“What do you mean by you can’t give the ring?” Adhi was scared by James’ words.
“That means I am not interested in giving it. Simple,” said James and scoffed.
Abi and Ahana were shocked at his strange behavior. Everyone fell silent not wanting to talk to James.
After a few seconds, Abi sounded low. “Why are you behaving like this, James? You were different a few hours back and now you behave totally different,”
James understood very well what Abi meant. Yes! I was begging them to find Lara and now I am shouting back at them.
James closed his eyes and took a deep breath. A long sigh escaped his mouth. He then saw all the others present in the hall for one more time and started to talk. This time his voice was calm and composed.
“I am really sorry. Every one of you helped me to find Lara, but am really sorry for my sudden reactions,” James said and he really meant it. His eyes were filled with guilt.
Adhi’s dad and Abi’s dad exchanged glances. Adhi then sat near James on the sofa to comfort him.
“That’s not a problem. We can understand.” Adhi said.
“Thanks, Adhi. But, please don’t ask me for the ring. Please, I can’t give it,” James again continued with his same reply.
“I couldn’t get you, James. Why do you need this ring? You know very well that the ring is not yours. Also, this is…”
“Please Adhi. I need no explanations. I am doing this only for Lara’s safety,”
“Lara’s safety?” Ahana sounded curious.
“Yes! Lara went missing from the evening and she was spotted right in the sea. We all saw it right? Lara was safe till we find her only because the ring was with her,”
Everyone knew this reason but they didn’t think that this would affect James’ decision.
James continued. “If the ring was not with her, I could have lost Lara forever. I can’t even imagine that.” His eyes welled up.
Adhi pressed James’ shoulders in comfort and said, “We know James. The ring saved Lara. But, I need you to think about others too,”
“Fine… you all can stay here, away from the whales. We all can stay safe here,” He said.
Adhi got tensed. He felt his anger rise to the peak. He shouted back at James.
“Are you crazy? Do you at least have any idea that you are talking stupid?” Adhi’s words startled James. It even shocked Abi and Ahana.
“Adhi, please control your anger,” Abi found some courage to advise Adhi.
James looked at the changing environment and asked, “Why are you shouting like this? James snapped back.
“The reason is you, James. If the ring is with Lara, we are safe and you are right. But, the whales may attack some other kayaking couples, if not you; it may frighten another ferry in which there are more innocent people like us,”
Adhi paused for a second and said, “Everyone doesn’t have a magical ring to save themselves. Can’t you think about these things?”
James felt ashamed at his acts. Yet, he was still worried about Lara’s safety.
Abi somehow got the words to talk to James, “You are talking about Lara’s safety alone. But, in this ring lies everyone’s safety. Think of that,”
James at once shouted back at everyone. “Can you please stop advising me? Do you all think that I don’t know anything?”
Everyone fell silent. James tried to talk again but tears rolled down his eyes. He was equally worried about shouting back at everyone who supported him in the hour of need.
Adhi didn’t know what to do. To talk to James or to console him or to snatch the ring away from Lara?
Adhi clearly didn’t know and everyone’s mind went blank.
“Adhi,” James called him with his voice breaking.
“Tell me, James,” Adhi said,”
“I am sorry. I know I am selfish. But I can’t give the ring because; I am not sure about the queen of the ocean. How can I just believe in something that sounds superstitious?”
Adhi let out a smirk on hearing James’ words. James continued.
“I agree that I saw strange whales. It’s unbelievable. But I can’t help the idea of the queen of the ocean, her ring having powers, the same face as…”
Adhi cut him in the middle and asked, “So, you don’t believe this?”
James simply nodded.
Again Adhi smirked and said, “You don’t believe anything, but all you need is this ring which according to you has no powers. Am I right?” asked Adhi pointing to Lara’s finger.
James stood bewildered at Adhi’s question. He had no logical reply to give him.
“And, you believe that this ring saved Lara, but you don’t believe that there is a queen in the underwater world,” Adhi again stuck James with his question.
“What do you think of us, James? Are we looking like sorcerers, who keep on doing magical things? We are simply humans, just like you. Even we found it hard to believe these things at first. But all things really came into place. Everything made sense. Sometimes, we need to think out of our world for everyone’s safety,” Adhi finished his brief advice and started to exit the room, but stopped midway.
He then turned towards James and said, “You are very much disturbed. Take your time and decide positively. We will wait in the reception,” said Adhi and stormed out of the room.
“We won’t move from here without the ring,” said Ahana sternly and everyone followed walked towards the reception.
James sat silently beside Lara with his heads down. Time went on. The sun made its way into the sky blocking the moon.
Adhi with everyone was still in the reception, hopefully waiting for the good to happen. They hadn’t even blinked the entire night. Same is the case with James.
James jolted when he saw Lara getting back from sleep.
Lara woke up. Her face was devoid of any tension and she looked fresh and new.
As soon as Lara woke up, she looked around the room and spotted James looking back at her with a smiling face. She too smiled at him. It was only after a few minutes she recalled the bits and pieces of the previous night.
Beach… Sea… Ring… Shouting… Ahana…
Lara closed her eyes and tried to remember everything. When she opened her eyes, everything was crystal clear.
She looked at James with tear-soaked eyes and said, “I am sorry, James. I was…”
“No need to think about that, Lara. Are you okay now?” asked James caressing her head.
Lara nodded. “James, what happened after I fainted? Where are Adhi, Abi, Ahana, and others?”
James narrated everything that happened in the room, starting from the sedative given to Lara until the fight between him and Adhi.
James expected Lara to shout back at him for not giving the ring to Adhi.
Lara looked at her ring and touched it fondly. Then she looked at James and said, “You did the right thing and I don’t blame you, James. I understand your love for me. You just tried to protect me and so you did what you think is right.”
James was shocked at his wife’s words.
“The mistake is mine, James. I made you go through hell and because of that, you behaved differently yesterday,”
James was still spellbound.
“Can you do me a favor, James?” asked Lara.
“Sure,” James said.
“I am totally fine and safe now. We need to think of other’s safety too, James. So, shall we throw this ring back into the sea?” asked Lara and looked at James pleadingly.
James had half expected this and was not so shocked by Lara’s request. He was totally happy as he got his wife back normally. James smiled big and nodded approvingly.
Soon, both started towards the reception.