by Moutushi Ghoshdeysarkar
“Hops! Where are you?” Nobs crawled on looking from left to right, two steps forward and turning back again. It has been a few months now, Nobs can see Hops – turning a corner while on land or beckoning him from the land whilst he is in his elevated water home – but when he arrives, he can’t find Hops.
Hops has always been faster and stronger since they were little babies – much smaller than the soft scoop that held them. Now both have outgrown the soft scoop that bring them out of the water home and place them on land and vice versa, Hops stouter than Nobs.
Ever since Nobs can remember, it was Hops who braved towards the food that would magically appear in the water home at the same time every day. Nobs didn’t want to risk going near the food – ‘what if it looked small, it might suddenly unfold into a monster’ – thought Nobs. But seeing Hops not getting eaten, day after day – gave Nobs courage. Finally, one day, he emerged near the surface but by then the food was gone – he was about to fall back to the depths when some more emerged – Nobs gulped down a few and it felt good.
“Why don’t you come in here bro?” Nobs called Hops who was enticing him to go crawling with him on land – a game both loved. The land seemed endless for the little ones. More often than not Nobs would flip over on his hard shell, call for help but Hops would just ignore and move on. Nobs on the other hand tried to flip Hops back over if stuck but could not garner the strength. The two giants would come in handy, their incessant howling would bring the soft scoop, which would then flip us both or either the right side again.
Hops had never been a great talker but he would always have Nobs’ back or take him to unexplored territories where Nobs would never even think of venturing had it been not on Hops’ tow – only to be amazed and filled with gratitude towards Hops. Hops would be the one to nibble on something interesting and Nobs followed, Hops would totter over an obstacle even if it seemed formidable and Nobs followed. Sometimes it was difficult keeping pace with Hops and Nobs would patiently wait for Hops, and come back he would for sure, even if it was after what seemed eternity – but ever since the day when soft scoop took Hops out of the water home, Nobs had been awaiting his return – but he didn’t. Off late Hops beckons him from land but Nobs wonders ‘why doesn’t Hops come in their water home?’
Today Nobs has decided to get hold of Hops and have a ‘bold talk’. This can’t go on! He quickly turned a corner that he thought Hops would have gone by – but alas! no sign of Hops. ‘Did he go beyond the break line somehow?’ Nobs thought. The break line was always a stopper – there was no way forward, though one could see land beyond – just like the solid water that bordered their water home.
Neither Hops or Nobs have ever crossed the break line, Hops tried several times but Nobs took the cue and turned even before hitting it – ‘why break your head on something that only gives blurred visions or the uncomfortable flip?’ Nobs always thought and told Hops, who of course paid no head to Nobs’ wisdom. In the water home flips were fun, as they could flip back, do the twirl along the jet stream – everything was in control the moment they wanted it to be. But on land their movement were a bit cumbersome specially the land being so smooth and slippery.
The otherwise skeptical Nobs went ahead, today he was unstoppable – he went till the break line, and there he was – Hops was standing and smiling on a slightly elevated land. Nobs took a step and then another and one more and he had crossed the line! This was a miracle – for the first time ever and thanks to Hops he could cross the break line and come to this unexplored zone. ‘What a brilliant adventurer Hops is, may be that is why he never came back to our water home – he found a way to bypass the break line and now has a vast territory – may be even another water home, or plenty more’ Nobs thought, his heart racing.
“Hops! Hops!” Nobs could hardly move his limbs; Hops was nowhere in sight. The ecstasy was momentary as he flew – and then bang! he hit the land hard. The land was unfamiliar and Nobs could not move. He lay that way for a very long time. He kept on thinking about Hops through the excruciating pain.
Then there was the soft scoop again. It hurt terribly and Nobs flinched. The soft scoops changed many times, the pain was unbearable and as if to give Nobs some relief the heart started beating very slowly. Then at once a calm came over.
“Hops?” Nobs opened his eyes to a vast expanse of water and a little distance away on an embankment was Hops. His smiling ever confident self, beckoning – Nobs crawled and splashed into the water – waddling he reached Hops. Hops extended his claws and picked him up in a clean sweep.
They were together again, neither of them would ever go back to their water home ever, this was their new home – vast unexplored expanse – adventure!
Nobs could see the soft scoop waving, it was attached to a huge form too big to comprehend.
PS: In memory of our Bheti, the gentle turtle whom we lost on the 30th of April 2023, a slight lapse on our guard and the little one went to the balcony and jumped from the 7th floor balcony, he breathed his last on the doctor’s table as he gave injections to make his passing quick. We had lost our Kheti, the daredevil turtle – on 3rd September 2022 – her passing was so sudden… her heart just stopped before we could do anything – her memory is in the form of a short story – ‘Rusty goes Swimming’