It seemed so surreal. Just that morning Sarah was sitting with their children in the kitchen, coaxing them to finish their breakfasts, and less than twelve hours later she was with Tanya in the first-class section of an airplane, flying through the night, on their way to Singapore for a week of rest and recreation!
“I can’t believe that you arranged this trip so spontaneously Tanya. I love this romantic side of yours and I really feel like a pampered princess.”
“You do realize that it’s our anniversary next week,” said Tanya as she reached across the seat to gently clasp Sarah’s hand.
“Of course, I do, but you know how busy we both have been with the children and work it just slipped my mind to mention anything about it to you. I had actually asked Razia to help me rent a beach hut at Hawkes Bay, Karachi just for the two of us…but this is so much better. Thank you!” Sarah smiled at Tanya and raised her glass of chilled orange juice, toasting her partner of twenty years.
“Has it been twenty years already?” said Tanya as if she was reading Sarah’s mind. “Believe me when I say that if I had to do it all over again, it would be so much more fun because you would be always by my side. I know I don’t tell you this enough, but I am blessed to have you in my life. I love you Sarah, and my love for you grows day by day as I see you develop into the different roles you so smoothly take on. Student, doctor, wife, and mother. You are amazing!”
Sarah just smiled gently and looked at Tanya with happy tears in her eyes. Yes, they both had been blessed with a love so pure that it could only be considered divine.
“It’s quite late now so why don’t we settle down and have a nap? I think I will ask for some blankets, because I am quite tired and I have a busy itinerary planned for us once we reach our hotel,” Tanya stretched and yawned. “Moreover, we just have to try these new seats. They fold out into beds, and with the reviews I have read, I am certain we will sleep quite well.” Tanya pressed the call button and asked for assistance to fold out both of their seats into the well-advertised beds. They were pleasantly surprised when they given crisp sheets and a soft fluffy blanket as well. Once the beds were made and they were comfortable, the flight attendant drew the privacy curtain making them feel as if they were in their own exclusive cocoon.
“You are right as usual Tanya; this is very comfortable. I think I am going to be spoiled and will refuse to travel coach henceforth,” giggled Sarah as she bounced on the bed. Turning towards Tanya, she reached out, clasped her hand, tucked it under her chin and promptly fell asleep. Tanya looked at her affectionately and then lulled by the hum of the airplane’s engine, followed her into the land of Morpheus.
It seemed as if they had just fallen asleep when the flight attendant came and gently shook Tanya awake. “We will be landing in an hour. I will be serving breakfast in a little while. Would you like me to help you fold the seats once more.”
Tanya nodded, still bleary eyed from the deep sleep she was awoken from. She leaned over to wake Sarah up and gratefully accepted the hot wet towel that was handed to her by the flight attendant.
“Has it already been five hours?” said Sarah. “I was sleeping so deeply that I didn’t realize how the time went by. We must have been exhausted.” She smiled at Tanya as she stood up and rummaged in her bag for her toiletries and went to use the restroom.
When Sarah came back, the seats were in their usual upright position, and the meal table had starched tablecloths draped over them. As soon as she sat down two trays with their breakfast were set in front of them.
“How would you like to have your eggs done?” the flight attendant asked them. Both looked at each other with a smile and said together “scrambled!”
“We just have time to finish our breakfast, then we land in Singapore. After checking into the hotel, I would like to take you shopping because I just had the essentials packed and we do need a change of clothes otherwise we will start to smell quite ripe.” Tanya laughed as she playfully sniffed Sarah and made a funny face. Sarah stuck out her tongue and grinned.
“Very mature Dr. Sarah Kareem-Shah,” exclaimed Tanya, but she couldn’t stop laughing. It had been a while since they had felt so light-hearted and just had each other as company. It was as if they were recharging their energy. And it felt so good.
Once they checked into their luxurious suite at one of the well-known five-star hotels on Orange Grove road, they immediately left the hotel to buy what they needed at the nearby famous shopping area on Orchard road.
“This is all so expensive,” said Sarah as she reluctantly riffled through the hangers in a renowned boutique.
“No, it isn’t,” laughed Tanya. “We were due to be pampered, and I want to have only the best… for both of us on this trip. So, stop being picky and start shopping.”
Sarah grinned and shrugged. Much later and armed with shopping bags from famous couture houses and boutiques, they made their way to one of the Michelin Star restaurants who according to the concierge of the hotel assured them served only authentic Singaporean cuisine.
“Remind me to tip the concierge for recommending this restaurant,” said Tanya as she paid the bill for their leisurely five course lunch.
“Let us go back to the hotel. I would like to have a short rest and change into something more casual. We will go out after sunset. I have a surprise for you.” Tanya smiled as she saw Sarah looking at her impatiently, nearly bursting with curiosity.
“And if you even think that I am going to spoil the surprise beforehand, you are mistaken my love.” Tanya smirked as she helped Sarah gather their bags and hail a taxi.
Having a nap in the luxurious bed was like floating on a cloud. One could see that no expense had been spared by the hotel to make their guests feel as comfortable as possible.
After about two hours, Tanya looked down at her partner as she cupped her cheek affectionately and stroked it with her thumb. She gently shook the sleeping woman who had been using her shoulder as a pillow.
“Wake up Sarah. It’s nearly sunset. We have to get ready ro go otherwise we will miss your surprise.”
Sarah was up and alert immediately. It was her training as a physician that enabled her to go from zero to hundred as soon as she woke up. Tanya had yet to see Sarah groggy with sleep. It was a facet that had always fascinated her, and was quite useful when looking after their children.
They were showered and dressed in their new casual clothes within a short time. While Sarah was in the shower, Tanya had called down to the concierge for a taxi. Therefore, they just had to step out of the hotel, and they were on their way.
“Can you tell me now where we are going?” Sarah said in an amused voice that was mildly tinged with exasperation.
“Wait! Patience! You will know in a few minutes!” Tanya could not stop laughing at Sarah’s childlike pout.
The Taxi stopped in front of what could only have been considered a lush tropical garden. A large billboard announced that this was the Singapore Zoo.
“Seriously? You have brought me to the zoo?” Sarah could not stop laughing. “I think you are confusing me with Dania and Hana.”
“Not at all. I have brought you here to go with me on a Night Safari. I have been here once before and it’s amazing.” Tanya was quite excited as she explained to Sarah how the animals roamed free and largely ignored the tourists who drove through the controlled areas on electric trams and buggies.
“What a wonderful idea, Tanya. I love animals…”
“I know.” Tanya smirked, happy that her surprise hadn’t backfired.
“Let’s get the tickets, I was told that they start the first tour immediately after sunset. That is about the time when the nocturnal animals come out to play.”
Just as they were about to step up to the ticket booth, Tanya’s cell phone started to ring with the distinctive tone she had just for her office. Annoyed, Tanya rejected the call and grinned at Sarah as she nonchalantly flung the phone back into her bag. But it started to ring again and kept on ringing every time Tanya rejected the call.
Sarah sighed as she had a feeling that their idyllic holiday was about to be interrupted. “You had better get that or Mr. Humphrey will continue to call till you pick up.”
“I could just switch the blinking thing off, but I want to be in touch with the girls in case they need us. It’s a bit inconvenient that you dropped your phone in the swimming pool before we travelled.”
“Well, I was going to buy a new phone, but I was shanghaied before I could,” laughed Sarah.
The next time the phone rang with its strident tone, Tanya reluctantly answered it, but even though she was polite, she made it a point to project her annoyance to her boss.
“Tanya, I need you to investigate the kidnapping of Mr. White’s daughter immediately,” shouted Mr. Humphrey without any preliminary politeness.
“Hello to you too boss. In case you have forgotten, you signed my leave application, and I am not anywhere near Mr. White at the moment…”
“I know, I know,” interrupted Mr. Humphrey, “But this is extremely urgent. Six months ago Mr. White was appointed the Regional Director of Interpol for the Far East and is now based in Singapore. Just this morning his daughter was kidnapped. We suspect the Dragonheart cartel from Hong Kong. Mr. White was on the verge of exposing the bosses and was due to arrive with the evidence in London tomorrow when this happened.” Tanya heard her boss huff in frustration.
“Since you are already in the area, I would like you to meet Mr. White and if necessary travel to Hong Kong and do a preliminary investigation. I need a report from you as soon as you can send it.”
“But…” Tanya tried to get a word in. But Mr. Humphrey continued without letting her speak.
“As compensation for disturbing your holiday, Interpol will pay for all of the expenses already incurred and as usual what you will spend during the assignment. Please consider this urgent!’ With that he abruptly disconnected the call, taking it for granted that Tanya would accept the assignment.
Tanya looked apologetically at Sarah.
“Oh well… here we go again,” said Sarah looked at her partner with an understanding albeit long suffering smile.
Now the question is…will Sarah go with Tanya? Or will she go back home? I would love to hear from you all 🙂