policeman’s timely action. A video chat was arranged to confirm details and complete the formalities.          

The policeman who wanted to boost his image through Harikrishnan got it now, in a different way. Earlier by arresting him – now by paying heed to his timely tips. In the new hustle and bustle of events, Harikrishnanan could not attend to his personal agenda of meeting his father and acknowledging his guidance and advices. He took permission from the policeman and headed towards his home.

The sun was still at his peak. The scorching heatwave was at its full fury. The temperature might go beyond even forty-one Celsius. Was that a matter to be worried about now? Harikrishnan did not bother about how hot the day was. His father was on leave and hence at home. Harikrishnan felt shy to seek apology but narrated all events in the sequence as it took place.

His father being as magnanimous as he was, readily replied, “You are like that fish. A small push is enough for you to get back and grow faster. Any job, every job gives you lot of experiences and that is the foundation for your next achievement. As you already said, ‘a fingerling of today will be the shark of tomorrow.’ Be it summer or be it winter. Blow hot Blow cold. It will grow.”

Harikrishnan simply nodded. No argument on that. The sun was still at its peak. There was no sign of respite from the heatwave. As for Harikrishnan there was sunlight but no heatwave in the sunlight.

August 07, 2020 18:21

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K V Chidambaram
23:05 Aug 13, 2020

An interesting and realistic story to say the least. Nice use of parallelism and efficient application of the inner and external worlds. Best Wishes.


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C. R.
18:11 Aug 13, 2020

I like the imagery of water, helping Hari to think through his life's direction! The portion about saving the child from drowning, in my opinion, gave Hari another layer to his personality-a layer that might not be seen had he just remained contemplating to himself! Good job on the short story! If you find the time, check out my story Choose Your Own Adventure, and let me know what you think! :)


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