Abi and Adhi were silently walking through the forest towards the elephant beach. Adhi was keen on starting a conversation but was totally confused on how to start. He didn’t want to start with her fear again because he feared that it might damage the trust that had started to bloom in her heart on him.
After thinking for a while he started hesitatingly.
“So, you do fine arts degree right?” he started talking to her hoping that this topic might make her comfortable.
Abi was walking with her heads down when she heard Adhi. She shot up at once like she was not expecting any conversation.
She paused for a second and answered, “Hmm… Yes,” and again she resumed to walk with her heads down.
Adhi was so stubborn to not stop the chat. He again asked, “So, you do draw?”
“Hmm…” she replied.
“Also, do you know how to paint?”
Abi stared at Adhi giving him a what-do-you-want-now look and then she said, “Yes,”
Adhi was fed up with yes or no questions. He then asked, “What else they teach in fine arts?”
You cannot answer yes or no for this question, Abi.
Abi took a deep breath and asked, “Are you going to pursue fine arts?”
Adhi was taken aback by her question. He then slowly got hold of words for his defense. “N…No… Just asking,” he said and staggered.
Abi smirked a little and said, “Fine arts is a big field which has a lot of careers within it like craft artist, fine artist, multimedia artist, photography, dancing, filming, etc, etc,”
“Wow! That’s great. So, in which field you are great?” asked Adhi and that’s all Abi needed. She started with her interest in drawing and went on explaining him everything till she got a seat in fine arts.
Adhi even found some details as too technical for him to understand. Yet, he encouraged Abi to interact with him freely. By that he hoped to break the bridge between them.
Time went on and they continued to chat about their studies until Adhi spotted Diya standing near the rock alone.
“Diya,” he muttered looking at the direction of Diya. Only then Abi followed his gaze and saw Diya standing alone. Both ran towards her.
Diya too saw them and gave them a confused look.
“What are you doing here, Diya?” Adhi asked her.
Diya stood there still thinking whether to tell him or not.
“Diya, what are you doing here?” This time Abi asked the same question a little louder.
Diya looked at Abi worried and said, “I….I saw…Inte…Intel…” Diya tried really hard to remember her name but in vain.
“What? Whom did you see? Did you talk to a stranger?” Abi started shouting at Diya which made Diya nervous.
“Abi, relax. Why are you shouting like this for no reason?” Adhi replied a little irritated.
Abi instantly got hurt by Adhi’s words and she silently hung her head low. Adhi understood that she was hurt and said, “Sorry Abi. I didn’t mean to hurt you. You relax. I will handle Diya,” Abi nodded.
He turned towards Diya and asked, “So, tell me, baby. What happened?”
Diya narrated everything that had happened a few minutes back with Intelina.
Abi and Adhi listened to her with a horror stuck in their face. When Diya completed everything, Abi and Adhi shared a worried and confused look. So many thoughts filled their mind.
“Uncle, do you understand what I am saying?” Diya asked bringing Abi and Adhi back to the present.
“Yeah, baby. I understood everything,” Adhi played along.
“So, take me to Lara aunty now,” Diya screeched like there was no tomorrow.
“What? Lara? Oh! N…No… baby. We can’t do that,” Adhi said.
“Why? I know she is here. She came with us right?” Diya was in no position to change her mind.
“Yeah, they are here. But I don’t know where they are staying. I don’t even have their contacts. No one has it actually.” Adhi answered her patiently.
Diya’s face turned low and tears started forming in her eyes. “How will I inform her about the ring? Inte… that lady told me that we all are in danger and only the ring can protect us.”
It was really tough for Abi and Adhi to console Diya. Abi searched for something to make her relieved. Then she came up with one thing.
“Diya, tomorrow we will do shopping and later will visit Radhanagar beach right?” Abi started enthusiastically.
Diya meekly nodded.
“Lara aunty too has planned for that. So, you can meet her there,” The next second Diya’s face lit up and she was finally convinced for time being.
“Hmm… okay, it’s time. Come let’s go,” said Adhi and lifted Diya in his arms.
Abi saw this but she didn’t restrict either Diya or Adhi. Great improvement.
When they were about to move towards their family, Ahana came running to them and felt relieved on seeing Diya with Adhi and Abi.
Both stared at Ahana questioningly.
“I looked away just for a second and Diya was not there. I was scared and came running in search of her,” Ahana blurted out everything.
“Hmm… how careless you are?” Abi said in a complaining tone. Ahana always wondered whether Diya is her child or Abi’s child.
Ahana gave Abi a sorry look and took Diya from Adhi. When Ahana went far away from them Abi turned towards Adhi. Her face had thousands of questions.
“Adhi, what had gotten into her mind? Why is Diya behaving like this?” asked Abi.
“Behaving like what?” Adhi’s question stunned Abi.
“Adhi, didn’t you see? You heard everything that Diya said right?”
“Yes, I did. So what?”
“So what? How can you just ask like this Adhi?” Adhi too knew how serious it was. But he enjoyed teasing Abi.
Adhi just stared at her and Abi continued.
“I don’t know why Diya is blabbering something. Is she playing with us? Why should she be so serious if she is just playing? I am so scared of her behavior. I can’t understand why she is lying?” Abi poured her heart out and looked at Adhi.
Adhi gave her a stern look and said, “Diya is not lying,”
“What? What do you mean by that? Is that all bluff is true?” Abi was getting upset.
“I don’t know,” Adhi replied shortly. He was immersed in his own thoughts.
Abi gazed at Adhi quizzically for more than a minute and then asked him, “Is that too your plan?”
“What? Hey no, not at all. I don’t know anything about this. Trust me,” He literally begged to Abi.
Abi then averted her gaze to the other side and nodded. An awkward silence filled the air around them.
After some time Abi started, “How can you say that Diya is not lying?”
Adhi smirked at Abi and said, “I think it’s not a big deal for a psychiatrist to guess which is true and which is not,”
“That means whatever Diya was telling will actually happen? Is there someone like the queen of the ocean and is there whales planning to attack us?” Abi asked with horror in her voice.
“Abi, as I said, I can only tell who is speaking the truth and who is not. But I am not sure what will happen. There are two possibilities that I can guess as of now,”
“And what are they?”
“One is, all that Diya had told might have actually happened, which according to us, is not practically possible,”
“And the next possibility is?”
“Diya came here searching for her ball. There she might have met someone. They have seen this little girl and might have cooked up fantasy stories that will excite her. So, in both cases, Diya is not lying,” Adhi finished his part.
Abi felt relieved and said, “I am sure it must be the second possibility. There is no need to worry at all,”
“No Abi, we can’t just omit the first possibility,” Adhi stated after a long pause.
“Why? Does the psychiatrist start believing in fantasy?” Abi said and gave a naughty smile.
“I do not believe the fantasy. But things that had happened in the past make sense now,” Adhi said with at most seriousness.
“What do you say, Adhi?” Now, Abi too turned serious.
“Yes Abi, when we first came to Andaman, we heard rumors of whale attack on a snorkeling guide right?”
Abi too remembered the conversation that they had in the car while driving from the airport.
“Yeah Adhi, you are right. Some said it was a whale. But then everyone said it was just a rumor,”
“Hmm… but now, hearing Diya’s words, it didn’t sound like just a rumor,” he said.
Abi’s eyes widened and she gasped in shock.
“Is it whales attacking humans for real?” She cupped her mouth to control herself from shouting.
“Shhh…Don’t talk to anyone about this, Abi. It will create unnecessary tension. Okay?” asked Adhi to which Abi nodded.
“So, didn’t we need to talk to Lara about this?”
“How can we just walk in and tell them everything? They won’t believe,”
“What to do then? Whales can attack us anytime right?”
“Abi, don’t be too stressed. Nothing will happen to us. Think of the boat ride. We were expecting death but all of a sudden it came to halt.”
“Yes. But that was because of the team that arrived at the right time,”
“No. I don’t think so. That might be just a coincidence,”
“I can’t get you Adhi,”
“Try to remember this, Abi. Just before the boat came to halt, James and Lara were rolling in the floor along with the ring. We all saw that ring, right?”
“Yes, but what is there in it?”
“I can’t figure it clearly. But I guess there is some link between the ring and the attack,” Adhi said.
“What? Adhi, why are talking like an astrologer?”
“No Abi, I am not. I am trying to put the correct pieces in place. Let me tell you another thing. Diya said that lady who is the queen of ocean looked like a Lara. Also, she said to Diya that the ring was hers. I see some link here. Lara was like that lady whose ring was with Lara. That means, the ring is with different persons but it is with the person having the same face,”
Abi’s lips parted on hearing Adhi’s words. She took a deep breath and asked, “So, we have to go with the first possibility?”
“I fear we have to,” said Adhi and both of them shared a death glare.
"What to do now?" asked Abi in utter shock.
"We have to meet Lara and James and tell them everything that we had figured out,"
Abi nodded and both approached towards their family who were waiting for them to return to the room.