Thursday, October 29, 2009

Devout Atheist

Let me spend no more than one introductory sentence acknowledging how dry my pen has been for too many months now. Here is my mojo. I had lost it. But then I found it. Now I shall begin.

I had lunch with a devout Christian once. She, simultaneously, was having lunch with a devout Atheist. She had more fun that I did, that’s for sure. While listening to her bang on about God, I learned that God liked to test people. Apparantly, he killed nine of her friends in a bus crash – to test her. Then he killed her fiance… you know, just to test her again. Nice guy, God. Full of surprises.

While sailing the Adaman Seas, off the coast of Thailand, God decided to test me.

Having fun, Kim? Mind if I spoil the party? He probably said, as he began meddling with my holiday.

The players in this holiday are: Paso Doble, the catamaran boat my dad had chartered for two weeks off the coast of Thailand. (I know, sounds rubbish doesn’t it.) Me, present and correct. Bryan, my dad, captain of the ship. Gareth, my boyfriend, Nigel, his dad, and Nicola, a dear, friend of mine. We have the same appetite. I love her.

Firstly, our team of five became four. No, God didn’t test me by killing one of my beloved. That would have been extra specially mean and in fact puts into perspective just what I went through compared to the God botherer I lunched with. All that happened was my boyfriend got sick and went home – but being a savvy wordsmith, I’m going to eek it out into a full entry of woe and sorrow and by jove, by the end of it, you’ll be asking directions to the nearest church.

It was monsoon season, so I might have expected torrential rain. But still, it didn’t help. It just made everything all the more miserable and wet.

After another restless night, Gareth decided he’d had enough and needed to get to a hospital. Being a caring and committed girlfriend, I decided not to go with him. After all, it might be sunny again soon and this skin doesn’t brown itself.

So it was arranged that Jones senior would take Jones junior to hospital, while Captain Bryan, Nicola and myself would wait on the beautiful island of Ko Kradan for their hopefully safe return. But at 6am that morning, God decided to climb aboard our boat and wee everywhere, metaphorically speaking. Although, it did rain a lot. Rain is god’s wee.

We were warned there would be immigration problems, if Gareth tried to leave the boat. Crew members aren’t allowed to leave willy nilly, you see. It’s the law of the sea.

Best we all took a Thai dragon boat taxi over to the mainland and try to explain to the immigration officials what was going on together, as a team. As a crew. So, donning waterproofs, we headed to the rickety dragon boat.

Breakfast was out of the question, we had urgent immigrational issues to sort out. Five hours and a lot of confused customs officials later, we finally had our passports stamped.

‘Mr Sick go home?’ the customs man asked, pointing at Gareth. Yes, Mr Sick go home. As we waved him off, there was an impending sense of doom in all our hearts. We had lost a man. It didn’t feel right. Shipmates were meant to stick together. Shipmates were meant to drink rum and say ahoy. It was not to be.

The rain kept coming as Gareth was taken away. Time for us to head back to our boat, the Paso Doble. Lunchtime passed by in a blur, not a sausage passed any lips. I can sometimes muster the power to skip breakfast, but not lunch too.

God was obviously enjoying our suffering. A little more rain, chaps? Why yes please, thank you God, how kind of you, just in time for our crossing back to the island.

The waves crashing all about us were higher than the boat. At times I was sure the law of physics were going out the window and we were certain to capsize. It felt as if an invisible man (was it you, God?) was throwing buckets of salt water in my face. I wasn’t happy.

Dad, however, took the opportunity to sleep. We were being thrown around in a boat no bigger than a bath tub, in a storm we later found out to be the tail winds of a cyclone, and he napped. Amongst all the sadness of losing Gareth and the horribleness of the rain, Nicola and I mustered a giggle. (it was hard – we were very hungry. But we managed it) We laughed at Dad’s crap waterproofs filling up with rain. We laughed at how he managed to sleep through the invisible man’s bucket throwing. We laughed at how cold and wet and hungry we were. We laughed because that was all we had left.

We got back to the island at 5pm. Still not a morsel had passed our lips.

Would you like a slightly warm shower followed by some dinner, God asked. Yes please, we begged.

Ah… the day was looking up. Nothing like a slightly warm shower after you’ve been caught in a cyclone.

Hungry now? God asked. Well, your boat is drifting. I made it drift. Go and sort it out.

Damn you God! Into our little dingy we went, to save our boat from drifting to shore. So much for that lovely post shower feeling. In it’s place, a salty residue only splashes of sea water can provide.

Up anchor. Move boat. Down anchor.

You’ve worked so hard, said God. Back to the island for dinner.

Soaking wet, Nicola and I ordered a tea. It tasted funny. Then we ordered curry. Then the rain came back. It came back so hard that even under the canopy of the restaurant, we still got rained on. We huddled under our waterproofs, no one even complaining.

‘I wonder what else could go wrong today?’ Dad asked. Hats off to him – it was 7pm and it was his first negative thought of the day. Nicola and I had been having – and saying – them since 6am. But Dad has a remarkable ability to stay upbeat. ‘What an adventure!’ he’ll usually say, come hell or high water. So, God, you knew you were on to a winner of a bad day when you had Dad complaining.

Exhausted and miserable, we headed back to the yacht. As we clambered aboard, we all hoped it was the end of God’s tests.

Opp, no, one more thing. I’m just going to whisk the hat off your head and drop it in the water, God said. Ha ha ha. Go fetch.

Cheers God. Watching my Dad lunge spread eagled into the dingy from the edge of the yacht in a vain attempt to rescue his hat, to the chorus of ‘’it’s not worth it!’ from his bemused crew, was a sight for sore eyes.

But rescue his hat he did. It may have been a bad day, but we managed to deliver Gareth to dry land, survive a cyclone, rescue a drifting yacht and a drifting hat – and all on an empty stomach.

Not bad for a bunch of Atheists.


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