Hello Readers and Listeners, in today's story, a man senses a strange connection with a sea. Is this a mere trick of his mind? Read on, listen, or do both together (something we call immersion reading) for the answer. And of course, please be a member of this site and join my mailing list. Your support is crucial to my creative pursuits. By listening to my stories and commenting on them, you help me evolve as a writer and a podcaster. Enjoy the story.
Welcome to OBSCURUS, your weekly dose of paranormal fiction. Every Wednesday OBSCURUS features new short stories and serialized novels written by novelist, screenwriter, and voice-over artist Biswajit Banerjee. The realm of the paranormal stretches far beyond the usual horror story. So, while you will get to listen to lots of ghost stories on this podcast, there will also be many tales of lesser-known paranormal themes. To get us started, here's your host Biswajit Banerjee.
HOST TALK 00:00:47
Hello and welcome to OBSCURUS. I am Biswajit Banerjee, your host for this show. Today’s episode features the first part of a two-part story.
Before I start the tale, I would like to request my readers and listeners to visit my website biswajitbanerjee.com for information on my books, movies, and voice-over works.
You might be aware I have another website obscurus.buzzsprout.com which is devoted to this podcast. All OBSCURUS episodes, their transcripts, and chapter markers are available on this website.
Now, let’s begin the story. Sudhakar finds the view of the Arabian Sea from a particular position in Worli Sea Face in Bombay uncannily familiar despite it being his maiden visit to the city. What causes the familiarity? Come, let’s find out.
SEA PART 1 00:02:05
Written and performed by Biswajit Banerjee
A multinational company hired my girlfriend Malini, a freelance interior designer, for a big international project. The company wanted her to be a part of the inaugural function of the project in Bombay. We met in a café in Central Delhi the day she confirmed her participation in the program. She wanted me to join her on the trip. Though interested, I wasn't sure if the tour would be possible as the corporation I worked for was stingy about sanctioning leave.
"They will not allow it."
"But you haven't taken leave for months now, Sudhakar."
"Yes, but I doubt they will still allow it."
"Oh, please make it happen, dear; it's a great opportunity to move around and have some fun. Did I tell you my clients are willing to sponsor the trip for two? And the best part is my engagement with the project will be minimal at this stage. All I need to do is to make a speech at the inaugural function. Then we will get to spend seven good days together — all the expenses will be borne by the company. My clients are generous, you see — they are willing to spend money on us as a goodwill gesture — this is their way of establishing a profound professional bond with the freelancers selected for the project. Imagine romancing on a beach, honey."
"I will talk to my boss. Let's hope for the best."
"No matter what, you got to tell me yes tomorrow."
The next day I finished my work by the early evening — around 4 p.m. — and then went to my boss's cabin.
"Sit down, Sudhakar."
"Have you finished the data charts?"
"Good, do you want me to check them now?"
"Check when you wish to, Ravish. What I have prepared are useful market indicators."
"Now, that's what I call confidence."
"Fine, you may leave now."
"But I haven't yet spoken about the purpose of my seeing you now."
"Well, you have, Sudhakar — you were here to tell me you have made excellent data charts."
"Oh, what's the matter then?"
"Ravish, I need a break from work."
"Don't tell me you are applying for leave."
"But I am. I wish to be on leave for a week."
"A week would be too long, Sudhakar; you do understand we have too much of work to do this fortnight, don't you? However, I am willing to consider a day's leave for you."
"If a day's leave is what I needed, I wouldn't have asked for a seven-day leave."
"Sorry, I can't grant you a seven-day leave. If I do, my seniors will be upset."
"For about a year, I haven't taken a single day's leave."
"Well, that does not entitle you to such a long break."
"So, you won't consider my request?"
"I am afraid I can't."
With my head down, I wondered how upset Malini would be when I told her that the boss turned down my request. As I was about to get up from the chair, a flurry of thoughts crossed my psyche. What was I doing after all — working to live or living to work? Material-minded people like Ravish would always force me to do things that prevented me from living a life of contentment. Unfortunately, most people in the world are like Ravish. For these people, life is all about brainstorming. Their roots in falsity and emptiness have gotten so deep that they are now incapable of realizing life is about the exact opposite — brain-stilling.
Brainstorming has spread like a disease, and even I am not untouched by it. How many moments of bliss did I enjoy in my thirty-two years of existence? Not many, for sure. In the garb of being a thorough professional, I wasn't willing to give up the small and big pleasures of life anymore. I had had enough of the hollow corporate life. No more of this foolish and meaningless existence. It was time to release myself from the clutches of systems that demanded brainstorming.
The imagery of a sea ran on my mind's screen as my eyes got heavy with sleep. In just a few moments, I woke up with a start and wondered what caused the sea to appear in the state of momentary slumber. Did my subconscious mind reach out to me with a message? Or did the imagery result from some random and meaningless subconscious ruminations?
"Are you not sleeping well these days, Sudhakar? You just dozed off."
"I am sorry, it shouldn't have happened."
"Perhaps you need rest. I can grant you a day's leave if you want."
"Thank you, Ravish, but you need not do that."
"Well, I know you are upset, but my hands are tied — I cannot let you stay away from the office for that long."
"Umm-hmm, I understand your hands are tied. But my hands are not tied anymore."
"What do you mean?
"We have had a good professional relationship, Ravish. Thanks for that."
"Why are you speaking in riddles?"
"Okay, let me say it with utmost clarity — I will send you my resignation in a while."
"Did you say resignation?
I got up from the chair.
"Are you serious?"
"Look, an impulsive decision is never good. Give me some time. Let me talk to my seniors about your seven-day leave."
"No, that won't be necessary; I have made up my mind."
"This is a terrible decision; your mind is clouded by anger at the moment."
"No, my mind was never this clear, Ravish. Trust me — it is not because you denied me the leave that I am quitting."
"Then what's the reason?"
"The reason is peace — I want peace of mind."
"Peace of mind?"
"But there can be no peace of mind without financial security."
"Or maybe there can be no financial security without peace of mind — think about it, Ravish."
In the evening we met in the café again. Though Malini was happy about our trip, somewhere deep in her being, she held herself responsible for my quitting the job.
"Yesterday evening, I said no matter what, you have to tell me 'yes' - that might have played in your mind when you met the boss."
"No, those words had nothing to do with my decision to quit — suddenly, it occurred to me that I am wasting my life. Think about it, Malini — how much of one's life does one live for oneself? At least I haven't lived much of my life for myself. All along, I have been doing what others asked me to do. Do this, don't do this - there has been an unending series of dos and don'ts the world has tied me with. Most of these dos and don'ts prevent me from realizing my own real self, my true spirit. When I was talking to Ravish, I had an epiphany about the futility of what we so-called professionals are doing. So, I quit.
"Darling, you sound so philosophical."
"Something strange happened moments after I experienced the epiphany."
"I dozed off for seconds, and during this micro-period, I had a dream; I would prefer to call it a vision."
"A vision! What did you see?"
"A sea. Its waves were gleaming in the sun. Long back, I read in a book that the subconscious mind sends messages to the conscious mind through symbols. Whether the imagery of the sea carried any symbolic meaning, I can't tell."
"But I can tell you what the vision of the sea meant."
"Of course, Sudhakar. Bombay is calling you. The vision must have been a representation of the parts of the Arabian Sea touching Bombay. Your subconscious mind wants you to have a few days of fun. It wants you to forget about the pressures of sustenance and simply enjoy."
A smile crossed my lips. "You think it is that simple."
"Come on, Sudhakar, learn to take things easy. Right now, think about nothing else but the fun we are going to have in Bombay."
We arrived in Bombay early in the morning the following Sunday. On our way to the hotel, located at West Andheri, we stopped by Marine Drive, a C-shaped stretch roughly marking the coastline of the Arabian Sea in this part of the city.
"Oh, this is spectacular, isn't it, Sudhakar?"
"Stunning! It is as though the Arabian sea is caressing the city of Bombay."
Thousands of four-legged concrete structures called tetrapods separate the sea from the curved embankment of the drive. We crossed the embankment and moved over to the tetrapods. Though the sea was rather placid at this time of the day, occasionally, the waters moved high up to fill the gaps between the tetrapods.
A blissful smile crossed her lips as the reflection of the shining waters on her glowing skin made her all the more attractive.
"Insanely beautiful," I said.
"Not the sea, I mean you."
She turned her gaze at me, apparently reliving the words I just spoke. I wrapped my arms around Malini's waist and pulled her to a kiss.
Malini's clients had arranged for our accommodation in the same seven-star hotel where the function was scheduled later in the day. The arrangements were excellent — a large suite that offered a panoramic view of the city.
The inaugural function lasted for about a couple of hours. Malini made an excellent speech about how committed she was to her assignment and how her experience of half a dozen years in interior designing would help her meet the expectations of her present clients.
The program ended around two in the afternoon.
"Hey, we now have all the time to ourselves," she said as we moved into the suite again.
Nothing matches a refreshing afternoon nap. When we woke up early in the evening, none of us carried any touch of fatigue.
The charm of the Marine Drive was still in our minds.
"Revisit to the Drive isn't a bad idea," I said.
"Of course not, but how about visiting some other place for a different view of the sea?"
We discussed the possible places we could visit now with the help of a tourist guidebook. But even after a long period of deliberations, we were not sure where to go.
So, we called up the reception desk for a suggestion.
"Worli Sea Face is popular with tourists. It affords great views of the sea," a receptionist observed.
"Shall we?" Malini asked.
"We shall," I smiled and replied.
When I witnessed the waters at Worli Sea Face, the first thing that came to my mind was the symbol of life — the ankh that resembles a key. Why? I had no answers then.
For about an hour, we walked hand in hand with hardly any exchange of words. Then we sat on a pair of isolated tetrapods. The sea visible from this point appeared familiar, actually very familiar."
"What happened, Sudhakar?"
"The sea looks so familiar from this position."
"The sea appears more or less the same from all places. Why is this familiarity bothering you?"
"It is as if I have seen this sea from this position before."
"Oh, come on, Sudhakar, this is your maiden visit to Bombay."
"Yes, and that's what makes this familiarity so uncanny."
"Relax, it is nothing more than a trick of your mind."
"How can you be so sure?"
"Is there any other way to explain it?"
"Maybe yes, maybe no."
"I hope you don't think of this as some paranormal phenomenon."
Before I could respond to her words, it struck me that I saw the sea earlier exactly from this position on my mind's screen when I dozed off sitting in Ravish's chamber. The understanding of the reason behind the familiarity with the sea brought little relief. Now a new puzzle gripped me. How did I have a vision of the Arabian Sea as is visible from this particular position in my passing slumber? Would parapsychologists place my experience in the category of precognition or foresight?
The placid waters suddenly made way for the angry waves. Perhaps the sea was trying to communicate with me.
"Let's go from here, Sudhakar."
Malini's words broke my chain of thoughts.
"Can't we sit for some more time?"
"No, that won't be a good idea. Let's go."
As we moved into the cab, I turned my gaze at the waters again. The waves now beat the shore with greater force as though unhappy about the communication not happening.
"Get in, Sudhakar."
I had another glimpse of the sea from inside the cab — it was angry, no, infuriated with me.
"Don't look at that sea again."
"Why? What happened?"
"It is filling you with all crazy thoughts; I won't let the damn sea spoil our fun trip."
I put my arm around her and smiled. "Don't worry, nothing will spoil our fun trip."
The smile I forced on my lips could not hide my mind's turmoil.
"You are still thinking about the sea, aren't you?" Malini asked as we started our dinner.
"Well, I am trying to stop thinking about it."
"By any chance, are you connecting your vision of the sea with the feeling of familiarity at Worli Sea Face?"
I didn't respond and kept eating.
"Your silence means you have, after all, connected the two things."
After a long period of silence, I said, "The vision and what I saw today from the position in the tetrapod were the same."
"Look, you are allowing your mind to play tricks on itself."
Malini got up and walked away from the dining table.
"Won't you finish your dinner?" I asked.
"No, I am not hungry anymore."
"Oh, I see. Well, now I too am no longer hungry."
Around midnight Malini snuggled against my neck and closed her fingers around my arm.
"Are you sleeping?"
"For my bad behavior, what else? Already your mind is distressed because of what you saw at Worli Sea Face. Instead of trying to comfort you, I caused you more mental anguish with my stupid conduct."
"Don't feel bad about it. These things happen in a relationship; I don't attach importance to such trifles."
Malini got still closer and rested her head on my chest.
"Darling, I know you are mentally exhausted. So, I am letting you sleep now. But after you wake up in the morning, I won't be as kind. I must see the true lover boy in you who understands nothing but romance. Okay?"
"Now sleep, good night."
"Good night, Malini."
The sweet movements of Malini's fingernails on my body calmed my nerves, and I soon fell asleep.
Waters ... nothing but waters. Where was I? In the middle of a sea? Yes, indeed, I was in the waters of Worli Sea Face, about a kilometer away from the coastline. "How did I come here?" I whispered.
Soon, the answer flowed into my mind. "I brought you here." The message was voiceless yet loud and clear.
"Who are you?"
A blob appeared a little distance away and soon grew into a giant wave swirling and swishing around me. Shortly, I found myself pushed towards the sky.
"Soul of the Sea, I am the soul of the sea." Yet again, a voiceless message crossed my mind.
And then, I realized I did not need spoken words to communicate with the surrounding force. The soul of the sea had established a telepathic communion with me.
"What do you want of me?"
"Awareness of what?"
"That I exist."
"Everyone knows the sea exists."
"But they don't know the sea is alive. I want you to understand I am alive and move all over the globe — both on land and water."
"How's my knowing that going to help you?"
"Your awareness of this truth gives me a sense of being recognized; my existence feels more purposeful. Now that you have learned this secret, I am filled with joy."
"Why did you choose me to tell the secret?"
"Aren't you and I similarly circumstanced? While breaking free of all bondages is impossible, both of us strive to unleash our true spirits within the limitations imposed by the unavoidable forces. The natural forces prevent me from flowing freely, and the social forces prevent you from living your life to the full. Since you are living through the same pain, I thought you would understand my plight. For eons, I have been looking for a friend. Finally, I have found one in you."
"There are many like me. You could have chosen anybody to be your friend. Why me?"
"Well, there are many girls like Malini. You could have chosen anybody to be your girlfriend. Why her?"
"And what am I supposed to do as your friend?"
"Just keep this in your mind that I am a living being with my own share of joys and sorrows."
"Do you want me to tell others about it?"
"Don't do so in your own interest. People like Ravish, the ones who are in control of the material world, will send you to a mental asylum if you share our secret with them."
"Umm-hmm, I think you are right."
"I guess it is time for you to go back."
"I, too, think so."
"Goodbye, my friend."
The wave fell, bringing me down with it, and then gently pushing me towards the shore.
That brings us to the end of the first part of the story. Catch up with the second and concluding part of the tale in the next episode of OBSCURUS.
Thanks for listening to OBSCURUS. If you like what you heard, please subscribe and visit biswajitbanerjee.com for more information about Biswajit's books, movies, documentaries, and other creative pursuits. We shall see you next Wednesday with another episode of OBSCURUS. Till then, take care!