Shyam – Dear Diary, rain patters on my window as I write this. Can’t believe it… I slept with Joyce Khongmen last night! How lovely she looked – hair spread like a sleepy, dark storm upon the pillow. The love in this room smells rich like the coffee next to me. Wish I didn’t have to go back home. Or back to sea. Can’t bear to leave … oops! She’s up! Gotta go…

Madhu – Dear Diary, I wish Shyam was back soon. He keeps going to Delhi for these professional courses without which, he says, he’ll lose his job. Uff, this Merchant Navy is so demanding. He’s away on a ship 7-8 months in a year, and during his vacation he has to go away and do courses?

Madhu – Shyam’s back, but seems preoccupied. Snaps at me all the time. Is he ashamed of me? He criticizes me often for not being city bred, not being fluent in English, or not being too educated…. it hurts.

Shyam – Dear Diary, my first entry on the high seas. I have decided. Shyam Gupta will just disappear among the teeming millions in this country. Vanish. New identity. Start a new life with Joyce somewhere. She wants to go back to Shillong. Sure! I’ll go anywhere you want me to, babe. Nobody looks for people in north-east India anyway.

When I get back home this time, I’ll have to plan it step by step. Carefully.

Shyam – Diary, always nice to be back on land. Started moving my assets to cash, then to safety lockers in Mumbai. Getting rid of the plastic – debit cards, credit cards, everything. Deactivating my Facebook, Linked-In, Google+ and Twitter accounts. Just gonna disappear from the virtual world.

Next time I get off the ship I’ll collect my entire pay in cash, land at Mumbai, and board a train to Kamakhya instead, not home. Then to Gauhati airport by cab, finally 2 hours by bus to Shillong. Freedom!

Madhu, will you miss me?

Joyce – Dear Diary, Shyam called today from the ship. It is really happening! I am so excited and yet so scared. I haven’t told Mom I’ve quit my job in Delhi. How can I tell her that I am running away with a married man and coming back home, but can’t meet her?

Shyam – DD, it’s been seven months here in Shillong … well, the greenery, the quiet, the hill station ambience are okay. But there’s also dirt, litter, traffic, pollution! Everything is so expensive here – the rent, electricity, groceries! I don’t know how long my money will last. Not easy to get a job either if one is an outsider. Wonder how Madhu’s doing…

Joyce  – Shit…It’s not as idyllic as I’d hoped. How long can we live like fugitives? That too in my home town? I miss my mother and sisters. I miss home. Dear Diary, I think I need to vanish too. Just disappear. Slip away one dark night.

Shyam, will you miss me?   

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Written by Beetashok Chatterjee

Beetashok Chatterjee is a seaman by profession. This old sea dog is also a wannabe poet/writer, avid reader, music lover, movie buff, cricket enthusiast and a restless spirit.