It’s about five in the evening. We are still dilly-dallying about going out. We’ve been planning and procrastinating about this for days together. It is final today, says Ammu. Please Amma; let’s go. This is Kuttan. There’s no way we are escaping this. That is me. We dress up; pack an extra pair of clothes for the little ones. And, off we go to hire an auto.
It’s a weekend. As we step down from the auto, we see scores and scores of heads all heading towards the much needed respite. We join the bandwagon too. Our speed slows down as our feet goes in and out of the sand. Look Amma.. Shells, cry the duo. I smile at their innocence.
Amma.. Can we play balloon shoot? Not now Kanna.. When we are back from the water. Okay. I temporarily shut him up. I am sure he is not even strong enough to hold that long iron gun. Me? I don’t want to indulge in violence, you see. We walk past shops and people and animals and all to reach the water.
Water. Sea. Waves. Ah.. The bliss of just sitting down and watch the excited water pace up and down like a cat that has just delivered a tiny kitten. At times, I feel like asking it to just calm down. Can’t you see, my dear sea, your lake cousin is so calm and serene and still? Your river cousin runs around too. But, isn’t she a little more dainty and graceful? Why are you so furious all the time? Did someone wrong you?
I see a big wave come and crash my feet. It’s as if the sea is angry with my flow of thoughts. I realize my mistake. This is her inherent trait. She is different from her cousins, isn’t she? She is so enthusiastic all the time and I know she just loves being so. Then, why did I even judge her? Sigh. The shallowness of the human mind.
I see Kuttan enjoying in the water with his Paatti. Ammu, of course, is on the shore with her Thatha. I’ve tried coaxing and cajoling her to get to the water, but she is scared. I go to her and lift her up. I will not put you down. Just sit on me and see the water come and hit my feet, I say. She agrees to come. I take her near the sea and observe around.
A young couple holding hands. A dad getting his daughter completely drenched. A group of friends with their wet churidars. A few young men immersed almost half of themselves into the water. Old aunties with their grand children. Mothers. Sisters. Brothers. Everyone waiting near the sea for the water goddess to quench the sun’s heat. And, how She does it in style.
I want to be in the water some more, cries Kuttan. I want to get back to the shore now, a scared Ammu. Two beings born at the same time from the same place and yet as different as chalk and cheese. I sigh to myself. We get back to the shore; dust ourselves off the sand and change our clothes.
I turn around to see how man has turned the land around this nature’s fury into a commercial spot. Balloon shoot spots can be seen aplenty. Small bandis of roasted corn are sold with shining flames flying out of them in the dark. A horse comes running towards us. Don’t you want to ride on it?, asks a boy just about a couple of years older than my children. No, my kids cry in panic. The poor animal is lured away from us. Bajji stalls are aplenty with chairs and tables laid down for their customers. Thatha.. Is there a parent-teacher meeting going to happen here, asks a curious Kuttan much to the amusement of us adults.
We walk past shops selling plastic toys for children. One man selling glowing horns comes luring the kids. We are thankfully not so interested in it. We want to get to the carousals and round-a-bouts. Twenty bucks for a ride, says a woman operating the round-a-bout. Ammu and Kuttan choose their cars of choice and sit on them. The lady pushes the round-a-bout with her hand and with all her might. Because, you know, money. I can feel her hand aching through the night. What has she done to deserve such a tough life? Her six/seven year old daughter looks at her mother. In awww or in pain, I’m unable to decide. I pray that the little one gets to study and work elsewhere.
We get down and keep walking towards the road. The sea and its smell slowly fades.
Why can’t I sit near you all day and watch you go up and down, I ask the sea. Then, I am quick to realize my ignorance. Just like how she goes up and down, our lives alternate between highs and lows, too. We’ve got no choice but to enjoy our happy times and sail through our tough ones. Our lives aren’t so different from the sea or is it? Human beings are seas too; serene, sometimes; furious, at another; filled with contradictions like no other.