Lost And Found
Lost And Found13 mins 262 13 mins 262
I am Anna, 11 years old and my sister Emma is 8. It has been 78 days we are living in this broken down cruise. We embarked on our 7 day trip starting from Cape Town to Port Louis in Mauritius. Their were about a hundred passengers on `Admiral' our cruise. The trip began with great enthusiasm. Admiral though one small ship had an array of amenities like media room, fitness centre, coffee bar, wine bar, library, children's play area, medical facilities, restaurant etc. We booked two rooms, one for parents and another for me and Emma.
The rooms were decently sized with a large bed, couch, TV and bathroom. We were all set and ship sailed smoothly towards the first stop Port Elisabeth. It was a lovely weather with clear blue sky, cool breeze and smell of the sea. Soon we made ourselves comfortable enjoying the amenities on cruise and making friends. Three days just passed by and we reached Maputo, capital and most populous city of Mozambique. It was a two hour stop at this city known for its beautiful colonial architecture. This was the last break before our next stop Port d'Ehola, southern Madagascar.
Up till now I along with my sister and other kids have explored every nook and cranny of the ship. We use to play all sorts of games through out the day, wander about the ship, even Bridge - the area of the ship typically located in the bow where the captain and crew control and manage the vessel. So we were quite familiar with the place now. It had not been more than three hours since we left Maputo that the weather began to change, it got cloudy and darker as if a storm was on its way. But we didn't bother and continued with our excursions on ship. We were playing hide and seek... yes hide and seek and Emma and I hid inside the pantry, the best place where I was sure no one will find us. And as it happened no one found us.
A few moments after we hid in the pantry the boat began to plunge from side to side and this movement got more and more furious. I could here the whooshing sound of the wind hitting hard against the ship. A frightening feeling grew inside me. I was far away from our room and was in dilemma whether to stay put or go out to be with my parents.. they'll be worried sick. Now we could here the thunderstorm and wind coming down with more force, making the ship tilt and furniture slide.
We held tightly to whatever support available to avoid sliding along with furniture. Emma panicked and I was scared as well. When I saw the fear in her eyes I realized we should be with our parents. I tried to walk towards the door holding on to whatever support that was available. The storm was getting violent by time, I managed to reach to the pantry door and tried to open it up but my worst fear came true when the door wouldn't open..... it was jammed. We exchanged a glance of dismay, but their was no time to waste, we took shelter under the sturdy shelf to protect ourselves. It was wait and watch now.
We were sitting close to each other waiting for someone to find us and the storm to end. This violent superstorm was getting wilder, we could only imagine by the sounds of lightning, heavy downpour and constant announcement made by captain to evacuate the ship. Their was no way for us to connect to our parents or to anyone. We made a number of attempts to open that door but in vain. Hours passed by, Emma slept with her head on my shoulder. I couldn't sleep. What if no one came to rescue us?
I lost the track of time.
The uproar of storm was still clearly audible but captain's voice got fader and fader. Emma was still sleeping and ship was swinging wildly for quite a long time as if it was without any control. Their was a loud thumping sound as if the ship has barged into some rock and then a halt. The ship halted. The loud sound with sudden jerk woke Emma. She looked around and then looked at me intriguingly, Waiting to hear that we were safe. It was still raining and lightning showed from the window every now and then. All sorts of thoughts crossed my mind. I gathered the courage to leave the spot I was holding on on to how long I don't know. Emma came along and once again we tried to open the door. It opened this time!. May be the ship's sudden crash might have unlocked it.
Without wasting anytime we ran towards our room but the scene outside was very unpleasant. All the thing were thrown in disarray as if the ship was attacked by Pirates and ransacked. It was dark and cold and still raining. We reached on the deck, the ship had hit a piece of land and parked safely. I shouted' 'Mom' 'Dad' 'anyone '...but all I heard was the sound of waves against the ship. Emma and I frantically looked every where on the ship ...no one.
How could they leave without us? Are they still alive? Did they look for us? Will they come back for us? What should I do now? All sorts of questions flooded my mind. Emma held my hand tightly and asked "Are we all alone on this ship now Anna?" I hugged her and replied " Yes Emma that's what it looks like, but mom and dad will soon be here to take us back." But till then we'll have to stay here.
We went to our room, the furniture had moved and TV had fallen down and broke, we couldn't have stayed there. I packed our belongings and Emma helped me.
It would be better to stay in a room closest to the pantry. On our way to search for the room I could have only imagined what this storm did, How people must have ran chaotically to save themselves How our mom and dad would have looked around for us in all that commotion? What about our friends playing hide and seek? Were they still in the ship like us?
We found a habitable room close to the pantry. Emma suggested that we keep a few things handy if were alone on the ship waiting for help. I was surprised by her presence of mind in such a situation. One thing I was sure of was not leaving the ship and venturing around on the island. We had have all the things here along with safety. We gathered battery operated torches, medical kit, mosquito spray, a pocket knife Emma found lying on the deck. Then we went to the pantry and secured all the food we could. The storm was not completely clear till then, it was still cloudy and breezy. It was almost evening and was getting dark. We returned to our new room but before that had a big supper.
Fortunately there was lots of food on cruise and not damaged during storm, well most of it was good. Our room was warm and cozy and was on quite safe location on ship, the door had a latch as well. I tried to keep Emma busy or distracted. Got a few good books left from cruise library. The only thing that was scary was there was no electricity so it used to get pitch dark from dusk to dawn. The island gave me the creeps.....I was living in fear all day and night....that someone will come out of that dense forest and kill us!
Days passed, then weeks and months, no one came back. Did anyone even try to look for us? What place is this?
"It was the same routine every single night. Or at least for the last 78 nights. Drink warm milk with a teaspoon of sugar. Brush my teeth. Make sure the curtains are closed all the way to the very end (no gaps, thank you!). Moisturize. My pillow fluffed just the right amount. Set a redundant alarm for 6am. Close my eyes. Go to sleep.
All for what? I open my eyes to see it is 3:13am, every single night!
Every night in that moment, all I hear is silence. The silence is so loud, I barely hear my pounding heart. An eerie feeling creeps over me as I see through the (now open) curtains, the ice glazes over the windows from the sudden cold. A smell wafts through. One that is so familiar. I know what it is, I have definitely smelt it before, yet I cannot name it. All these days, I have never been able to remember it. I have tried day after day, night after night, still zilch. What now....?"
Enough I thought, I need to go out there and face it. My little sister is sleeping blissfully on the other side. I couldn't get a clear vision of outside due to fog on window glass.
Our supplies are getting scarce now. But giving up was not an option for me, I had to look out for Emma. I decided to explore the forest. Anyways soon we'll be out of food, we have learnt to live in dark as the batteries did not last for long. We'll need wood for fire and light. And that smell! I need to find the source of that smell, not being able to remember it is giving me sleepless nights. it's something pleasant for sure but I am not able to put my finger on it.
Next morning we prepared ourselves to explore the island. Kept the necessary things in the shoulder bag. Emma took her paints to mark our trail. It was difficult to find a way to get off the cruise. It seems to be completely untouched dense forest, that no one have ever ventured here. I wondered will it of any use going inside. I wanted to give it a try, I looked towards Emma she was all ready to go. So we began. After walking for a mile inside the forest we were awe struck to see a spread of approximately two meter long yellow and red flowers. I couldn't take my eyes off it. It was a beautiful view and it felt even better to my eyes who had not seen anything except a broken ship since last 78 day. We continued walking through this vast expanse of flowers. It felt it will never end.
Finally we decided to return it so we reach safely to our abode before it gets dark. I turned around and was horrified at the thought that our way back will not be easy to find. Every thing looked same, while walking through these flowers Emma forgot to mark trail. Just at the thought of spending the night in the forest terrified me. While I was trying to keep my calm and think of a way out, Emma started to move ahead looking for footprints we may have left. Thank god for this girl's presence of mind! I followed her lead, checked on the other side. We had to be very careful not to walk over our original path.
I was on verge of shedding a few tears which I was withholding since a few weeks now. I looked up and saw Emma smiling at a distance, she found the trail! I ran towards her and hugged her tightly and those tears rolled out of my eyes anyway. Luckily Emma did not close the lid of the paint bottle tightly and it kept dripping all the way.... we got our way back. But it was getting late now, we needed to hurry up. It was already evening and would be dark in an hour or so.
Just when we were about to finish the spread of those flowers, I caught the whiff of that smell haunting me day and night. But I had no time wait and think, we needed to be in our safe room before dark.
Back in our room, though exhausted we didn't want to go to bed. Emma said " Anna it felt nice in middle of those flowers, we should go again tomorrow. Do you know they were Kahili Ginger plants. Their scent is unforgettable. They are most fragrant during the night. I read it all in this book from library." I was in my own world thinking about that smell. I replied," Sure Emma, now you should finish this milk and go to bed." I followed the same routine and tried to sleep as well.
I did not open my eyes this time at 3:13, I tried hard to recollect and it all came to me Kahili Ginger... it's the fragrance from grandfather's garden. We use to visit him very often. I was 4 or may be 5 then. I loved to spend time with him. He was a sailor and use to tell us all sorts of stories to me. He never returned from his last expedition. They say his ship mysteriously disappeared. Mom says he is not going to come back now, its been 4 years. Somehow I believe he'll come back. I remember him fondly.His garden was decorated with these yellow flowers. It always fascinated me. I last met him when I was 7. It's the same smell. In the middle of the night this smell that wakes me up.
The chain of my thoughts was broken by the 6 am alarm. I woke up confused. Emma was still asleep. I freshened up and went outside. I went up on the uppermost deck' it was a sunny day. I looked around that Admiral our cruise is stuck in a creek in such a fashion that it was out of clear sight of an outsider. I remembered how grandpa told me various ways to send SOS signals in case of danger! That fragrance was trying to give this message to me, grandpa is looking out for us. Tears rolled down my eyes, I ran frantically to wake Emma up.
I explained to Emma that we'll send a SOS signal when some other vessel passes from here. We'll need a glass to reflect the light and binoculars to locate such aircraft or boat. Emma brought the loose mirror from our previous room and binoculars from captains cabin. They were in good shape thankfully. We came on the uppermost deck and waited for some vessel to pass. We had very limited view but we were hopeful and excited. We waited all day but in vain.
It's been more than two and a half months, and I realised that may be our ship is positioned in such a manner and covered around by forest that it is not visible. Even if some rescue teams might have come, they could have easily missed Admiral. Thought of grandpa gave me strength, we are alive and safe up till now, we'll definitely get out of this.
Next day we gathered a few more mirrors we could find. Emma brought a bright red colour T-shirt from somewhere and put it on a long stick just like flag and up we went. There was a this roof like structure higher than upper deck. I climbed up with binoculars and a piece of mirror. Emma stayed down with another mirror. After waiting for two hours just when I was about to come down, as I couldn't have stayed longer for I was exhausted standing under the direct
Sun I saw a small private yacht... I screamed with excitement and used the mirror to send signal, Emma tried to the same thing. The yacht was hovering in that area but somehow our signal was not reaching them. Emma tried to use a few mirrors together to send a stronger signal. I was trying to get the right angle as well. I yelled, " Flag Emma, hand over the flag to me" which she did promptly. I swayed the flag in air as high as I could to get the attention. The yacht halted then started coming toward our side, I continued swaying the flag....Yes!!! it's coming for us. I looked through binoculars, "It's mom and dad Emma!" I yelled. We're going back home. I stayed there until I was sure they find us. I got down when they entered the creek. I hugged Emma tightly, both jumping with joy.
At last the yacht reached us and our parents jumped out. We ran towards them."Mom! Dad!" we yelled. As we hugged, a sudden warmth spread throughout my body. We were safe! I smiled as joy overcame me. We walked back to the boat. I took one last glance at the island and the broken down cruise that had been our home for over 2 months. I knew that even though I had enough of this adventure, I'd be ready for another one pretty soon.