People thought Salma could write well. So, everyone, asked her to write. Her brother-in-law in Brazil wanted her to write a script for his speech , another cousin of her husband’s wanted her to write ghost stories. Now, ghost stories is where Salma drew the line. She was terrified of unearthly beings.She had nightmares if she heard/ read ghost stories. She avoided watching movies with ghosts in them, except for funny ones like Ghostbusters or Casper. She had seen some really funny Bengali and Hindi movies too about ghosts. They were not so bad. But, ghost stories….she drew the line. She wrote a frigid email to the cousin saying she never wrote ghost stories! She was afraid she would get nightmares if she wrote one…
One day,Salma met a smart,funny and well-read woman,called Hemlata. Hemlata was about ten years older than her. That made Hem about fifty five.She had crisp,short curly hair. Salma met her when she went jogging everyday. She would go when there were no people around…around two in the afternoon. She used to jog along a lonely wooded path that passed near the University of Santa Cruz. Hem would jog with her. And then, they would sit and chat for half an hour and Salma would return home. Salma found talking to Hem relaxed her. Hem was surprisingly well read. One day, she asked Salma if she would be interested in writing the story of her life..Salma asked Hem ,” Why don’t you drop in for a cup of coffee to my place and we could talk it over.”
Hem replied, ” No. I can’t . I will meet you here everyday and tell you the story. I am sorry but I have certain commitments which make it difficult for me to visit you…”
Salma was alright with the arrangement. Hem began the story of her life.” I was born in a small district in Assam . I married at the age of twenty two. As Assam grew into a troubled state in India, my husband and I decided to migrate to USA. We moved to California when I was in my mid-twenties. I had started work as a journalist in India. I was quite well known as Hemlata Barua in India. I missed my work in USA. My husband worked in the banking sector. He was out the whole day. I decided to learn to fly a plane!”
Salma said,” Wow! So you can fly planes! That is unusual.”
” Yes. It took a long time but I learnt to fly. How I enjoyed flying! I could see the world under my feet stretched out like a map…I could see the clouds float at a distance…I could go anywhere…all I needed was a plane. I also felt empowered by the ability to control the plane…”
Salma looked at her watch and told Hemlata, ” We will continue tomorrow. I am getting late. My kids will be back home from school.”
Hemlata gave a smile and said, ” Goodbye then.”
The next day Hemlata met her and went on with her story. She flew with a passion as she had very few other hobbies other than reading. She learnt how to do loop de loops and even parachute . She had no children, no family in USA. So, she threw herself into her hobby. Then, one day, she wanted to fly over the Bermuda Triangle to see if she could resolve the mystery. Her husband was not very keen on it as he thought it could be risky.
Hemlata complied to him initially. Then, her husband went on a long tour to Switzerland. Hemlata went with him for a short while and returned to USA. She missed flying… Her husband would be out working the whole day and return late in the evening.
Hemlata spent a long time flying…Then , one day, while her husband was still in Switzerland, she decided to fly her plane over the Bermuda Triangle. Her husband was not there to stop her!
Hemlata flew on a clear day into the triangle.
Salma was amazed,” For real?” she asked Hem.” You have been into the Bermuda Triangle and live to tell the story? What happened?”
Hem smiled, ” So, you will write my story?”
“Sure. Would love to.”
Hem said,” Goodbye then.”
Salma said,” Will you tell me the rest tomorrow?”
Hem smiled. “Bye,” she said and they parted.
That evening Salma’s husband’s new boss came home to dinner.She was surprised hearing his name. It was Mr Debjyoti Barua. She said,” You share your surname with a friend. I made friends with this lady called Hemlata Barua while jogging. She is amazing…claims to have flown into the Bermuda Triangle!”
Mr Barua was looking pale.” Hemlata was my wife! She went missing two years ago when she flew into the Bermuda Triangle!”
It was Salma’s turn to look pale!