Monthly Story, November 2022
Image → Inna Rabotyagina
Archetype → Utopian
Rasa → Adbhutam (अद्भुतं): Wonder, amazement. Presiding deity: Brahma. Colour: Yellow. Śṛṅgāraḥ (शृङ्गारः): Romance, Love, attractiveness. Presiding deity: Vishnu. Colour: light green,
The crisp brush of his white cotton shirt on my skin.
The smell of the sea on his skin.
That immortal place where everything is at rest, and even the coconut palms leaned comfortably into the call of gravity.
I’ve always known that inside every person, there is a place. Inside my father, there was a place thick with wild lagoon fear and intermittent bays of total abandonment—a lot like the village that he grew up in. In my mother, there’s a clear, cold, calculating lake. In my grandfather, there were rocky mountains with grey peaks; unchanging, silent, intense, and watchful. Inside me, is an abandoned old city, with worn walls bathed in a warm night that would never birth a dawn. Each place was different from the other as we were from one another; but, they were also similar in how all our places shared some form of torment.
But, inside Sunil, there was a place that I dared to call paradise. It was a sunlit ocean shore shaded with tall palms waving in the breeze. You could perhaps even see a little house between the faraway palm groves where the beach curved in the distance—well beyond earshot. Ahead, it blazed hot gold along the stretch of sand. But, under his palms, it was always cool, and the air was free of the sun’s noon frenzy. When my eyes adjusted to the shade, I could see that the sea was no longer made of glimmering diamonds, but a clear blue. I’ve never seen a place quite like Sunil’s shore. It had no shadow of hunger, hurt or fear that I felt in everyone else. On Sunil's shore, I would always sit down and forget to leave. He was where I liked to fall asleep.
I remember the way he thought about it carefully when I asked what his name meant. ‘Sunil? Hm. Clear, cool, water. Something blue...’, he said after much thought.
I’ve now given up trying to forget the way he talked about the sea; how he said he loved to go fishing and swimming in the mornings because the sea nurses a sense of danger that is natural, gentle and latent—something he liked to be reminded of every day. It was such an honest and subtle flirtation with death that it wasn't morbid in any sense. “Everything began in the sea, and everything will end in it,” he’d say in his placid blue voice. When I asked him how he learnt these things, he looked puzzled for a second. “You just watch and you see, isn’t it?”
I haven’t visited the seaside south for four months now; half out of being unable to bear the pain of remaining just a guest and not part of that dream; half out of the fear of looking Sunil in the eye after the things I’ve imagined through the nights in my apartment. But, the voice in my head telling me to resign from the firm and move to the south never rests now.
Today I went to the beach near my city; just to smell the salt air again. Although it was small, dirty, and full of people, I still found traces of Sunil in the smell, sound and sight of the sea. The salinity cleansed me of greyness—and I could long for him again without breaking.
I remember his weight on me. A clear, clean, blue airborne sensation entered at the tips of my hairs and swam all the way through me, making cool sea moisture on my skin. His memory came to rest in me, as apparent, as distant, and as real as the horizon.
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The story, all names, characters, and incidents portrayed in this production are fictitious. No identification with actual persons (living or deceased), places, buildings, and products is intended or should be inferred.