Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Day at the Beach

You were having a picnic at the beach with your friends. While you were eating, a little boy came towards you. He was crying.

- At the beach
- You and your friends (note – 'friends' is plural. This means there must be at least 2 friends with me.)

- Having a picnic

- eating

- a little boy came towards me.

- he was crying.

That last beautiful Sunday morning, in the last June holidays, started off the way how all perfect picnics should. The balmy weather, the gentle breeze by the beach, and most important of all, the best companions – Ray and Marvin.

"Hey, Ray. Try this muffin. I am sure you will have me to thank for life," Marvin shoved a muffin into Ray's hand.

There was something fishy about Marvin. He was a guy with the biggest heart I ever knew but, as a food lover, he seldom offered food to others but himself. I snatched the chocolate chip muffin from Ray's hand and sank my teeth into it. "How could I ever give up the last muffin we have to Ray. I haven't even taken any yet!" I thought to myself.

All too soon, the stinging sensation invaded into every taste bud in my mouth and through my nostrils and mouth. I screamed in protest. Marvin was up to his tricks again. Without our knowledge, he had slathered lavishly wasabi onto the muffin! As I jumped up and down with those nostrils of mine snorting away from the wasabi, Marvin was laughing his head off. Ray too, burst into uncontrollable laughter. This was just so typical of Marvin and no one would have the heart to bear any grudges with him. I could not help but laughed at myself after spitting out the 'tampered' muffin.

Our merry-making took a complete turn when it was interrupted by someone crying more loudly than the racket we were making. I spun around to see a little boy, probably five or six of age, walking towards our direction.

Our laughter ceased at the sight of the approaching boy whose face was streaked with tears and dirt. We exchanged glances with each other before the boy stopped right in front of me.

"Oh man! Why me?" I cursed under my breath. I had never been good with little kids. They somehow did not take to me. And now, I was face-to-face with one such creature. To make it worse, this one standing in front of me had to be a cry baby!

"Hey, what’s the matter, Dude?" Marvin squatted down and asked in concern.

The boy continued to cry. Ray and I tried to say something comforting but all we could manage was some useless mutterings of "Don't cry. Don't cry."

I looked around for anyone who could be the crying boy's parents. His cries did not stop but thankfully not as loud as before. No panicky-looking adults around us. Whoever the parents of this boy were, I wondered if they knew their son was driving me nuts.

Ray was the more patient one. He helped to wipe away the tears and clean off the mucous from the boy's face. "What's your name?" he asked. "Where's your mummy?"

The bawled even louder at the word 'Mummy'. Ray was taken aback and looked completely helpless. "What have I done?" he mouthed to me.

I shrugged my shoulders.

"Hey, hey, look what I've got," Marvin dug into his pocket. He adeptly fished something out and hid it behind his back.

That did it! Spellbound, the boy hushed down and his cried reduced to sobbing. Marvin went on with his trick. Ray and I too watched in awe, anticipating what this guy was up to again. I had always admired him. He was always full of surprises.

Like a veteran magician, Marvin had the boy's attention completely captured. His hands moved swiftly in front of the boy and out of nowhere, he grew a chuppa chup from his hand upon snapping his fingers once.

"You want some more magic?" he asked, handing the lollipop to the boy.

The absolutely mesmerized boy nodded.

"Tell me your name first and I'll do something more awesome," Marvin coaxed.

"Kenny," the boy finally spoke a word, soft but audible to be heard. I was greatly relieved. I was certain that Ray was too. His cries were getting on every single nerve. Marvin was marvellous. I saluted him from the bottom of my heart.

"Ok, Kenny. Why are you alone?" Marvin asked. His nimble hands began working again.

His magic show resumed but did not get to the end.

"Kenny, Kenny, where did you go?" a young woman came running in our direction, breathless and clearly shaken.

"Mummy!"Kenny made a dash to the young woman's embrace.
"Thanks. Kenny wandered off on his own while we were unloading our car. Thanks." she explained.

Marvin replied gentlemanly, "Don't mention at all. It's my pleasure. Kenny is awesome. Bye Kenny, go back to your mummy."

Ray and I smiled sheepishly and we watched Kenny and his mother receding into the other end of the beach.

We got back to our picnic mat. By then, the wasabi had stopped acting up. "Hey, bro, you were good eh? I wonder what else you can grow from your hand," I gave his shoulder a friendly tap.

"It is this!" Marvin dangled a tube of wasabi before me and threatened to squirt it onto my face.

"Run, Ray. Don’t let him get us!" The three of us got into a mad chase, hearts soaring, our friendship growing, not from Marvin's fingers but from seeing a crying Kenny reuniting with his mother.

That last beautiful Sunday morning, in the last June holidays, ended off they way how all perfect picnics should. The balmy weather, the gentle breeze by the beach, and most important of all, the best companions – Ray and Marvin.

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