Darnell was looking for his swimming shorts. He searched all nooks and crevices of the house for his shorts. He ransacked the house, upturned cupboards and closets, but he could not find it. He called the housekeeper.
“Maria, have you seen my swimming shorts?”
“What colour is it Mr. Darnell?”
“Sea colour, blue.”
“I don’t remember. I put everything in your closet.”
“I have checked the closet and it’s not there.”
‘Ding dong!’ The doorbell rang. Jugger and Eckelwood were around and they needed to leave.
“I can’t find my swimming shorts” Darnell complained. “We have to pass through the shops so I can get a new one.”
“It’s alright dude” Jugger said.
The short drive to Mushrif mall was devoid of drama.
First port of call was Belladona.
“Excuse me, please do you have swimming shorts here?”
“No we don’t, I am sorry.”
Quickly they darted across the road to Stadium sports shop and the sales attendant showed them a couple of pricey ones but they couldn’t find a size that would fit Darnell.
They dashed off to Reebok store and there was none. The choices were exhausted in Mushrif!
“Quick, let’s go to Al Wahda mall” Darnell proffered, “they have more varieties there. They even have the American Eagle Outfitters, where I bought the last one from.”
It was another slow drive. Stop lights, speed limits and finally driving around looking for parking on a Saturday afternoon.
Out through the elevators, they shot to the American Eagle shop.
“Swimming trunks please?”
“Sorry we ran out of trunks.”
“I thought you said you bought the missing one here” Jugger said, obviously getting fed up with the wild goose chase.
“Haven’t you heard what he said that they ran out of trunks? How is that my fault?”
“Easy guys, let’s keep the tempo down” Eckelwood interjected.
“Please, where else can I buy one?”
“Check H&M sir.”
“And where is that please?”
“Walk straight across for about a quarter of a mile and you will find the shop directly in front of you.”
“Alright, thanks” Darnell said and they head for the new location.
“Please do you have swimming shorts?” He asked the teenage sales boy.
“No sir. We have the ones for boys and not for men.”
The search team was totally fed up by now, a few more visits to a few more shops did not yield any result. The last place left to check was Rainbow’s.
“Sir, do you have swimming shorts?”
“Yes we do, plenty.”
“Do you have my size?”
A shed load of shorts of different sizes and shapes and colours were shoved into Darnell’s face. Eckelwood and Jugger were so relieved to know that help had finally arrived and they could eventually head to the beach. Thirty minutes later they were at the newest beach in town, Al Hudyriat beach. The sea had been rough. It was a wintry and windy day. From the moment they stepped their feet on the water, it was icily cold.
They were playing their favourite catch and if you missed a catch, you had to do few quick swim sprints to catch the ball otherwise it would be gone with the wind. Jugger had just thrown the ball to Darnell and it slipped off his hand. The wind was strong; the flag had turned to purple. It was like the wind was waiting for this golden opportunity.
Darnell jumped into the sea and pursued the ball. The ball was inching towards the buoy line. Perhaps it would be stopped by the buoy line and by this time, one of them would have reached to salvage the ball.
He was swimming really fast towards the ball. The wind was taking the ball farther away. Each stroke aided and abetted the ball to go farther.
Darnell was a fast swimmer and a competent one at that. He stroked harder to grab the ball.
“Get it, get it” Eckelwood yelled.
The ball rolled along. Darnell stroked for it and each time he was about to grab it, it would slip off his hand. The ball would quickly propel along and Darnell would increase his pace and try to grab the ball. The winds were friends with the ball. The ball rolled faster. Darnell swam faster and Jugger and Eckelwood jumped into the chase. From three directions, they all swam towards the ball and it rolled even faster. When it got to the buoy line, it seemed like one of the buoys had wedged it and the ball was rolling along the buoy. A tinge of hope and then when they were almost there, it jumped across the buoy line and went far into the deep blue sea. They all stood in awe as they watched the ball go far away. It was like all forces had conspired to aid and abet the escape of the ball.
Darnell was very sad, he could not be assuaged. He felt the whole incidence was far too ominous to be ignored. According to him, the energies were too negative and the vibes were too contrary. But his two friends couldn’t be bothered, they had always known Darnell to be metaphysical in perspective, they laughed it off. But Darnell reminded them that the entire episode started from his home at Reemisland and walked them through the difficulties they encountered while trying to get him an ordinary swimming short.
“Oh come on Darnell, it’s just a ball” Eckelwood said.
“It’s not just about the ball folks, it’s about the circumstances surrounding the ball, don’t you get it?”
“So, what do you suggest we do about it?” Jugger asked, more to keep Darnell quiet than to go hunting for the missing ball. “Oh no, don’t tell me it’s time to see the gentleman of the sea!”
“Yes friends, it’s time to see him” Darnell affirmed, nodding his head.
The gentleman of the sea was an old man of about 90 years who lived in a hut on the northern side of the beach. He had spent over forty years of his life on the sea. He was once a pearl diver and fisherman. He understood the tides and seasons, the movement of the moon and fishes. When Al Hudyriat area was to be developed and modernized, he refused to move out of his hut. All effort to coax and coerce him to move out failed. “I would rather die in my hut and homestead than be removed” he vowed. He was left alone. His shrine was in his homestead. He had the ability to speak to the gods of the water. He understood the language of the gods. The gods spoke back to him. People often consulted him when they had issues that needed a metaphysical approach or when they were in need of his healing potions. Probably when he passes away, the government would declare his hut and untouched area a commemorative heritage site.
Darnell and his friends met the gentleman of the sea and they told their woe to him. He spoke to the winds and after about three minutes the winds started to blow in the opposite direction. At his command, the winds were now blowing to the shore instead of away from the shore and much to the amazement of the three friends; the winds brought back the same ball!