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Adventures in Aipotu
By Sanat Mohanty

Adventures in Aipotu: Episode 1, Part 3

She looked carefully at the boat. It was an old white boat with paint peeling off the sides. It was shaped like a motorboat with a steering wheel but she couldn't see any motor. The boat had no oars, either. The distance was far enough that she would not be able to swim to the island. She was worried now. The name of the boat was written in red on the stern - it said "Water Connoisseur". She stepped on to the boat. Immediately the boat began to make shrieking noises not very unlike a horse in pain. Damini jumped back on to the pier. Damini was all confused. Whoever had heard of a shrieking boat? But then whoever had heard of a Sunraylevator either? She turned back on to the pier, looking for other options. Then she noticed the signboard near the locked door. Walking up to the board, she noticed that it was an old wooden plank supported on a log of wood. On the board a badly painted sign. The paint was peeling off and it was difficult to read. With some difficulty, Damini deciphered the sign. It read:

When it is someone new you meet
What do you say? How do you greet?

And when it is some help you want
What is the favorite magic chant?

For this water crawler is more than a boat.
She's got personality besides an ability to float

The "Water Connoisseur' loves a song
So keep singing and she'll cruise along.

"Strange indeed", Damini thought, "a boat that likes songs". But she did not mind singing. Walking up to the boat she wondered which song Water Connoisseur would like. "Hello, Water Connoisseur", Damini greeted the boat cheerfully. "I am Damini." "Hello", the boat replied gruffly, still sulking from the discourteous behavior of Damini's. "I am sorry for my earlier behavior", Damini said apologetically. "I want to go to that island on the middle of the lake", Damini continued. " I was wondering if I could get a ride with you, please", Damini asked very politely. The boat purred quietly. Then she replied, "You do seem like a polite young woman and I could be coaxed into helping you". Damini almost thought she heard the boat chuckle. "This place is indeed pretty", Damini added, trying to make up to Water Connoisseur for her earlier rudeness. "I almost feel like breaking into a song. Is there something special you would like to hear?"

"Aah!", Water Connoisseur replied, " I do love songs, so go ahead and sing your heart out. And do jump abroad." Damini stepped in gingerly and sat down on the boat, thanking Water Connoisseur for her help. The boat turned around to face the island. Damini began singing:

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently through the lake.
Wonder, question, meditate,
And dream while you're awake.

This did not seem to be the poem she had learnt in school. She was getting her words mixed up. So she thought that she should try another one.

Whose woods these are I think I know.
No waste here, no garbage to throw;
No bottles or plastic to be seen
The rest of us should learn and follow.

These woods are lovely, lush, and green,
Elsewhere barren land is seen,
There are thousands of other places to clean,
And thousands of other places to clean.

This didn't seem like the poem she intended to sing either. Well, this was getting confusing. She decided to try a simpler poem. She was sure she could get this one right. So she began again

One, Two
Who is Who?
Three, Four
Rock like the Door
Five, Six
Pick up Styx
Seven Eight
Deadful Great
Nine Ten

This did not seem right either. She thought she was mixing up a poem with some music her father liked. She was all confused. Was she forgetting everything she had learnt? She had paused for a while now and Water Connoisseur coughed loudly and reduced her speed. "Are you still singing dear?" she asked Damini. "Oh well", Damini thought. Water Connoisseur seemed to enjoy the poems and didn't seem to know the difference so she might as well continue. Anyways, she was rather close to the shore now. She could see the edge of the island. Another song would probably get here there. Enthusiastically, she began again:

Dashing with the hoe
Through corn fields that sway,
No chemicals to throw,
Fertile, the earth will stay;
Hear sparrows tweeting,
Healthy is their plight,
Just listen to all the people sing
The harvest song tonight
Get rid of lumps, boils and swells,
From chemicals stay away!
Do not use pesticide
The earth, all right, will stay.

No, that was not correct either. But anyhow! They had reached the shore and Water Connoisseur was rocking with the beat of the song, clearly enjoying herself. "You sing wonderfully, dear", she commented. "I would love to give you a ride on this lake any time you wish. Just shout out for me", she added. Damini stepped out of the boat and thanked her. Then turning around, she walked up the short beach. There was a rim of palm trees swaying in the breeze. Still humming, she walked away from the coast, wondering what new things she would encounter.

Adventures in Aipotu
By Sanat Mohanty


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