“You really cannot be serious” she looked at her husband in a mixture of shock and more than a little bit of nervousness as they sat at the real estate agents office. A dingy mixture of island green artificial carpet and too bright yellowish walls.
“Well if you have an idea that wont let go, you might as well follow through no?” Jalal said as he thumbed through some house guides lying next to them on a singular table like nobody had touched them in months.
“Jalal when you said one day I thought it meant one day in the future after we had visited this place half a dozen times and gotten ourselves immersed in it enough to make a rational decision you know? Like rational people do!”
“Hmphh if I had been so rational I would have never asked you for your hand woman” he quipped
Zarmina scrunched her nose in mock distaste as she thought of her life before and after the asking part, she had always been a pragmatic person careful and thoughtful but when the scruffy writer with his flair for the dramatic had come calling she had not been able to say no. He had been a storm that had wooed her dated her and then married her, even now she got emails from some of her friends who could not believe that she had married a writer.
“Ahem” the agent cleared his throat as he walked in and looked at them with a glance that was used to looking over couples that came here and fell in love with the place. A fickle love that lasted nay a few months after which the endless trail of paperwork began again to get them back to safer shores of stability.
“New are we”?
“Yes new but we already love this place, have you been in this field long?” Jalal looked at the old tanned man with enough creases in his face to resemble the bark of an old tree and his clothing as colorful as his office, a white shirt and light blue sarong.
“ Long enough, my names sammy” he nodded at the man and then at the woman besides him wondering why in the world a vision like her was with a disheveled mess that her hubby represented.
“You see my husband, well he likes this place and so we thought we would you know check out some options” Zarmina said, before her hubby could open his mouth again, she could smell impulse usually a mile before he got it now.
“Some options. Yes well this place has plenty of options from here to tangalle” here being galle fort where they now had as their starting point “why don’t you guys tell me what’s in your mind”
“A beach house! Something with air and sunlight and welcoming spirits” blurted the mess his mouth open in a wide grin
“Yes well my friend there are many sorts of beach houses here, as you know we are sitting right at the edge of a long coast line” Always the beach sammy thought for these fools, the towns were cheaper and ten minutes away but no we all must have some mutated version of a fairytale at our doors to complain about after a month tops.
“Maybe we can just look for now” Zarmina ventured with a smile to sammy.
“No no zari you know I’m serious, I want to do this”
“Might I suggest something?” said sammy “why don’t you do this, there are some rentals available on the strip, lets take a look at something a bit more temporary before we rush”
Zarmina liked this man more and more by the passing second, obviously he was not out to make a quick buck on her husbands insanity but was presenting a more sagacious plan.
“All right but that’s just for starters” growled Jalal. He hated it when this happened, people saw things zaris ways instantly and he never got his way anymore. It was almost like they could not see him there at times.
“Right settled then, now have a nice day and here is my card, come by in the morning and off we shall go hunting for your little beach house”
“Great” smiled zari nodding with appreciation
“Ok” mumbled Jalal as they got up and he swiped the card from the man walking out before his wife into waning sun.
With zarminas usually efficiency they arrived the next morning right on time, in fact 14 minutes before it and waited outside for the agent to arrive. As Jalal silently brooded and his wife waited, the agent drove up in a rickety old station wagon. He pulled down his window after turning the handle a couple of times till there was air between the top and his chin and shouted
“So you guys ready?”
“We have been ready for the past 20 minutes, where have you been” said Jalal
“Ahh well at my age my friend time is an abstract thing come sit lets take you for a ride”
Jalal held the door open for his wife and they both slid into the back seat, then after a moment of realization he got out and slid into the front seat next to the old coot as he guffawed over some mental joke.
“ So? Ive lined up quite a spread for you”
With twin nods from husband and wife the agent put his car in gear and they rolled out of the parking lot. It didn’t take them long to hit the beach strip from where they started in galle fort, maybe about 20 or so minutes and they were there, long startling coastline and a strip of estates sitting in front of it with smallish gardens in front and many a palm tree waving in the wind before the stretch of water. As they went to house after house though both Jalal and Zarmina discovered that they were too high fi, totally out of their budget rang and more like little resorts then houses one could live in for any length of time. After the third house the discontent was completely visible on Jalal’s face
“ Look Sammy, this is really not working out for us, is this all you got”
“Well what do you expect, people here invest in these places because they know those who want to rent them will want all these amenities”
“But we are looking for something less grand, you know like a cottage or something” said zarmina realizing she needed to step in before Jalal went postal on the agent.
“A cottage, my lady this is prime beach estate outside the galle fort about 14 minutes from shopping and stores, I don’t think anyone would build a cottage here. Its not worth the investment”
“Then maybe we should look further up the coast” suggested Zarmina with one eye on her husband.
“Ah well then you will have to speak to the natives, I only go as far as the mobile phone signal goes, beyond that its either too cheap or too troublesome the business”
“I think you have done what you could sammy, you can head back now” said Jalal knowing there was plenty of transportation on the road behind the estates in the form of tuk tuks for them to explore further.
“Listen my friend, we may have liberated ourselves from the tamils but that does not mean the wilderness is completely secure” sammy jerked his head towards the clumps of trees one could see in the distance along the beach.
“ I think we will do fine – thank you” Jalal’s tone was icy now; he had taken enough of the glitzy crap he had been made to suffer through all damn day.
Enough will be when I hear screams to please pick us back up, thought sammy as he handed his card to zarmina
“Alright then I shall leave the love birds alone and with a number just in case”
He turned around and walked stiffly to his car, another bloody morning wasted after foreigners who don’t know what the hell they are doing. In and out they went of this strip like the waves before him. He slammed the door and coaxed the engine back to life and left them standing there in a hail of sand and dust!!
To be continued……