Sue moved into her rented apartment in Jakarta. It had been raining and the sweet smell of moist earth filled the air. She would soon learn that this is what the weather was like in Indonesia. Her apartment at Kelapa Hijau was a solitary multistory tower overlooking low-rise houses. Sue had been appointed Head of Department in an international school in Jakarta for the next year and a half.
A few days later a letter arrived. It was addressed to Sandra. Sue found out from her maid that Sandra had occupied the apartment previously. She was from Australia and had hastily left the apartment leaving no forwarding address. Not knowing what to do with the envelope, Sue slit it open, curious.
“My loving sister Sandra,
I was feeling a terrible void in my monotonous life. You very well know I earn enough so now I have decided to take a break from work and travel. I will be going to at least eleven countries.
How is your latest short story collection coming along? I have decided to write you a detailed letter from each place, with my experiences. They may be useful for your stories. Yesterday a strangely shocking incident happened…
I am in New Zealand right now, in the South Island on the lovely Otago coast. Last night there was a full moon and I visited the Moeraki boulders. These are perfectly round boulders sitting on the beach. It’s strange to find such huge boulders on the beach.
The moonlight washed the scene milky white and the waves broke against the shore with all their might emitting white froth. It was a strikingly surrealist scenario. I was the only person on the lonely beach in the wee hours of the morning. A scruffily dressed teenager came up to me. The boy was wearing a shabby grey coat and ill-fitting trousers.
“Hey mate! lovely night. My elder brother is a life-guard sitting up in the watch tower. When there is a full moon we play a game. I call it the Game of Guts. I dive into the sea and my brother jumps daringly into the water and gets me back. My brother is a mighty fellow and I trust him completely.”
The boy left his coat and jumped from one of the farthest boulders. I shouted and whistled only to realise dismally that there was no one in the watch tower. No one came and the boy drowned. It was a terribly depressing time before the police arrived and fished out his body. In his coat pocket I found a note saying how disoriented he was with his life. Later I came to know from the locals that lots of teenagers had committed suicide in the previous year in New Zealand. It was a matter of great concern.
At the end of the sorrowful story a mesmerised Sue wondered what tales the other ten stories would tell!
Writers: Hemali Ajmera (Ind), Anna Zhigareva (Scot), Iliena Bosu (Ind), Sumanda Maritz (S. Africa), Suraya Dewing (NZ), Dan Oliver (NZ), Donna McTavish (NZ), Angela Shaw (NZ), Dan Oliver (NZ), Ashutosh Shukla (Ind)