Back on the atoll, between prayers and working in his father’s sundry shop, the young Muslim man had watched the five surfers leap from the pier and repeatedly disappear in and emerge from waves. In Arabic, his father called them “water tunnels.” With his friends and family and many of the passengers on this ship, the young Muslim man sat and stood on the white concrete railing, his dark face and beard catching the salt mist from big sets as they blasted through the pilings beneath him. The pier trembled.
The young Muslim man grew vexed at the government that poked this thing into the center of a surf zone. Boats can’t dock to it. And since the reefs are environmentally sensitive, locals can’t fish from it. The pier is useful only as an extension from the coconut confines of atoll life and to watch surfers, but nobody surfs in Lakshadweep. Yet. Konig left a Cossart alaia, Anderson left two snapped Hayden thrusters.
Today the young Muslim man feels fresh. He’s going to see his younger brother and older sister. And the fajr is his favorite ritual because it connects him to Allah at dawn, his favorite time of day.
He walks upstairs and outside. The warm wind wipes his face as he inhales deeply. He waves at Konig and Gordon, up towards the ship’s bow.
Cochin is near. It’s his big-world downtown, a noisy, stinking, crowded sprawl of high-rises, a snake pit of sweat and slow traffic. It’s his sister’s temporary home while she attends Cochin University of Science & Technology. She wants to be a marine biologist.
The young Muslim man thinks that, next month, when he returns home, if pirates don’t get to it first, he’d really like to try that alaia.