The Island that Changed my Life

Life was going smooth until I received a call from my uncle. He called me in the morning just to flip my life upside down. I was working as a sales executive in a renowned firm and was making a decent living. I lived in a small apartment. I owned a bicycle which was the only valuable possession I had for myself.

I was getting ready for my work when my uncle called. I picked up my phone and heard his trembling voice on the other end saying,

“You might have to rush home. How could I tell you…! Your mother passed away this morning.”

Not knowing what to do next, I kept standing in the same place for more than five minutes just holding my phone. My phone rang again. This time it was my manager. He called to check if I could come early. I informed him about my mother and left home to board a bus to my hometown.

I reached the house where my mother was living. People were already gathered and were waiting for my arrival. As soon as they saw me, one in the crowd shouted,

“Oh! There he is. Let us now start the formalities. He will have enough time to mourn before we finish our work.”

He spoke as if it meant nothing to him. Why would it?

‘My mother, being a single parent, raised me and helped me go to school without any help. My mother and I migrated and settled in this place when I was a kid. We do not have any support and were all by ourselves. So, it was obvious that her death would not matter to anyone.’

After all the rituals, I was sitting in the house. A couple of elders approached me with papers in their hand. They showed those papers to me and said, “These is the money your mother borrowed from us. You might have to finish paying these before you leave”.

‘I then knew how hard it would have been for her to raise a kid by herself. I knew it was my duty to clear those debts, but the debt amount was equal to sum of my salary for the next six years. At that moment, I felt my life was going into a dark space from where I could never be able to see the light again.’

I asked those elders to give me some time and I could pay those debts only if I returned to work. They accepted to let me go after I explained my obligation that I have towards the debts my mother had acquired.

Next morning, I packed my bags to return to my workplace. On the bus, I overheard two people talking about a two-week trip to Andaman and Nicobar Islands. I turned back to them and enquired about the trip. One of them said,

“We live in a community. Every year we plan a long holiday trip. This year we decided to visit Andaman and Nicobar Islands. We were discussing the trip and sorry if we disturbed your sleep.”

It suddenly occurred to me that I too needed a break from routine. I asked if I could go with them to Andaman. He replied,

“We don’t take strangers with us. All the families that are going on this trip had known each other for a long time. They might not be comfortable with a stranger.”

I pleaded with them, explained my situation and tried to convince them to allow me on this trip. They agreed to talk to others and inform me once they reached home. I gave my phone number to call me in-case they considered taking me on the trip.

I got off the bus after reaching my location. I waved ‘Good Bye’ to them and started walking towards my house. Next day, I got a call and the person introduced himself as Arun. He continued that it was his father with whom I spoke on the bus and that they were willing to take me with them to Andaman. They sent me the details about the trip and I paid the cost of the trip in advance.

Their plan was to travel on a ship from Visakapatnam to Andaman, stay there for two weeks and return back. I had never been on a ship before and it sounded frightening. But I still wanted to go and leave behind all the issues.

On the first day of the trip, I knew no one on that ship. I boarded the ship, found a place for myself and did not meet anyone the entire day. I was scared to look at the wide open ocean.

On the second day of the trip, while I was having breakfast, Arun approached me. He said, “I knew you have some issues in life. But the main purpose of this trip is to enjoy these two weeks, forgetting all our worries.”

I nodded my head. He continued, “I hope you enjoy the island trip today!”

I looked at him puzzled. He said, “Oh! You did not know? We will be halting near an island. We will reach the island in row boats, stay there for a while and return to the ship. They say this island is beautiful. Hope you will like it too.”

‘My heart beat started raising. I spent a day on that ship without even looking outside the window. Now I need to go on a boat to an island. It sounded crazy to me. But I also knew I had to take that first step to let go of my worries.’

I boarded one of the boats and we reached the island. I was stunned at first look of the island. I had never seen an island before. It was dazzling. I felt lost in nature already. I started walking towards the trees. They were tall and welcomed us with a dance to the wind. My feet refused to stop and I kept walking into the deep forest. I almost forgot that I was scared of the ocean or an unknown island.

After walking for an hour, I realised that I was deep into the island. I decided to walk back to my people. By the time I reached the shore, I was not able to find anyone. I ran along the coastline for a few meters. Still I was not able to see anyone or the boats. It took me a long time to realise that I was left behind and was stranded on that island. I shouted again and again for help. I waited four hours but no one returned.

The sun went down and I knew I had to survive until someone returned. I checked my Jacket. I had a knife that Arun gave me to cut big leaves and use them for plates.I had a water purifier too. I slept under a tree that night.

Next morning, I woke up and wished it was all a dream. Yet, I was there sitting under a tree on a deserted island. The Only hope I had was that the ship might return in two weeks and if they remember that I was left behind, someone might come looking for me.

I knew I had to survive two weeks with a jacket, a knife, and a water purifier.

I started exploring the island. There was a pool covered with green leaves in the middle of the island. There were numerous coconut trees and banyan trees. In one corner of the pool there were peach trees. I was also able to find some fishes in the pool. I knew I could eat coconut and peaches but I was clueless on how to catch those fishes in the pool.

The essential thing for surviving is food, so I started rationing all the eatables, so that whatever I had could last for two weeks. I picked a banyan tree near the pool and made a bed out of coconut leaves on one of its branches. I climbed up that branch every night to sleep as I felt the ground wasn’t safe to sleep the whole night. Every morning I started collecting coconuts and dumped them under the banyan tree.

Then I collected peaches and stored them in my jacket. I used the knife to make holes in the coconut shell and drank the water. Even-though the pool had freshwater, I was not ready to take my chances. So, I filtered them with the purifier and stored them in the coconut shells. I felt I was making progress with my survival instincts. But the only question that was pondering my mind was, ‘How to catch those fishes in the pond?’.

One evening, I was lying on the coconut leaves bed, looking at the pond beneath me. It looked beautiful with the white sand bordering it. I decided to sleep and turned towards the sky. It was a bright sky with stars twinkling and staring back at me. There was a spider web on the branch above me. I looked at the stars through the web. It felt like I was catching stars with a spider net.

Suddenly, an idea bloomed in my mind. I decided to try the idea the next day and went to sleep. Next day, as soon as I woke up, I dropped all the schedules for that day and started acting on my idea that came up the previous night. I took my jacket and started tearing the inner side of it with the knife. I took out the mesh layer. Knotted all the loose ends.

I went to the side of the pool where it was not deep. Placed the mesh cloth under water and put some coconut pieces and waited quietly. In a few minutes, small fishes came out to eat the coconut pieces. I then suddenly grabbed the ends of the cloth and pulled it out of the water. I lifted it up to see a handful of fishes jumping inside the mesh. I jumped into the sky in joy. I never thought that I could catch fish like this.

After fishing, it lifted my confidence that somehow I could make it out of this island. I decided to cook the fishes. I tried to recall all the videos that I used to watch on YouTube. I picked up a few sticks. Dig a small hole in the sand. Put some small stones into it. Placed the sticks on them. I used my eyeglass to get the reflection of the sun to fall on the sticks. In a few seconds the sticks started burning and I cooked the fish in the flame.

I took a piece of the cooked fish and tasted it. ‘Apart from the coconut and peaches, that was the first time I tasted real food in almost seven days on that island. I could still remember the taste of the fish and felt like it was the best meal I ever had.’

Another week passed. I was curious to find out if someone would come looking for me. I was in love with that island, but I knew I could not survive a long time without food. The island gave me the confidence to face any issue that came along the way. It also taught me that any problem could be solved by retrospection and not stressing about it. I even gained the confidence that I could pay back all my debts and lead my life forward. So, I was eagerly waiting to be rescued and was ready to face my life ahead with no fear.

Next morning, while I was asleep, I heard a voice from distance calling out my name. I woke up suddenly. It was Arun’s voice. I jumped down from the tree and ran towards the direction of the voice. It was pleasing and overwhelming to see Arun standing by the boat. I ran fast towards him, hugged him and cried out loud. He apologised for leaving me behind and asked how I survived. I said I would write it down on the journey back home and send him to his address.

I wrote the letter as promised and sent it to Arun. I thought I could share it with you too. I gained my confidence on that island while I was forced to survive. Every issue in life would scare you until you face it. Do not get scared, rather start with little steps that you could take and eventually you will have taken a bigger step that would solve the problem. Life is beautiful, live to the fullest.

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