August 2, 2012

Photo-story: Confessions of a Balcony-Beach Watcher

Through the Balcony-Glass

August, the second week of Ramadan: it is a hot, stifling morning, approaching noon. I can smell the sea in the air today though, I can even hear the waves crashing upon the beach. Sometimes, the sea is quiet, invisible, content to loll in its largeness; today, though, it demands to be noticed. So I do.

There is no one around at the beach at this time of the day. Even the gulls left long back, having breakfasted, claw-printed the shore, swam, and briefly bobbed around in the jade and navy chevron-striped water. The beach is now alone and deserted, the sea spilling over to embrace acres and acres of empty sand.

A car pulls up at the beach: a dusty white Toyota Corolla. A woman and a man emerge from it. The man walks up to the tide-mark and then, stands precisely and squarely in front of it, clearly not going any further. He's still, only briefly touching his kuma every now and then. The hems of his biscuit-brown dishdasha flutter a little in the breeze that has suddenly picked up.

The woman meanwhile walks ahead to the shore, employing confident, eager steps; she lifts up the corners of her voluminous abaya, revealing a searing flash of fuchsia below...and wades further and further into the water. When she deems to have waded far enough, she pauses, as if simply absorbing her surroundings...and then, she bends down as if to pick up the water, like a neglected child clamoring for her attention. She splashes the water: snowballs of water briefly glitter in the air before dying and merging into the sea once more. Behind her, the man simply watches, his arms folded; even when seen from a distance, he radiates a bemused affection. And then, just like that, few minutes later, she retraces her path, re-arranges her abaya, and then they sit in the car and go off.

Disordering Waves
How many stories has the beach seen and heard. Some day, before it is time to say goodbye, I must go and listen to them all. One day, when the beach is as alone and deserted as it was today and the waves noisily spill over onto the sand, coughing up pebbles and shells and sea-weed and glass and dead fish, I must sit down and listen before it is too late. 


  1. Replies

    1. Thank you so much. I don't quite often know whom I am writing for...but in this case, I wrote this piece purely for myself, perhaps anticipating the wave of nostalgia that would overcome me months later...


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