‘Coracle’ Chapter 1: The Storm

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‘Coracle’ Chapter 1: The Storm

Vinod was sweating profusely. Perspiration had wet his clothes and the bedsheet. The sudden sitting up had given him a head rush. Wiping off his face with his sleeves, he tried to come back to his senses. The nightmare had taken its toll. This was one of the usual episodes he had after the great tragedy of his life.

Looking over to the right, he saw his kids sleeping peacefully on the plastic mats. Looking at their peaceful slumber, Vinod found his heart returning to the normal speed it was used to.

He got off the bed, walked towards the regulator and increased the fan’s speed. Then he got into the bed, adjusting himself under the blanket in a comfortable position trying to get some sleep. The clock had just past the 1 o’clock mark, and he had two more hours to sleep. But sleep was a rare luxury. Nevertheless, he had to try acquiring the luxury of sleep as in a few hours he had to get up and start with a fresh day trying his luck at fishing. It was summer, and fish would come up to the surface to feed on underwater plants in the moonlight. Early in the morning just before the sunrise was the perfect time to catch some big fish and Vinod didn’t want to miss this opportunity. After about half an hour of rolling in the bed, Vinod finally fell asleep.


The weather forecast had predicted heavy rains and flooding. A red alert was issued in the areas around the lake. But Vinod was already on the far side of the lake when he heard about the bad weather. He couldn’t get back home and be with his family to face the storm. There was also no way to contact his wife and alert her. He could only pray that she had paid attention to the warnings and moved to the higher grounds just like all other people had in the fishermen’s village.

Despite the red alert and the storm looming at the horizon, the other side of the lake was calm and quiet. It was just like the peace before the approaching storm, and it was when Vinod made his decision. He decided that he had to be home back with his family. He would attempt to row back home through the vast lake and try to reach his family before the storm hits. His companions advised against it, but Vinod would not listen. He was convinced that since the lake was peaceful, he could row back to the other side as fast as possible and be there before the storm hit the village. Although in his heart he knew he could never do that; as his boat was a small coracle without a motor which needed rowing and since none of his companions had agreed to row along with him, he had to do it singlehandedly. The “Sheena” was one of the biggest lakes in the country, and it was not possible for a single man to row from one side to the other overnight without taking a break. However, he had to give it a shot for his loved ones.

The sun was setting on the far side of the lake. The horizon had cut a clear slice of the sun; eating half of it. The sky had responded by throwing bright mixtures of yellow, red and orange. The sun would not let go without a fight. Soon the mixtures of colours were attacked by an army of black clouds accompanied by gusty winds. Vinod had rowed nonstop for the past one hour, and it seemed as if he had not moved more than a mile. He knew he would never make it on time, and soon the dark sky would attack him with bullets of water. His coracle will be filled with water, and without a pump, he would be forced to clear it manually. With the rowing and the clearing of water, he would never make it to the shore before the storm had hit the village and caused its devastation. But he kept on paddling, moving inch by inch slowly and slowly towards the horizon; eager to meet his family before the storm met him.

The wind was picking up speed against the coracle blowing his shirt over his back. The sun had finally given up; the horizon had eaten the sun whole. The final signs of the sun displayed an array of bright colours on the sky. But soon these colours were overtaken by the army of dark clouds. The faint tree lines on either side of the lake were fading. Soon he would be in pitch darkness. He would have to paddle through without any lights and with poor visibility as the rain was going to pour on him heavily. Any minute now the rain was going to pour on him mercilessly, yet he kept paddling.

All of a sudden, it felt as if the sky was unleashing its wrath on the horizon. Its beloved sun was swallowed without mercy, and the heavens were not going to let go of it so easily. It had decided to take its fury on whatever came in its way; Vinod not being an exception.

As the rain hit his chest, it felt as if a thousand bullets were fired on him from the opposing camps. Still, he kept rowing on facing the rain bullets without any armour. His T-shirt was stuck to his chest, drenched in the heavy rains; it had become one with his body. Yet he kept rowing at full speeds.

The rain started filling up his coracle with water. The coracles are simple round boats, built mainly for fishing or transporting people from one side of a lake to the other. Yet they were sturdy enough to keep themselves afloat in a storm. But since the shape of the coracle was round, it was difficult to cut through a violent storm, and the lack of a motor made it even more challenging to generate enough force to manoeuvre the boat in the right direction. Moreover, the water had to be cleared manually.

Vinod had to take some time from his rowing to clear the water off the boat as it was getting filled in at alarming speed. He could not multitask by rowing single-handedly and clearing the water at the same time. He got hold of a small bucket from the back of the boat and started clearing the water with the speed his arms allowed. His arms were already aching with all the nonstop rowing for hours, and now he could not take a break lest he would be drowned. For the first time, he started thinking that this was a huge mistake. He also considered turning back, but that would take the same amount of time and energy. There was an equal probability that he would still drown in the storm attempting to get back to where he started. Keeping the thoughts of his family in mind, he kept clearing the water; all the while reciting a small prayer to his Gods.

The Sun God; the giver of light was swallowed violently by the evil horizon, and this was the wrath of its beloved heavens which was down pouring. No gods could help him now. Yet he kept praying for a miracle. In the pitch darkness, the only light he could see was from the left side of the lake. It felt like an illusion at first. Then he realized that it was from a small temple as he could hear the bells ringing. The temple was abandoned due to the storm warnings, and the violent winds were ringing the bells for him. Vinod joined his hands in prayer and started praying to whichever god he could think of and whoever was free to help him by sending a miracle.

He prayed for his wife, for his kids; for them to be safe far away from the dangers of the storm. He had forgotten to pray for himself. The only prayer he could think of was for the safety of his family.

Sydney Billford Monteiro

Sydney Billford Monteiro was born and brought up in Mangalore, Karnataka. An HR by profession, he has a Masters in Social Work and is working for the Hospitality Industry in Bangalore. He is an avid reader of Crime Thrillers, Mystery novels, and Science books. Creative writing and poetry is his passion.

He loves exploring the world of stories. His favourite pastime is experimenting with real-life events, creating characters, and turning them into engaging storylines. 

Apart from reading and writing the author loves football; his favourite game and watching movies that depict unusual concepts and real-life events. 

He also loves to have a healthy debate over a scientific idea.

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