The next chapter in John’s memoir, as the forensic probes discovered, consisted in discovering divine bliss in cooperating Deanna. The urge of living away from cities and bringing up their daughter Jewel in the remote areas brought John and Deanna close together, helping each other to survive. They came here when Deanna was pregnant for 4 months. Deanna stayed here with John for 3 months, before John took her to Miguel’s place at Therp, where Jewel was born in the month of May. Deanna returned to Blackgod in July along with Jewel and her grandparents Patricia and Jeremy.
Close relationship between John and Deanna was often interrupted by frequent visits from Jeremy family, Miguel family and Kylie family; whenever these families visited, Deanna spent most of her available time with them; often John had to share his bed with male members of those families; hardly could he have his wife Deanna in bed with him.
Jack visited them for one day when he was visiting Broom for a project assignment. Since no other family was with John at that time, John and Deanna could sleep in one bedroom while Jack rested in the other room. There was not much to be seen in Blackgod; there was only one restaurant where John and Deanna took Jack for dinner. There were some celebrations in the Blackgod club; John, Deanna and Jewel took Jack there; Jack had a small win there; he won a prize in the Bingo game.
Shane and Sandra too visited Blackgod with a very short notice; their children Dip and Bumba were also with them. They, too, have left the Moon Town and joined a company in Mune; still they brought with them lots of memories from the Moon Town and shared with John and Deanna. Jewel was conceived at the same city; she enjoyed fun with Dip and Bumba hardly realising they could have been her next door neighbours had their parents continued in the Moon Town.
In next few months, Deanna made long trips first to Therp, then to Port Victoria, including visits to Kylie’s place; Jewel, of course, travelled with her when John was left alone at Blackgod, because he needed to go to work there regularly. Fortunately for John, he was too busy at work to feel the void at home. Every day, he worked till late for planning the configuration of computer systems to be installed at Blackgod while during the working hours he conversed with the users of different departments and started building information systems for them by hiring computer time at Broom and Mune. Still he felt every day that he had been losing the opportunities of bonding with his daughter Jewel and his wife Deanna, had she been interested. Deanna, on the other hand, enjoyed the company of her daughter and the friends and relatives at Port Victoria — who are so close to her hearts; she was proud to show off her cute little daughter, nicely dressed.
John’s employers Blackgod Chemicals Ltd sponsored two students at Caunleston; these students were in secondary schools at that point; Blackgod Chemicals Ltd provided them scholarships to cover their school fees plus food and accommodation. John was asked to visit Caunleston to check that these students were making adequate use of their scholarships. John remembered that Kallen had moved from the Moon Town to Caunleston and he had his contact phone number.
John was supposed to be there only for two days, one day allotted for each of the two students covering meeting with the guardians and teachers of the students, and a lunch session with the student to appraise their personal difficulties, if any. Deanna and Jewel were not at Blackgod; so John started alone to reach Caunleston on Wednesday evening; he checked in a hotel and then rang up Kallen, who invited John to stay at his place instead of staying at the hotel. Since John checked in the hotel already, he stayed there for one night; on Thursday morning before doing the assigned tasks he came to Kallen’s bungalow. Kallen’s mother welcomed him and advised John to stay there not only for Thursday and Friday, when he would meet the sponsored students; he would also have to stay during the weekend when she would serve him with special homemade dishes. Kallen had been married only six months ago; it would be a good opportunity to tour Caunleston with them. John had to obey what Kallen’s mother said, otherwise she would feel hurt. However, there were only two bedrooms in Kallen’s bungalow; Kallen’s mother asked Alpha to sleep in her room so that John could share the bed with Kallen.
John completed his tasks of following up sponsored students during the day and enjoyed the hospitality of Kallen’s mother in the evening. Every night Kallen had a bit of conversation with John before going to bed; Kallen asked about Deanna, especially about her dancing; John stated that Deanna continued dancing in the Moon Town but discontinued at Blackgod. Kallen said that there are no clubs with dancing facilities in the company he was employed with; moreover Alpha was not interested, so he had not tried to dance anywhere else. Alpha had passed M.Sc. before her marriage with Kallen; but she was a bit introvert, no at all outgoing like Deanna; however she was a big helping hand to Kallen’s mother. John also observed that Alpha took care that the John was not inconvenienced at any time with her smiling face, yet she would not cut any jokes to hurt anyone’s feelings.
During the weekend, Kallen took John for visiting all landmarks and worth-seeing places of Caunleston. Kallen had a motor-cycle; in order to save the cost of transport; he decided to take John on his motor cycle and roam around in Caunleston. Just an hour before, Kallen and John planned to start their journey on the motorbike; Kallen’s mother demanded Alpha should also go because she had not so far visited those places. Alpha came out ready with a blouse and a long skirt on; but Kallen did not like that, because she would have to sit behind John and it would be difficult for her to sit with both legs on one side of the bike.
Next, Alpha came out with shalwar kameez on; shalwar are loose pyjama-like trousers; the legs are wide at the top and narrow at the ankle; the kameez is a long shirt or tunic. Kallen started the bike and sat on the driver’s seat; behind him was seated John with one of his legs on each side of the bike; behind John sat Alpha with one of her legs on each side of the bike just like those of John and Kallen. The pillion seat was not long enough for two persons, even though neither of John and Alpha was obese; Alpha’s shalwar-clad thighs had to be pressed against the back of John’s hip. After driving for couple of minutes Kallen whisperingly said, ‘Hold on, John, don’t pierce through me’. John cautiously held on; behind his back Alpha’s breasts were too soft to endure. Journey continued for a few hours on the Saturday and Sunday, with John juxtaposed between Kallen and Alpha; but gradually he was accustomed to soft pressure of Alpha’s breasts and nipples; John went on feeling guilty of being so intimately close to his friend’s wife; he suppressed his sensuality as Alpha held on to John’s back firmly with her arms so that she might not fall off the bike. They had to endure this to save the cost of taxi fare for about twelve hours in two days, but this did not detract from the enjoyment of sightseeing in Caunleston; they had lots of fun. It was a cold day; Kallen on the front seat was wearing a jacket; John and Alpha didn’t need any as they were sharing their body warmth with each other. Had Deanna been with John; they would have been forced to hire a cab; things would have been a bit different.
* * *
When Jewel was 1 year and 5 months old, John and Deanna planned trips to Anysnag and Port Victoria. They planned to spend about a week at Jack’s place in Anysnag and one and half weeks at Jeremy’s place in Port Victoria. This was the first time Deanna and Jewel got a chance to travel by air; John has flown only two times before, both times for his work. John, Deanna and Jewel enjoyed their first personal flights thanks to leave travel concession granted by John’s employer. Jewel was very happy to fly, when she got off at Anysnag, she was beckoning John’s attention to the plane they disembarked from — she wanted to fly again. The week’s stay at Jack’s place was delightful for them. Sullivan and Martina loved Jewel and wanted to have her with them for longer periods.
Once when no one else was around, Martina said to John, ‘Why did you bring us from Jamesburg, if you can’t let us stay with you from then on?’
‘I didn’t realise, Mum, that I would need to move from Moon Town and that 4-bedroom quarter won’t be always available to me. The life became so tough at Moon Town, I didn’t know if I would remain employed there forever.’
‘You could have sent us back to Jamesburg — ’
‘Yes, we did not consider that option, nor you and dad told me about that option.’
‘Life was much different at Moon Town for us. Your dad could move about wherever he liked to, could buy groceries, meat, fish, vegetable whatever he wanted to and I could cook and feed you all. Here we are not treated as a part of the family, we are always guests, and they are always looking forward to sending us back to your fold.’
‘I would have taken you if I could. We stay in a 2-bedroomed quarter, where we cannot accommodate four of you. We could not rent any other flat in that colony where we could have taken you.’
Someone appeared on the scene and this private conversation could not be continued any further, but John could not forget those few words of Martina ever in his life. He started looking for a job in the main cities, where it would be easier to get a big flat and accommodate his parents.
When Jewel was 2 year old, she started going to pre-school. She developed friendship with a number of children in the school, especially with one girl, who was the daughter of a close neighbour of John-Deanna. Jewel and this girl spoke different languages at their homes, but this did not detract them from conversing with each other. They started conversing so much in the class that the teacher had to separate them and get them seated away from each other. Deanna developed friendship with many families in the colony; Ninon and his wife Swirl remained still at the top of the list; hardly a day passed without any conversation between Swirl and Deanna. Every week John used to go to Broom twice to hire computer time there, in every trip he used to be away for 4 to 6 hours; Deanna and Jewel would go to the next door neighbour for watching TV. Later, John too bought a TV set, but it was difficult to get TV sets repaired at remote places like Blackgod. Unskilled technicians would often spoil the TV sets further, making them totally irreparable. Maintenance of scooters could not be done near John’s work place at Blackgod, John needed to take the scooter to Broom for repairs and servicing; still the scooter was a everyday necessity; John used to travel to work using his scooter; every morning at 8am he used to kick start his scooter to leave for the work; he would return at 1:15pm for lunch and after having homemade lunch he used to go back to work at 1:50 pm; he would usually return home at 6pm. Some days, scooter could not be easily started; John would take off the plug, clean it and reinsert it before kicking again. Jewel used to watch his dad from the veranda and sometimes pray to god for helping him start the scooter.
One Jamesburg family arrived at Blackgod: Bob Mueller joined John’s workplace as a Finance expert; with him was his wife Ruth, son Axel and daughter Cookie. Cookie was a year older than Jewel while Axel was younger by a year. John, Deanna and Jewel found good friends in Bob, Ruth, Cookie and Axel. Together they were often out for excursions; especially the trip to Ajanta would never be forgotten. Bob used to jump out for excursions very fast; one evening Bob and Ruth came to John and Deanna and insisted on making a trip to Ajanta the very next morning. No trains were available from Blackgod; they planned to get trains from Broom. Out they went next morning by Broom bus, from Blackgod to Broom; Ruth’s brother Rodney was also with them; they had no reservation in Ajanta Express; Bob paid some coolies to get them into the train; coolies literally shuffled all of them, five adults and three children through the window of one compartment. Though heavily crushed and pressed by other passengers, they safely reached Ajanta station. Next problem was to get hotel rooms to spend the night; no rooms were available anywhere; once they thought of spending the night on the beach — sleeping on the sands, when someone led them to one place where one room was available. By paying a few extra bucks they all got into that room; first they brought some take-away food and ate there; then two single beds were brought together to accommodate Ruth, Deanna, Jewel, Axel and Cookie; John, Bob and Rodney managed to lie on the floor. There was one bathroom attached to the room; all had to perform their morning rituals in quick succession. However, the guided tour at Ajanta was very encouraging and educating; they relished the history and paintings of the distant past. Again they had a strenuous return journey to Broom, helped by coolies to get into a compartment. No bus was available for returning to Blackgod from Broom; one hired car agreed to take five adults plus three children. Although highly compressed they could not remain awake after fatigue of two days and a sleepless night; when they reached Blackgod they were in deep sleep; Deanna gently woke John up and shown him her blouse, completely wet below his cheeks; they all then rushed to get off the car and take the children to their homes.
In the month of May, Mueller’s were invited to a dinner party at John’s place. Drinks and entrees have been served; Jewel was busy in games with Cookie and Axel; Bob and Ruth were in conversation with John and Deanna, when Deanna went to the bedroom to receive one phone call. After five minutes, Deanna was back to the lounge where John, Bob and Ruth were carrying on a few exciting gossips on what was happening in cricket and politics. Deanna was in a bit of hurry to drive the dinner fast. Soon she asked, ‘Should we start the dinner, everything is ready?’
After the dinner was through and Mueller family went off, Deanna called John and asked him to sit on the sofa.
Slowly Deanna said, ‘I have to give you a sad news, John. Jack phoned when Bob’s were around here.’
John was waiting for Deanna’s words, ‘Your mum has died of sudden heart failure. Please call Jack now and find out what we all need to do.’
John now realized why Deanna was rushing through the dinner party and was not having anything herself. When John called, Jack narrated what happened over phone:-
‘As I have told Deanna already, Mum has died early this morning — ’
‘Yesterday, when I came back from work, I found mum sitting on a chair by the dining table. It was an auspicious day for mum; she was fasting when I left for work in the morning. I asked — Have you taken lunch so late. She replied — not quite so; I am not able to get up from the table, feeling so sleepy for last 2 hours.
‘I helped her to the bed and called the doctor. The doctor advised to send her to the hospital ASAP. At the hospital, she was diagnosed to have a coronary attack and admitted to ICU. I waited there till midnight, when doctors told me that her conditions were steady; they advised me to go home, take rest and return to the hospital in the morning. Back home, I woke up at six and started shaving and brushing teeth, when I got a phone call from the hospital — she had breathed her last already.
‘Now the situation had changed; I thought I should not rush to the hospital; I had my breakfast as I didn’t guess when I would have my next meal; I told Gaylene and Dad that she had expired. Then I called one of my neighbours, Prenab and asked him to accompany me. Prenab and his wife Lorraine accompanied me to the hospital.
‘When we went to the hospital, Mum’s body was not in the bed; when I enquired about where the body had been taken, someone said that you have been informed long back, you have taken two hours to reach here.
‘Finally we got to where the body was kept. The hospital staff tallied the identification with the bed no and patient no and handed over the body to me. We found that someone has taken off the diamond nose-ring damaging her nostril; we could not do anything about it. Before going to hospital, I asked Dad whether we should take the body home or straight to the crematorium. Dad said he need not see the body again and we might take Mum’s body straight to the crematorium and avoid the hassle of dashing to our place; but Prenab and Lorraine insisted that we should take the body to our apartment where our neighbours would like to pay homage to her.
‘We took her body back to our place, where Gaylene, Dad and our neighbours all paid homage to her and decorated her bed with flowers. Her body was cremated in the late afternoon.’
John did not know what to say, ‘Then I cannot see her anymore. Tell me when I should be there with you.’
‘As per our customs, the funeral ceremony would be held on the 15th day, i.e. 14 days from today. Plan to come here 10 days from now; we would have three days to finalize all arrangements, which I would initiate in the mean time.’
‘Ok, a gap of 10 days means the Saturday after next, I would make reservations, we would be there by the Saturday after next.’
In respect of the departed mother, John would not shave, would not wear leather shoes, and would eat only parboiled rice till the 15th day of her death. John had to apply for leave for spending a week in Anysnag from the Saturday after next, so he had to go to work the week before that, though a bit shabbily dressed, suppressing deep down sorrow within himself.
When John reached Anysnag, Martina was not there to ask the difficult question, she asked last time, ‘Why couldn’t you take us with you to Blackgod?’ When John reached Anysnag this time, Martina was not there to receive him, still John could not realize that she was no more there. For every doubt about the rituals and regulations, he was looking for mum to tell him what to do next. But alas, she wasn’t available anywhere within John’s reach, Jewel, who has seen Martina last time she was here, was also looking into the bed and places, where Martina could have been and also at Martina’s photos, now decorated with garlands. After the rituals and the funeral, John returned to Blackgod with Deanna and Jewel. Though John believed that Jack had left no stone unturned from the instant he came to know about Martina’s sickness, John returned broken-hearted that he could do anything for Martina in her last few days.
On returning Blackgod, John started looking for Anysnag opportunities, so that he could be near Jack and look after Dad Sullivan a bit more. But it was not easy to get a suitable change of job. His job at Blackgod became more interesting when CEO wanted him to start a project of starting in-house computing facilities. This involved assessing the hardware, software and database configurations and information processing requirements and securing the government approval for purchasing and installing the required facilities. Though more IT staff had been recruited, John still needed to go to Broom at least once a week, for hiring computer time.
John’s life at Blackgod became more interesting, when Predrag started in their organization in July that year. When Predrag joined this organization he came alone to Blackgod, his wife Petal and son Arnav were still at the far-away place, where he used to work before. Petal had plans to spend a few months at her father’s place before coming to Blackgod. John was also alone in his apartment those days as Deanna was having a break at her parents’ place. Predrag was new in this remote area of Blackgod, where many things were not readily available and John offered his helping hands, lending him a few things to start living in his apartment. Soon Predrag and John became close friends. A month after Predrag arrived in Blackgod, his wife Petal and son Arnav also arrived. The whole Predrag family — Predrag, Petal and Arnav, became close friends of John family — John, Deanna and Jewel. But Predrag did not work at Blackgod for long; after only six months, he got a job at Broom and shifted there. This was good for John’s in a way; John and Predrag won’t meet as often as they did at Blackgod. At least once in a month, John family visited Broom and spent a day with Predrag family.
John’s boss, Ninon resigned from Blackgod organization and left for Treeopia for a good opportunity. John and Deanna was very sorry to miss Ninon and his wife Swirl, as these couple welcomed them to Blackgod and Ninon was the man who selected John for this position at Blackgod. In a way, it was good for John’s career as he was asked to act in Ninon’s position — Manager, Management Services. But it was only a temporary promotion; later on, a person of the scheduled caste background was selected for that position and John was reverted to his original position. However, not before long, John was interviewed at Broom for an organisation of computer consultants — Computronics International. He got an offer for a job at Anysnag, where he wanted to go.
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