As she entered into her little room she saw a tiny bunk bed, a woman who at that time seemed strange because of all her tattoos and piercings sat on the lower bed. The woman was smoking up a joint and Meera had just walked into a hot box. Anyway, they exchanged their greetings and Meera took the upper bed, while she heard some loud flushing noises in the shared toilet.
Meera was just disappointed now, she had dreamed of a queen size bed like she had at her parents home and all she wanted to do after a long tiring day was to take a nap. But she couldn’t. She kept her luggage, ran outside the room with a few tears rolling down her eyes. While standing in the gallery and looking at the waters, Meera could hear a deep voice from behind “Hello, my name is Paul. I live in the room adjacent to you”. Meera quickly wiped her tears and looked at the guy, he was the same guy whom she saw painting on the deck while she waited to embark the ship. “Hello” said Meera trying to look a little disinterested. “This is my 4th cruise and if you need me to help you with anything, all you have to do is ask. I am from America and I work as a technician on Costa Romatica”.
This was the first time Meera felt comfortable since the time she was on the ship, she smiled and appreciated the humility that was shown towards her by this unknown guy. The staff then had to assemble in the assembly room on the same floor, Paul and Meera went together and talked for some more time on the way. “I love the silence of the ocean”, said Meera kind of hinting Paul to stop talking and let Meera gather her thoughts. But Paul was totally smitten as was visible from his face, he was blushing and went on and on about how it would be nice to have a friend on the ship. Meera hadn’t realized it yet, but Paul was already into her.
Meera was assigned the duties at the salon, she was to assist as a physical therapist. For the rest of the days on the ship Meera was supposed to wake up early at 6 a.m. and report at the salon at 8 a.m. and stay at the salon with the senior therapist for about 10 hours every day! ‘For those who help others relax get a little relaxation themselves’, she thought.
It was already late when everything was finally assigned and the staff was asked to disperse, Meera went straight to her room, climbed up the bunk bed and slept like a log. It’s times like these that shake you from your protected cocoon, that transform you into a butterfly. Meera didn’t care if there were sheets on the bed or if it was cozy and comfortable, all she needed was a place to sleep and she got it in her room. The morning was a different story though.
Next morning, Meera opened her eyes and saw her bunk mate staring at her, she shook and sat on the bed. “Can I help you with something?” enquired Meera, “No, you look pretty”, said the bunkmate. “huh?” and she left. Meera got down and got ready for breakfast which was served early for the staff. When she went out of her room, Paul was already waiting for her to come out so that they could go for breakfast together. Meera was kind of freaked out with him being so clingy initially, but as she eased out a little bit, at the breakfast table, she found out that Paul was a genuinely nice guy. The kinds you make good friends with. It was a better day, she learnt about physical therapy and enjoyed working at the salon. She also made a few friends from among the other staff members and some passengers.
She followed the same routine of waking up early, breakfast with Paul and then back to the room at 6pm, dress up and dinner with friends on-board, Paul and her bunkmate, for about seven days when the ship docked at Costa Rica. The staff members like the passengers could disembark the ship and visit the place, sight see and return to the ship for the night. Meera had a bad headache that day and she decided to stay in. When Paul came to inquire she told him she won’t be going anywhere because of her headache, leaving Paul a little sad. He had made plans for both of them to go snorkeling and scuba diving and also visit some beautiful waterfalls in the forest.
Meera rested for a bit and it was very quiet that day because there were a very few people on the ship in the afternoon. As she came out she saw Paul was on the dock waving at her and asking her to come to him. She saw two sunbeds, English tea and some biscuits. Paul had arranged for them to be together and ditched his plans of visiting Costa Rica as well. This gesture struck a chord with her and she was now happy in his presence, she felt like she knows him for a long time. She told him about her family and how close they are and how she loved painting and art. She also told Paul that she likes what she is doing on the cruise and will pursue a course in Physical Therapy too. Meera could feel something changing in her attitude as she started noticing how good looking Paul was, he was tall, had dark black eyes, black hair and as they talked, she couldn’t help but notice his lips. The way they move to talk, she was smitten too. They both spent hours with each other and just talked their hearts out. While sun was setting down, there were some feelings that were rising in both of them. They looked at the Sun and the way it spread its rays on the ocean, in absolute silence. They both could hear their hearts pounding, mouths drying and temperatures rising. In that moment, Paul looked into her eyes and held her hand, she blushed. This wasn’t a part of her plan but this was happening and she was happy that it was!
Meera laid her head on his shoulders and felt asleep. She woke up late in the night when people started returning and looked at Paul who was smiling at her. She also smiled and said “see you in the morning” and left for her room. While in her room, her bunk mate was waiting for her with a bunch of flowers, which could have been for a person not feeling well, but instead she said “I really like you Meera, past one week I have fallen for you and I really feel attracted to you”. “That’s sweet of you but I am not into women, I like men. I will accept these flowers as friends” said Meera while still thinking about how Paul’s hand felt in her hand. Her bunk mate was heartbroken, she hugged Meera and cried.
‘It’s these beautiful unknown waters that make everything look so full of love, the ocean the cruise, the romance. Maybe all this is only for the journey on Costa Romantica?’ thought Meera, while also thinking about Paul.
But the next day on the ship left her totally frazzled!
…to be continued